Revisiting Reading: Exploring an intensive reading pedagogy in adult literacy

Helen De Silva Joyce
Susan Hood
David Rose


Applied linguistic research into genres of written communication has
had a considerable impact in recent decades on the pedagogy of writing in
all sectors of education in Australia, from early schooling to post-secondary
and workplace contexts (eg. Christie and Martin 1997). Attending to the
social purpose of language and modelling and deconstructing texts in
preparation for supported writing has become a common feature of many
programs, including those in the field of adult English as a Second
Language (ESL) and adult literacy. However, effective engagement with
model texts for writing is dependent on students being able to read those
texts. While reading continues to be explicitly identified as a component of
most adult literacy programs, there is evidence to suggest that less attention
may be given to the deliberate supported development of reading skills
(Burns and de Silva Joyce 2000, 2005). This paper reports on a project
funded by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research
(NCVER) in Australia. The study, Investigating the impact of intensive reading
pedagogy in adult literacy, was designed to explore the relevance and the
potential of an intensive, explicit reading pedagogy, Reading-to-Learn, in adult
and community education (ACE) and TAFE colleges in metropolitan
Sydney, teaching literacy in ESL and adult basic education (ABE) classes.
The study was a partnership between practising teachers and
researcher/teacher educators. It identified positive outcomes for students,
with advances in reading abilities for many students well beyond those
anticipated by teachers and students alike. Teachers also reported very
positive outcomes for their own professional development. Importantly, the
study also identified a number of system-level features that would need to be
in place to support a broader adoption of the pedagogy.

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