Reading Faster = Better Comprehension? Evidence from a Coordinated Curriculum & AGM

JALT Group: 
Event Speaker: 
Barry Keith
Fee for JALT members: 
Fee for non-JALT members: 
1,000 yen (First-timers free)
Contact or Queries: 
Sunday, November 13, 2016 - 2:00pm to 4:30pm

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. This presentation reports 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. These results suggest that a combination of extensive reading and timed readings will greatly benefit students’ reading fluency.

The second part of the meeting will consist of our chapter's Annual General Meeting (AGM), in which we will select officers to administer and lead our group for the coming year. The primary positions are Chapter President, Treasurer, Membership Chair, Publicity Chair, and Program Chair. Other positions include Hospitality Chair, Speakeasy Editor, and Facility Chair. Many of these positions have been and are necessarily performed by more than one person working together.