Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Learning to read

Konrad Glogowski touches on an issue that is like a thorn in my side.

I won't repeat my comments on his post here, but his post set me to thinking back on the TV series Can't read, Can't write that I posted about previously.

It seems to me that there is a dearth of literature in any language that is embedded in that culture and is fit for an audience of mature-yet-poor readers.

Adults who are learning to read do not wish to know that Spot is running or that Janet and John are going to the circus.

When we design elearning resources, we're all about engaging the learner. Finding a hook that will capture their attention, their interest and make them want to explore further. Songwriters even call it that "the hook".

So where is the "the hook" for a person who is learning to read in adult years?

In Can't read, Can't write, one of the learners was a highly intelligent woman who wanted to be able to read Hemingway. She wanted to acquire the key to that lock. And that was what reading was to her.

So where is the accessible Hemingway?

And where is the culturally relevant stuff? Where is the story that makes sense to a Kenyan tribal herdsman and does not patronise him with some white-as-snow, ever-so-English children going to the... what was that thing again?

Every time I bump into this topic, it fills me with a sense of urgency that hurts. I feel like I want to do something about it. Now.

But while I might be able to try my hand at accessible English language materials, I suspect that someone is already doing that - just without enough people knowing about them. It's the other languages I worry about, and I have no means to write a culturally relevant tale for any of them. The hook is beyond my capacity to bait.

Aargh!

2 comments:

christytucker said...

At least in English, the Simple English version of Wikipedia would be a good resource. Dry, of course, and not stories, but if someone had an interest in a science topic or sports biographies, it would be good. I'm sure some articles have some cultural bias, but I bet you could find a good variety.

These are more advanced than See Spot Run, so they'd require something else for that first foundation. I think this could be part of the solution though.

Karyn Romeis said...

@christy This, of course, is assuming the community has access to t'internet. Not always a given.