Reading Faster = Better Comprehension? Evidence from a Coordinated Curriculum
by Barry Keith
Research shows that the faster we read, the better we understand. Why is that? The reading rates of 500+ first-year students majoring in engineering at a Japanese university were tested using timed readings. Streamed by a standardized placement test, students learned English in a coordinated curriculum. They read extensively toward a target of 220,000 words per annum. Their reading rates were tested three times in the academic year: at the beginning of the first semester, at the end of the first semester and at the end of the second semester.
Keith's presentation reported on a comparison of the reading rates of students in five, lower-level classes (n=150) in the second semester. Three classes served as a control group and two classes formed a treatment group (n=55). Both groups used the same textbooks and participated in an extensive reading program (reading target = 140,000 words). The treatment group practiced timed readings for 12 weeks by reading 300-word passages and answering five comprehension questions without referring to the passage. Students recorded their reading rates and comprehension scores on a chart. Although the control group had 5%-11% reading rate gains in the final reading rate test, the treatment classes increased by 70% and 81%. Students' understanding of the texts also increased as they read faster, These results led to the adoption of timed reading practice for all the lower-level classes in the following academic year. Keith's results suggested that a combination of extensive reading and timed readings will greatly benefit students’ reading fluency.
Barry Keith works for Gunma University, speaks a handful of languages, and is an all-around good guy. He is currently serving as Gunma JALT's Membership Chair as well as editing submissions for Speakeasy. Keith will give a repeat performance of this presentation at JALT2016 in Nagoya, but you can catch this exclusive preview only at Gunma JALT!
The second part of the meeting consised of our chapter's Annual General Meeting (AGM), in which we selected officers to administer and lead our group for the coming year. The positions selected were Chapter President, Treasurer, Membership Chair, Publicity Chair, and Program Chair, Hospitality Chair, Speakeasy Editor, and Facility Chair. Details of the AGM will be included in our yearly Chapter Report which will be posted on our Reports page.
Maebashi Institute of Technology
Building 3, 3rd Floor, Room 3101
Maebashi-shi, Gunma, 371-0816
November 13th, 2016
2 to 4:30PM
Members, students, and 1st-timers: FREE
One-day Members: ¥1,000