Is it recommended to read something for a second/third time?

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Is it recommended to read something for a second/third time?

Postby Milkybar_Kid » 01 Aug 2012, 07:43

Does anyone know what the general consensus is on this? If I finish a textbook/ kids story book should I go back and re-read it?

The problem I have is that I loose interest the second time around and just want to move onto the next book. However I still can't recognise every single word in the first book and still need to perform the dictionary lookup procedure.

Is there a comprehensible input theory on this?

Thanks
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Re: Is it recommended to read something for a second/third time?

Postby ironlady » 01 Aug 2012, 10:23

Emphatically -- yes!!

Repeated reading is the major way of acquiring fluency in reading, which is what you want.
This is another reason not to pick books that are too far above your level -- too much dictionary work and you really just don't want to bother after the first time through (assuming you get through it the first time). :D

Our experiments in reading instruction are showing that with the use of repeated reading (more varied than in your situation as we are working in a class and can use different techniques and different groups), students of Mandarin as a second language can learn characters without ever studying them separately, and without any instruction in characters prior to reading. This, however, is in reading lessons with teachers running them. But the results we're getting are definitely pointing to the value of repeated reading of the same text.
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Re: Is it recommended to read something for a second/third time?

Postby aphasiac » 01 Aug 2012, 12:03

The biggest enemy of language study is boredom. If a textbook or task is not holding your interest, you might end up putting it off or stop altogether, which of course negates any other theoretical benefits.

Just move onto the next book. You can always come back and review the first book at a later date; you'll be surprised at how much more you understand.
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Re: Is it recommended to read something for a second/third time?

Postby ironlady » 01 Aug 2012, 21:27

aphasiac wrote:Just move onto the next book. You can always come back and review the first book at a later date; you'll be surprised at how much more you understand.


Unfortunately, this is the problem with most courses. "Just keep going." Don't ever take the time to master anything -- God forbid you don't keep marching onward. Of course, the fact that you never actually acquire anything along the way will eventually snowball and come back to bite you in the rear.

As a person studying on your own, you have the luxury of not letting your progress through materials be paced by someone else. Don't give that up. Try to pick more appropriate reading materials in the first place (more interesting/fewer unknowns) and re-reading will not be very onerous.
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Re: Is it recommended to read something for a second/third time?

Postby Mucha Man » 01 Aug 2012, 21:35

ironlady wrote:...Our experiments in reading instruction are showing that with the use of repeated reading (more varied than in your situation as we are working in a class and can use different techniques and different groups), students of Mandarin as a second language can learn characters without ever studying them separately, and without any instruction in characters prior to reading.


How? Do you at least go over the characters first in some way?
“Everywhere else in the world is also really old” said Prof. Liu, a renowned historian at Beijing University. “We always learn that China has 5000 years of cultural heritage, and that therefore we are very special. It appears that other places also have some of this heritage stuff. And are also old. Like, really old.”

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Re: Is it recommended to read something for a second/third time?

Postby ironlady » 01 Aug 2012, 21:48

Nope.

We took students with zero Chinese, and gave them a week's worth of language instruction (TPRS-based, though in the particular setting they were in, they also had a "task-based class", but we did not use vocabulary from that class since it wasn't really acquired by that point). Then we threw a reading at them -- 600 characters long, containing 35 unique characters. We did not show them a Chinese character beforehand, we didn't give them a list, we didn't talk about radicals or character parts or anything. We just put the text in front of them and started reading it with them, and said, "You join in [reading out loud] when you're ready." It took about 3 pages, and everyone was reading out loud together. We faded the teacher voice lead, and they kept reading. We checked comprehension using translation, and they were understanding what they read.

We repeated this reading in various ways (shared reading, choral reading, pair reading, reader's theater) for four days (50 minutes of class per day). Then we gave a test. We thew another Chinese text at the students -- unrelated to the story they'd been reading in class. It contained the same characters, but it had nothing to do with the text they'd been reading. There were no pictures and no context at all with the test (there were illustrations with the class text, and obviously the class had discussed what was going on in the text). Every student was able to read the text and answer comprehension questions in English -- demonstrating that the character recognition skills carried over, despite the total lack of direct instruction in characters.

HOWEVER -- what makes this work is the fact that the students are reading KNOWN LANGUAGE. All the teachers who hear about this want a copy of the "magic text". But the magic isn't in the text. It's really simple -- it's easy to teach someone to read a second language (a person who's already literate in another language, I mean) if they are reading language they already have in their heads. If they are reading stuff they don't really have solidly in their heads, it's a whole different story -- and one that most of us were subjected to during our Chinese study.

As the students become more advanced, they will be able to tolerate more unknowns in the readings, because they will have more structural knowledge of Chinese, and more vocabulary, so that they can make intelligent guesses and use reading strategies to make meaning. But for beginners, we have to keep unknowns to a minimum, or exclude them totally. Not teaching characters separately is certainly a great time-saver, though, not to mention all the materials preparation, correcting, and general wear-and-tear.
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Re: Is it recommended to read something for a second/third time?

