Academic journal article English Language Teaching

The Influence of Parents' Backgrounds, Beliefs about English Learning, and a Dialogic Reading Program on Thai Kindergarteners' English Lexical Development

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

The Influence of Parents' Backgrounds, Beliefs about English Learning, and a Dialogic Reading Program on Thai Kindergarteners' English Lexical Development

Article excerpt


This study investigated parents' backgrounds and their beliefs about English language learning, and compared the receptive English vocabulary development of three to six year-old-Thai children before and after participating in a parent-child reading program with the dialogic reading (DR) method. Fifty-four single parents of 54 children voluntarily participated in the study. The parents were surveyed to determine if their demographic data, beliefs, and DR method affected their children's vocabulary development. The children were tested on fourteen English words before and after participating in the program. The results showed that parents' beliefs about English language learning affected expectations on their children's language success. In addition, the children's achievement was related to the use of DR method. The children yielded significant greater gains in knowledge of vocabulary and their ability to infer the meanings from pictures after engaging in the reading program.

Keywords: early literacy, parent-child reading, attitudes, family, vocabulary

1. Introduction

The literature on early literacy has shown that parents' characteristics and parental involvement in children's reading are important in predicting their academic achievement (Davis-Keen, 2005; Lee & Bowen, 2006). Several researchers and educators investigated the mechanisms for understanding the influence of parents' characteristics and a reading intervention on children's early literacy (Gardner, 1985; Hart & Risley, 1995; Storch & Whitehurst, 2001; Lee & Bowen, 2006). However, there has been less work on how factors such as parents' income, education, frequency of reading, and beliefs are associated with Thai children's vocabulary achievement. Thus, the researcher proposed a theoretically based study to elucidate the influence of the factors like parent-child characteristics, parent's beliefs, and a dialogic reading method on Thai kindergarteners' lexical development.

1.1 Parent Backgrounds and Frequency of Reading with a Child

Parents with variation of backgrounds contribute to different types of children educational involvement because they are not the same in terms of types of behaviors, attitudes, perceptions, socioeconomic status (SES), and educational attainment (Lee & Bowen, 2006). Parents with low levels of education may be less involved at their children's school activities due to several factors including a lack of knowledge of the school system, or their own negative educational experiences (Lee & Bowen, 2006). One provocative finding in the Snow, Burns, and Griffin's (1998) study was that children from low-income families tended to have limited exposure to books, and underdeveloped literacy and language skills. In addition, Hart and Risley (1995) found that the amount that parents talked to their children was associated with the parents' socioeconomic status. High-income parents tended to be taciturn and professionals were talkative, while working-class parents varied greatly from the most talkative to the most taciturn.

The frequency of parent-child reading is one important issue that many educators shed light on since it is associated with children's vocabulary and conceptual knowledge (Storch & Whitehurst, 2001). Drawing on Neuman's (1999) work, children would gain in emergent literacy including alphabet knowledge and print concept when they increasingly accessed storybook reading. In Thailand, approximately 40% of Thai families reported that they never read to their children. Even more concerning is that parents reported that their children also never read a book by themselves (National Statistical Office, 2011).

1.2 Self-Evaluation of English Competence

With respect to Short's (1993) work, self-evaluation allows participants to evaluate a specific piece of their own work or judge their learning progress; it offers participants opportunities for reflection, as well as encourages the participants to take responsibility for assessment. …

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