The aim of this study consists of two major parts: in the first place, the goal is to show to which extent the reading behavioral patterns as well as the reading methods of children and the youth have changed and developed during the past few decades. In the second place, the focus of the study shifts to the educational situation in which German as a foreign language is being taught. Important differences between mother tongue and foreign language education are pointed out and guidelines are given concerning the usage of reading as an important skill in the process of mastering German successfully. The activity of “reading” has been an integral part of the human composition and lifestyle since the earliest days of known human existence. The reading of a vastly different range of literature enriches a person’s life in a variety of ways and influences a person’s thoughts and deeds greatly to a positive extent. The reading of different types of literature can lead to the acquirement of new knowledge as well as the development of existing knowledge, new or unknown facts and information can be discovered and reading can also be utilized for the means of pure relaxation. Quite a large number of factors have contributed during the course of the last few decades to a negative development and decline in the reading patterns as well as the reading methods of the society in general – for example, the new innovations in technology, especially the increasing usage of the computer, as well as the hustled and hurried human lifestyle in which time as a very valuable and precious commodity has become extremely limited. Mainly due to above-mentioned factors a definite decline in the reading activities of children and the youth can be observed and therefore this distressing trend forms one of the major focus points of this mini-dissertation. One of the most important and influential role players in the process of establishing an early liking and love for reading is undeniably and obviously the parental home, as well as the parents’ reading behavior and habits. Another and equally important role player in the development of desired reading behavior of children and the youth are the schools and/or other educational institutions. Consequently another focus point of this study will therefore be the reading methods, which are applied in the teaching situation and the reader in a foreign language situation, as well as the reading process which takes place during the learning of a foreign language (such as German) will specifically be taken into consideration. The latter is especially important in the South African context, because German in this country is mainly being taught as a foreign language. Reading as one of the four main skills (reading; listening; speaking; writing) required in the process of learning a new (foreign) language has been a subject of scientific research since the beginning of the 20th century. In the past few decades a variety of studies in the fields of sociology, didactics and linguistics have been undertaken and the diverse theories that have resulted from these studies are a prominent fact. The interest in the reading habits of children and the youth has been rekindled during the recent decade or two and in-depth studies have indicated to which extent learners’ reading skills not only influence their ability to master a foreign language, but also contribute to the learning of other study material as well. Studies that were undertaken in Germany were mainly being made use of during the research process of this mini-dissertation, in view of the fact that the focus of the material is of course German as a foreign language. The method of research, which was applied in this mini-dissertation, is mainly a literature study and analysis. Several theories concerning the reading habits and reading behavior and/or –disposition of children and the youth towards the various forms of literature, the sociology of different reading types and the importance of the development of reading skills in especially the teaching of German as a foreign language are being investigated, analysed, discussed and compared in the various chapters. Relevant and timely information has been obtained from a comprehensive range of literary sources. Books, magazine articles, reference books as well as the internet (especially concerning the results of the most recent studies being done in German schools) have been used extensively to gather relevant information, which have consequently been compiled in such a way that for example teachers could consult and utilise this mini-dissertation in a practical and useful manner, wherever applicable.
Dissertation (MA (German))--University of Pretoria, 2006.