Postby ironlady » 01 Aug 2012, 21:52

I should mention, too -- I am not against teaching radicals or character parts and so on. I just don't believe they are things worth spending class time on when someone has had less than, say, a couple hundred hours of Chinese study. Beginners need fluency, not analysis. Later, when someone gets to a more advanced point with Chinese, and wants/needs to learn those things, great. But I strongly believe we need to prioritize when dealing with beginners, or else no one would ever get to the intermediate level (hmmm...kinda like what's been happening for a long time now, where relatively few people end up fluent.)
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Re: Is it recommended to read something for a second/third time?

Postby E04teacherlin » 04 Aug 2012, 19:00

ironlady wrote:Nope.

We took students with zero Chinese, and gave them a week's worth of language instruction (TPRS-based, though in the particular setting they were in, they also had a "task-based class", but we did not use vocabulary from that class since it wasn't really acquired by that point). Then we threw a reading at them -- 600 characters long, containing 35 unique characters. We did not show them a Chinese character beforehand, we didn't give them a list, we didn't talk about radicals or character parts or anything. We just put the text in front of them and started reading it with them, and said, "You join in [reading out loud] when you're ready." It took about 3 pages, and everyone was reading out loud together. We faded the teacher voice lead, and they kept reading. We checked comprehension using translation, and they were understanding what they read.

We repeated this reading in various ways (shared reading, choral reading, pair reading, reader's theater) for four days (50 minutes of class per day). Then we gave a test. We thew another Chinese text at the students -- unrelated to the story they'd been reading in class. It contained the same characters, but it had nothing to do with the text they'd been reading. There were no pictures and no context at all with the test (there were illustrations with the class text, and obviously the class had discussed what was going on in the text). Every student was able to read the text and answer comprehension questions in English -- demonstrating that the character recognition skills carried over, despite the total lack of direct instruction in characters.

HOWEVER -- what makes this work is the fact that the students are reading KNOWN LANGUAGE. All the teachers who hear about this want a copy of the "magic text". But the magic isn't in the text. It's really simple -- it's easy to teach someone to read a second language (a person who's already literate in another language, I mean) if they are reading language they already have in their heads. If they are reading stuff they don't really have solidly in their heads, it's a whole different story -- and one that most of us were subjected to during our Chinese study.

As the students become more advanced, they will be able to tolerate more unknowns in the readings, because they will have more structural knowledge of Chinese, and more vocabulary, so that they can make intelligent guesses and use reading strategies to make meaning. But for beginners, we have to keep unknowns to a minimum, or exclude them totally. Not teaching characters separately is certainly a great time-saver, though, not to mention all the materials preparation, correcting, and general wear-and-tear.

Totally agree with you but a quick question. How much of the "reading" comprehension is aided by the fact that reading aloud turns the text into a listening also text and students are therefore able to hear the word while they read it?
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Re: Is it recommended to read something for a second/third time?

Postby archylgp » 04 Aug 2012, 19:59

ironlady wrote:Nope.
We took students with zero Chinese, and gave them a week's worth of language instruction (TPRS-based, though in the particular setting they were in, they also had a "task-based class", but we did not use vocabulary from that class since it wasn't really acquired by that point). Then we threw a reading at them -- 600 characters long, containing 35 unique characters. We did not show them a Chinese character beforehand, we didn't give them a list, we didn't talk about radicals or character parts or anything. We just put the text in front of them and started reading it with them, and said, "You join in [reading out loud] when you're ready." It took about 3 pages, and everyone was reading out loud together. We faded the teacher voice lead, and they kept reading. We checked comprehension using translation, and they were understanding what they read.


Doing something like this was one of the most memorable experiences of my time in Chinese classes. (Only one teacher did anything like it (American guy) and he only taught the summer class.) Keep up the good work, Ironlady; a lot of people are going to owe their Chinese fluency to you :)
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Re: Is it recommended to read something for a second/third time?

Postby ironlady » 05 Aug 2012, 01:23

E04teacherlin wrote:Totally agree with you but a quick question. How much of the "reading" comprehension is aided by the fact that reading aloud turns the text into a listening also text and students are therefore able to hear the word while they read it?


No need to put "comprehension" in quotes. This is a training process. Comprehension isn't 100% from reading along at first. People tend to forget that to teach someone to do something, you have to, well, teach them to do it, before you assess whether or not they can do it. The first phase is shared reading, which is fancy talk for teacher reads it out loud and you follow along (or, in this case, read along out loud when you feel comfortable). We expect errors and miscues during this phase. The thing we like to see is kids correcting themselves on miscues because "that word didn't sound right".

We then move into less supported reading -- small group and pair reading, and read-to-others. By the time we're at the read-to-others step, obviously the student is the only one producing spoken language from the text.

Now you'll ask: aren't they just memorizing the text? That's why we did the assessment we did -- giving them the unrelated text containing the same characters, and without the clues like pictures or an introduction. That proved that the progression of exercises we'd used was actually getting the kids able to recognize those characters in other places (though you'll notice we did NOT test the characters in isolation, since that is a parlor trick, not reading.)
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