• From Speaking to Reading: The role of spoken language in literacy & education

    Dirk Schmidt (see profile)
    Education and Pedagogy
    Tibetan, Pedagogy, Language
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    ISYT: International Seminar for Young Tibetologists
    Conf. Loc.:
    St. Petersburg, Russia
    Conf. Date:
    Permanent URL:
    Reading in Tibetan is notoriously difficult. Native speakers and second language learners alike struggle with literacy and reading comprehension. For a language with such a rich literary heritage, this poses a problem. How can students of Tibetan literature engage with these sophisticated texts when reading fluency is so difficult to obtain? The key, paradoxically, lies not in studying “harder texts” or “more texts”—but in Tibetan speech. Speech is the foundation of human language. Speech is found in all cultures; writing is not. In those cultures that do write, children are able to speak before they can read and write. And, writing is not but a symbol for speech: graphemes which represent phonemes. Still, “learning to read” in the Tibetan context too often focuses on the skill of decoding (of converting graphemes to phonemes). The missing ingredient has been comprehension—understanding the meaning of the words, not merely reciting their sounds. Connecting sound to meaning requires using words readers already know. Words they use, in context, in their everyday speech. The way to literacy education (for both native speakers and second language learners) thus lies in a foundation in spoken language. By collecting and analyzing a speech corpus of Tibetan, we can begin to create the reading materials early readers of the Tibetan language need to begin developing reading comprehension...
    Last Updated:
    1 year ago
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