17 June 2005
Studies Found: Simple Dialogic Reading Technique Substantially Improved
¡@¡@Dialogic reading involves encouraging children to interact with storybooks in a very active way. Parents ask children different types of questions that require children to elaborate on the text and express their ideas about the story freely. Ideally, the child becomes the storyteller, and the parent becomes the facilitator and cheerleader for the child's ideas about the story.
¡@¡@These studies are part of on-going research on early language and literacy development in Hong Kong conducted by Professor Catherine McBride-Chang, M.Phil. student Bonnie Wing-Yin Chow, and Professor Him Cheung, in the Centre for Developmental Psychology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. The first study showed promising effects of dialogic reading for both vocabulary knowledge and literacy skill among 86 Chinese kindergartners after just two twenty-minute sessions per week across eight weeks of parent-child reading. The second study, perhaps the first of its kind in the world, demonstrated that vocabulary knowledge of 28 hard-of-hearing children in their last year of kindergarten, first, and second grades, improved substantially among families using a combination of the dialogic reading technique and visual aids. The dialogic reading technique is especially useful for promoting communication in families with hearing-impaired children, and this communication resulted in increased vocabulary skills over just eight weeks. Both of these research studies have since been published in academic journals.
¡@¡@The third study, supported by the Quality Education Fund, involved 110 kindergarteners and their parents. Like the other two studies, this study compared groups of families randomly assigned to one of three conditions. One group was given no reading instruction and no extra books. Children in this group were initially tested on reading-related interest and skills and were subsequently tested twelve weeks later. The second group was given a new book to read every week, and families were asked to read the new book with their children the way they normally would. In the third group, the dialogic reading group, parents were initially trained on dialogic reading for one hour. They were asked to use the dialogic reading technique in reading to their children the new books they received each week. Results of this study demonstrated that, compared to the first two groups, the dialogic reading group improved substantially more on vocabulary knowledge over the twelve weeks. In addition, only the children from the dialogic reading group showed a statistically significant increase in enthusiasm for reading, as measured by a questionnaire about enjoyment of reading, over the twelve weeks. Parents' reactions to the dialogic reading program were also strong. For example, 65% of parents using this technique thought their children's interest in reading had increased, while over 70% of parents thought their children's vocabulary knowledge, verbal fluency, and Chinese character recognition had improved as a result of this technique.
¡@¡@Overall, this series of studies has demonstrated that the dialogic reading technique can be easily applied to Chinese language and literacy learning, with clearly positive, measurable results in 8-12 weeks. In addition, the results of the study with hearing-impaired children are particularly encouraging, because language-learning, especially vocabulary development, is notoriously difficult for hearing-impaired children. The technique is easy to learn and apply. The goal of the technique is to get children to talk about the stories they read and for parents to encourage this discussion and expand on their children's comments. More information on specific techniques for dialogic reading can be found on the dialogic reading website at http://www.psy.cuhk.edu.hk/~qefproject.