Assessing the Readability of Māori Language Texts for Classroom Use
Thesis DisciplineMaori Studies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This project sought to find a rigorous and manageable method for measuring the difficulty of texts in te reo Māori written for children, beyond junior reading material in Māori-medium educational settings.
The project examined a range of readability measures based on semantic and/or syntactic features of text, following the work of Warwick Elley (1969) and Richard Benton et al. (1995). Features such as the difficulty of content words, average sentence length, standardised type:token ratios and the use of function words were used in different combinations to create seven methods to measure text difficulty.
Teachers’ and students’ ratings of text difficulty, and students’ scores on reading comprehension tasks related to the texts were used as criteria to examine the validity of the readability methods. The findings revealed that indices of either vocabulary load or lexical density when used in combination with the number of function types in the text, produce statistical significance with the criterion measures. Further research is needed to confirm their validity for use in Māori –medium classroom settings.
The Māori word lists developed for this project as the basis of the readability approaches have the potential for more widespread analyses of language proficiency measures for students in Māori-medium settings.