Foreign Language Education: Unlocking Reading

Modern Foreign Language learning in the UK is a cause for concern due to persistent problems of low motivation, uptake and attainment.

As a research team, we are interested in working with teachers to develop pedagogy, to help learners make real progress and to sustain their motivation.  Focussing on reading in particular, this study is a Randomized Control Trial investigating the effects of three different teaching approaches: (1) explicit Phonics instruction; (2) explicit Strategy instruction; (3) the use of appropriately challenging and engaging texts.  The same texts used in (3) were also used in the other two programmes of instruction, so that we could ‘isolate’ the effects of the explicit phonics or strategies instruction.  These teaching approaches were implemented by teachers in 36 schools across the country.  We measured students’ outcomes at three time points: immediately before the interventions; immediately afterwards; and six months afterwards. Our outcome measures were: reading comprehension; phonological decoding (the ability to read text aloud accurately); vocabulary knowledge; strategic behaviour; self-efficacy for French reading; and their wider motivation.  Additionally, we sought teachers’ and students’ views on the programmes of instruction and their effects.

External team members: Professor Suzanne Graham (University of Reading), Dr Louise Courtney (University of Reading) and Cr Alison Porter (University of Southampton)

Foreign Language Education: Unlocking Reading (FLEUR) – A study into the teaching of reading to beginner learners of French in secondary school