Selamat Datang
欢迎
Vaazhga
Welcome
Professor David Wray
University of Warwick,
United Kingdom
Dr Dahlia Janan
Universiti Pendidikan Sultan
Idris, Malaysia
Many thanks for coming to today’s
meeting
Funded by the British Academy and Universiti
Pendidikan Sultan Idris
A project to establish a research network to
explore the concept and operation of
readability in a range of languages and scripts
What we would like from the day
• To share some ideas and to make
you as enthusiastic as we are about
this topic
• To develop some plans for building a
research network
• To develop a clearer view about
what next
The Contested Concept of
Exploring the nature of readability
• The science (or is it art) of matching texts to
readers
• A taken-for-granted concept – even Word does it
for you!
• Easily measured, easily understood
http://www.onlineutility.org/english/readability_test_and_improve.jsp
• It’s just about how difficult texts are to read
• Isn’t it …..?
How
difficult is
this text?
Is this
text
easier or
harder?
Word says:
Reading
Ease = 65.9
Reading
Grade level
= 6.8
Word says:
Reading
Ease = 65.4
Reading
Grade level
= 6.9
Word’s readability scores for these two texts are
almost identical. Yet they are clearly different in
nature and effect on the reader.
Exploring the nature of readability
• In research into readability, measuring it has
tended to get more attention than actually
analysing what it is.
• Measurement has usually been approached
through the use of formulae.
• For example, Flesch Reading Ease score =
206.835 − (1.015 × ASL) − (84.6 × ASW)
Where: ASL = average sentence length (number
of words divided by number of sentences); ASW
= average word length in syllables (number of
syllables divided by number of words)
Exploring readability formulae
• We applied 6 commonly used readability
formulae to 64 texts chosen by primary
school children.
• The first table shows correlations between
the rank ordering of the texts by the six
formulae.
• The second table shows the mean grade
levels assigned to the texts by the six
formulae.
Exploring readability formulae
Table 1: Spearman's rank order correlation coefficients (rho) between the
SMOG, FOG, Flesch-Kincaid, Spache, Dale-Chall and ATOS formulae
Formula
FOG
FleschKincaid
Spache
Dale-Chall
ATOS
SMOG
.98
.93
.83
-.41
.70
.95
.84
-.47
.74
.88
-.32
.68
-.14
.68
FOG
Flesch-Kincaid
Spache
Dale-Chall
-.49
Exploring readability formulae
Table 2: The mean text grade levels predicted by the six readability formulae
Formulae
SMOG
FOG
Flesch-Kincaid
Spache
Dale-Chall
ATOS
Mean text grade level
predicted
6.64
5.80
3.96
4.05
9.88
3.13
Exploring readability formulae
• These results suggest that the readability
formulae (with the exception of the DaleChall) generally agree about which texts are
harder and which are easier.
• But they do not agree about the levels of
difficulty of the texts.
• Therefore a teacher cannot rely on them to
match texts to readers.
Why such variability?
• Various formulae measure different things
– Word length
– Sentence length
– Unfamiliar / Difficult words
– Polysyllabic words
• Each of these is problematic
Why such variability?
• Various formulae measure different things
– Word length
• adze
• gneiss
• velociraptor
Why such variability?
• Various formulae measure different things
– Sentence length
• The princess kissed the frog and he turned into a
handsome prince so, of course, they married and lived
happily ever after.
• One is and then one is not. That is the problem of
man.
Why such variability?
• Various formulae measure different things
– Unfamiliar / Difficult words
• rug
• neighborhood
Why such variability?
• Various formulae measure different things
– Polysyllabic words
• footballer
• reported
• strengths
Readability or legibility?
Which of these is more readable?
Readability has faded from view –
or has it?
Figure 1: Readability studies in academic publications
1600
1400
Number of publications
1200
1000
JSTOR
800
ScienceDirect
600
400
200
0
1920-1935
1935-1950
1950-1965
1965-1980
Years
1980-1995
1995-2010
Readability has faded from view –
or has it?
• Research into readability has seriously
declined in educational fields.
• But the concept is still heavily used in Health
and Medical fields.
Readability has also become
theoretically problematic
The procedure is actually quite simple. First you arrange things into
different groups. Of course one pile may be sufficient depending on how
much there is to do. If you have to go somewhere else due to lack of
facilities that is the next step, otherwise you are pretty well set. It is
important not to overdo things. That is, it is better to do too few things at
once than too many. In the short run this may not seem important but
complications can easily arise. A mistake can be expensive as well. At first
the whole procedure will seem complicated. Soon however, it will become
just another facet of life. It is difficult to foresee any end to the necessity
for this task in the immediate future, but then one can never tell. After the
procedure is completed one arranges the materials into different groups
again. Then they can be put into their appropriate places. Eventually they
will be used once more and the whole cycle will then have to be repeated.
However, that is a part of life.
Most 9 year olds could ‘read’ this aloud, but not understand it.
Readability has also become
theoretically problematic
When you are told this is about washing clothes, everything becomes clear
The procedure is actually quite simple. First you arrange things into
different groups. Of course one pile may be sufficient depending on how
much there is to do. If you have to go somewhere else due to lack of
facilities that is the next step, otherwise you are pretty well set. It is
important not to overdo things. That is, it is better to do too few things at
once than too many. In the short run this may not seem important but
complications can easily arise. A mistake can be expensive as well. At first
the whole procedure will seem complicated. Soon however, it will become
just another facet of life. It is difficult to foresee any end to the necessity
for this task in the immediate future, but then one can never tell. After the
procedure is completed one arranges the materials into different groups
again. Then they can be put into their appropriate places. Eventually they
will be used once more and the whole cycle will then have to be repeated.
However, that is a part of life.
Changing paradigms
• Theories of readability have changed because
theories of reading have changed. Think how much
information the reader supplies in the following short
texts.
• Mary heard the ice-cream van coming down the
street. She remembered her birthday money and
rushed into the house.
• Mary heard the bus coming down the street. She
remembered her birthday money and rushed into the
house.
Changing paradigms
• Mary heard the ice-cream van coming down
the street. She remembered her gun and
rushed into the house.
• Mary heard the ice-cream van coming down
the street. She remembered her stomach and
rushed into the house.
Non più andrai, farfallone amoroso
A new model of readability
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