Many years ago, as a secondary school teacher, Dr Carol Goldfus from the University of the Free State’s Unit for Language Facilitation and Empowerment, realised that reading comprehension ought to be the focal point of teaching. She came to the conclusion that many adolescents were unable to gain fluency in English as a foreign language despite many years of study and that there were those who struggled with the foreign language. With her postgraduate specialisation in neuroscience and the merging of neuroscience and education, she developed a reading comprehension intervention programme.
Contrary to what we believe, the world is not more visual – but rather more technical, Dr Goldfus explains, and reading with understanding remains of utmost importance in the twenty first century. “Literacy does not only mean reading, but also thinking fast,” she says, “with the ability to sift through the mass of available information. Without reading proficiency, people cannot succeed in a world with so much information. In fact, the ability to identify what is important, and what not, is more crucial than before.”
Reading comprehension is the epicentre of Dr Goldfus’s approach to learning, and her intervention programme may benefit any pupil who is unable to cope with the demands of the academic setting, and can be applied to any language. These pupils include children from seventh to twelfth grade (12 to 18 years of age) who read without comprehension, have dyslexia, dyscalculia (problems with maths), and ADHD (Attention Deficit with or without Hyperactivity), or have dropped out of an education setting. “My intervention programme is in English as a Foreign Langue (EFL) but is not static, since it is based on principles from neuroscience and linguistics that are placed in the world of education. Although it is for EFL, it has a backwash effect on mother-tongue reading competence as well. Each programme comprises certain core principles, like developing self-esteem, monitoring comprehension and learning, and developing long-term memory storage. Without remembering, there is no learning.”
Dr Goldfus feels that it is our duty to give pupils worldwide the ability to cope with a sophisticated, alienated technological world. “My goal is to turn failure into excellence through an understanding of how the brain works. That is what the programme and my research can offer: creating a brain that can support learning where each pupil can fulfil his or her potential.”
|Issued by:||Lacea Loader
Director: Communication and Brand Management