Departmental Bulletin Paper Attempting to Develop Transferrable Oral Fluency in Storybook Reading: A Yomikikase Case Study

Sponseller, Aaron C.

A popular component of family literacy programs consists of encouraging parents to read stories to/with their children. Reading together has been linked with considerable improvements in literacy in L1 contexts, however reading together in an L2 remains underexplored. In Japan this area is practically unexplored altogether. Given most Japanese parents of elementary-age children today have been through six years of compulsory English in JHS and HS, as well as the fact that the storybooks used in such programs are typically comprised of low-level vocabulary and accompanied by pictures that support the story, it is reasonable to wonder if a storybook reading intervention for Japanese parents presents a feasible option for augmenting young Japanese English learners’ English language development. Specifically, this study investigated two things. First, are oral fluency gains in storybook reading possible for a Japanese reader of English storybooks over just 10 days? Second, do hypothetical fluency gains in reading one storybook aloud transfer to a storybook of similar difficulty? This case study followed one participant over the course of ten days as she practiced reading a single storybook aloud. She spent three days reading aloud, three more days listening to a native speaker model of the text and then reading aloud, and finally three days shadowing that native speaker model. The results showed excellent gains on the text practiced for over 10 days, however no transferrable fluency gains were observed for the second storybook. The case study participant offers her thoughts on the texts and activities. Limitations of the study and implications for future research in this area are briefly discussed.

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