Literacy is an important life skill and involves proficiency in reading and writing. As an academic subject, literacy encompasses skills such as reading and writing – as well as more specialised areas, like linguistics, phonics instruction, and spelling.
In spite of the undeniable link between reading and writing, there are still some instances whereby these two skills are treated separately. It is known that students who have not mastered one of these skills frequently need writing help to polish their papers. Needless to say, if you want to teach your student how to be an effective writer, you have to encourage them to be a voracious reader (and vice versa).
But there are some findings that suggest that the relationship between the reading-writing connection is much stronger in one direction than the other: Some students who read well, write well. But almost all students who write well, read well. The reason is that writing requires more mental energies than reading (I’m sure you’d agree that you it’s far easier to read a book, than write one yourself!).
When it comes to the topic of reading-writing connection, I am reminded of the insights from Steve Graham. According to him:
- We combine reading and writing for functional purposes because they draw upon similar knowledge bases. Our background knowledge helps us interpret what we are reading and also informs what we write. If students read about a topic before they write about it, this gives them information that they can then use when writing.
- When students write about a text they are reading, whether that be responding to questions, taking notes, or summarising the material, this also helps them to better understand and retain the material they are reading.
- Reading and writing instruction don’t need to be kept separate. When combined, there are positive effects both in terms of students learning to write and in terms of students to learning to read.
- Reading and writing are both acts of communication. As students become skilled readers, they notice more than just the content of the text. Readers potentially observe sentence and paragraph structures, variations in pacing, and recurring themes. These observations cause the reader to employ metacognitive skills and try to get inside the writer’s head. Similarly, to write effectively, a writer must consider the perspective and needs of the reader.
Research has shown that when students receive writing instruction, their reading fluency and comprehension improve. However, Simply knowing that reading and writing are shared processes isn’t enough. In order to help students develop these two important skills, teachers need to apply this knowledge when working with them.
So what are the best strategies to use to enhance reading and writing altogether? This could be done in a number of ways such as genre study, reading to develop writing, and using phonics. If you would like to read more resources about this area, I suggest you have a look at this resources from Tes.
Do you have any suggestions how to develop reading-learning link among your students? Do let me know in the comments below?
Rona dela Rosa is a PhD student at Bulacan State University, where she is doing her research project on language and education.
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