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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Hearing books read in the first language : its association with reading achievement in the second language Walters, Ken


The purpose of this study was to answer the question, "Does reading books to E.S.L. students in their first language have a greater association with gains in reading achievement than reading books to E.S.L. students in their second language?" Another purpose of the study was to determine whether reading stories to children in Chinese is associated with first language borrowing habits, and whether a teacher's attitude toward First Language Collections influences children's borrowing of first language books. A research design was developed that consisted of one independent variable and two dependent variables. The independent variable, hearing stories read, consisted of Treatment 1, hearing stories read in Chinese; Treatment 2, hearing stories read in English, and Treatment 3, hearing no stories read (control group) . The dependent variables were: 1) reading achievement as measured by the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test Level A, forms 1 and 2, Canadian edition, 1980; and 2) the number of Chinese books borrowed by students. The study was carried out with 39 students, ages 9 to 12, at a school located in the core of Vancouver's Chinese community. The treatment took place during two 40 minute periods a week for a duration of three months. Two one-tailed T-tests were applied to the data, firstly to test for a significant difference in reading achievement between the means of the three groups, and secondly to test for a significant difference between the pretest and posttest means within each group. ANOVAS were applied to test for a significant difference between the three groups in borrowing habits, and to test for a difference in borrowing habits between the two classes. All three groups—the group hearing Chinese stories, the group hearing English stories and the control group made significant gains in reading achievement (p < .05). The group hearing Chinese stories did not make greater gains in reading achievement than the group hearing English stories. There was no significant difference between the gains in any of the three groups. There was no significant difference between the borrowing habits of the three groups. There was, however, a significant difference (p < .05) between the number of books borrowed by class. Because one teacher held negative attitudes towards first language books, this strongly suggests that a teacher's attitude toward first language books has a profound effect on the first language borrowing habits of students. This study adds important information to the debate on how schools should respond to the cultural and linguistic diversity of their students. The students hearing Chinese stories learned English equally as well as those hearing English stories, and had the added advantage of being exposed, in a school setting, to their own culture.

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