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Getting Ready to Read: Promoting Children´s Emergent Literacy Through Shared Book Reading in a German Context

  • The present study investigated the effects of two methods of shared book reading on children´s emergent literacy skills, such as language skills (expressive vocabulary and semantic skills) and grapheme awareness, i.e. before the alphabetic phase of reading acquisition (Lachmann & van Leeuwen, 2014) in home and in kindergarten contexts. The two following shared book reading methods were investigated: Method I - literacy enrichment: 200 extra children's books were distributed in kindergartens and children were encouraged every week to borrow a book to take home and read with their parents. Further, a written letter was sent to the parents encouraging them to frequently read the books with their children at home. Method II - teacher training: kindergarten teachers participated in structured training which included formal instruction on how to promote child language development through shared book reading. The training was an adaptation of the Heidelberger Interaktionstraining für pädagogisches Fachpersonal zur Förderung ein- und mehrsprachiger Kinder - HIT (Buschmann & Jooss, 2011). In addition, the effects of the two methods in combination were investigated. Three questions were addressed in the present study: (1) What effect does method I (literacy enrichment), method II (teacher training) and the combination of both methods have on children's expressive vocabulary? (2) What effect does method I (literacy enrichment), method II (teacher training) and the combination of both methods have on children's semantic skills? (3) What effect does method I (literacy enrichment), method II (teacher training) and the combination of both methods have on children's grapheme awareness? Accordingly, 69 children, ranged in age from 3;0 to 4;8 years, were recruited from four kindergartens in the city of Kaiserslautern, Germany. The kindergartens were divided into: kindergarten 1 – Method I (N = 13); kindergarten 2 - Method II (N = 18); kindergarten 3 - Combination of both methods (N = 17); kindergarten 4 - Control group (N = 21). Half of the participants (N = 35) reported having a migration background. All groups were similar in regards to socioeconomic status and literacy activities at home. In a pre- posttest design, children performed three tests: expressive vocabulary (AWSTR, 3-5; Kiese-Himmel, 2005), semantic skills (SETK, 3-5 subtests ESR; Grimm, 2001), and grapheme awareness which is a task developed with the purpose of testing children’s familiarity with grapheme forms. The intervention period had duration of six months. The data analysis was performed using the software IBM SPSS Statistics version 22. Regarding language skills, Method I showed no significant effects on children expressive vocabulary and semantic skills. Method II showed significant effects for children expressive vocabulary. In addition, the children with migration background took more advantage of the method. Regarding semantic skills, no significant effects were found. No significant effects of the combination of both methods in children's language skills were found. For grapheme awareness, however, results showed positive effects for Method I, and Method II, as well as for the combination of both methods. The combination group, as reported by a large effect size, showed to be more effective than Method I and Method II alone. Moreover, the results indicated that in grapheme awareness, all children (in regards to age, gender, with and without migration background) took equal advantage in all three intervention groups. Overall, it can be concluded with the results of the present study, that by providing access to good books, Method I may help parents involve themselves in the active process of their child's literacy skills development. However, in order to improve language skills, access to books alone showed to be not enough. Therefore, it is suggested that access combined with additional support to parents in how to improve their language interactions with their children is highly recommended. In respect to Method II, the present study suggests that shared book reading through professional training is an important tool that supports children´s language development. For grapheme awareness it is concluded that with the combination of the two performed methods, high exposure to shared book reading helps children to informally learn about the surface characteristics of print, acquire some familiarity with the visual characteristics of the letters and learn to differentiate them from other visual patterns. Finally, it is suggested to organizations and institutions as well as to future research, the importance of having more programs that offer different possibilities to children to have more contact with adequate language interaction as well as more experiences with print through shared book reading as showed in the present study.

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Author:Patricia de Brito Castilho Wesseling
URN (permanent link):urn:nbn:de:hbz:386-kluedo-43828
Advisor:Thomas Lachmann
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Language of publication:English
Publication Date:2016/05/29
Year of Publication:2016
Publishing Institute:Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
Granting Institute:Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
Acceptance Date of the Thesis:2015/12/17
Date of the Publication (Server):2016/05/31
Number of page:XV, 180
Faculties / Organisational entities:Fachbereich Sozialwissenschaften
DDC-Cassification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
Licence (German):Standard gemäß KLUEDO-Leitlinien vom 30.07.2015