Reader competence

Reader competence is not the same as reading competence. Development of reader competence should begin in the parental home, long before the conscious acquisition of reading skills. Listening to fairy-tales and other stories read aloud, and joining in the ‘reading’ and discussion of picture-books are activities that initiate children into the culture of reading and writing, foster their pleasure and interest in reading, and prepare them for future independent reading.

The richer a child’s surroundings in written material, the easier it will be for him or her to recognise the usefulness of any such material. It is thus good practice to have written culture featuring consistently in the surroundings from an early stage, e.g. in the nursery school.

These processes can be initiated in early foreign language learning and developed over time. When shorter pieces are being read aloud, follow-up should not be concerned with content aspects alone: the children should be encouraged to develop a feel for e.g. tension-generating features or the distinctive characteristics of different text-types (‘Once upon a time …’).

It helps to smooth the path for children entering the early foreign language learning process if individuals in the immediate environment,
  • e.g. parents or older siblings, are readers and in that respect role models, and also if:
  • the child has easy access to a wide range of reading material
  • books for reading aloud and for personal discovery are available
  • the learning environment – e.g. pre-school and primary school – offers reading and writing corners
  • adults are receptive to children’s questions and in this way assist the learning-to-read process.
    Recommendations
    • Before children look in any detail at the written form of a foreign language, they should be familiar with the written form of their mother tongue.
    • The child’s everyday environment should provide as many ways of accessing written material as possible, so as to stimulate curiosity at an early age about books (etc.) and general interest in reading.

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