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Research report

French reading in high school

Many Québec high school teachers complain that their students have difficulty understanding the texts they have to read in school. But how do we teach 12 year olds, much less 14 or 15 year olds, to read, and how can we assess their reading ability? Our research project sought to answer these questions by working with teachers and school counsellors to develop teaching and assessment tools for reading that greatly clarify the components of reading proficiency (including a self-assessment chart built for students). The tools were then used by French teachers in an approach based on explicit teaching of reading strategies and self-regulation.

How do we teach 12 year olds, much less 14 or 15 year olds, to read?

Our teaching and assessment tools have been widely distributed across the school system through various networks (the Québec association of French teachers, school counsellors and school boards) and have received a very positive response from French teachers.

The results of our study are also encouraging: Secondary 2 (Grade 8) students in the experimental group, both boys and girls, performed better than those in the control group after receiving explicit instruction in reading strategies for one year. Our tools appear to be better received by older students – a new experimental phase launched in fall 2012 will make the approach more accessible to all high school students.

There is evidence to suggest that the tools and recommended teaching approach will serve to clarify the components of reading proficiency for both teachers and students alike, in addition to providing the latter with effective strategies for improving their reading ability.


Main researcher: Érick Falardeau, Université Laval

Original title: L'évaluation de la compétence à lire et apprécier des textes variés en français au secondaire

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