Presentation of the three keynote speakers at the conference

Prof. Carsten Elbro, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Changing demands for reading ability and how teaching can help students meet them

Digital communication has greatly increased the demands for reading and writing abilities. People spend much more time writing and reading on their smartphones than talking into them. The internet offers instant access to many more texts than any single library. All kinds of goods can be bought through reading, clicking, and writing. This development has not changed the basic processes of reading, however, but it has put some abilities under pressure. The presentation will discuss the profundity of these changes. It will also provide an overview of what research has to say about how to support the development of these abilities through teaching.

Associate Prof. Byeong-Young Cho, University of Pittsburgh, U.S.A.

Promoting Disciplinary Reading and Literacy through Multisource Text Inquiries

My research has focused on literacy development and how to encourage that development, both in and out of school settings, including multiple-text comprehension, critical reading in an internet environment, and literacy learning in content areas. Recently, my work seeks to examine student learning of disciplinary and digital literacies in middle and secondary schools. These literacies become increasingly critical for student success, especially in today’s digitally mediated complex knowledge society.

In my talk, I focus on a current research project that seeks to trace middle-school students’ learning and engagement in complex inquiry task environments with multiple texts in history. I describe theoretical backgrounds for our work and the design of a culturally relevant history unit organized with multisource inquiry tasks that support disciplinary engagement. I discuss preliminary insights from our examination of how students demonstrated disciplinary reading comprehension and literacy learning about salient questions of history in the task environment.

Prof. Kate Nation, University of Oxford, GB

Broadly, my research is concerned with the language processing, especially reading development.  I am interested in how children learn to read words and comprehend text, and more generally, the relationship between spoken language and written language. A key aim at present to specify some of the mechanisms involved in the transition from novice to expert. We also study language processing in skilled adults, addressing the issue of how skilled behaviour emerges via language learning experience.

The scientific study of reading has taught us a good deal about how children learn to read. There is much though still to understand. We know relatively little about how children develop from novice to expert: how do children move from the laborious reading of individual words to the sense of effortlessness we, as skilled readers, experience as we read and understand text? And why do some children find this so difficult?

This talk will reflect on how language shapes the development of a child’s reading system, with particular emphasis on what is clearly the ultimate goal of reading – to understand what it is that has been read.