The shape of the written word itself produces an image to a reader that helps in decoding, by providing clues to names and sentences (Tinker 1963).Check this for yourself, by looking at a sentence written in all capital letters, then compare it to text written in both upper and lower case letters.
Many of our students have come from situations where computer access has not been available and because of that background they are trying not only to learn a second language, but are also are trying to gain the technology skills that they see in other students.
This article discusses some of the ways word processing can be used, both by the teacher and by the student, to improve language ability and learning while acquiring modern technology skills. First, many features of word processing can improve readability for students.
There are many word processing applications available. RTF may not include all the features of word processing applications, like images, page numbering, tables, etc., so your instructor may require using a specific word processing application for certain assignments or classes.
Each word processor saves files in a slightly different version from each other. In your word processing application, select "Save As" from the File menu. Look for Rich Text Format (.rtf) in the Save as type drop-down list. You can now attach the file to a Blackboard assignment, and your instructor should be able to open it.
An advantage of word processing is the ability to change many aspects of text appearance.
Some font styles are easier to read than others are.Some font sizes are more comfortable than others are, and some font colors provide better contrast than others.Research has discovered (Tinker, 1963, Prince 1967) that very young (early elementary) or emerging readers prefer to read a san serif font (block print) and that as they develop they change their reading preference to serif fonts.You can easily adjust font size by highlighting the text, going up your toolbar (or format menu) and selecting a new font size.A small increase in font size may make your written material much easier for students to understand.Most word processors will allow you to change the color of your text to emphasize a word or passage, and format the words to a new color.Many new word processors also have the ability to highlight text.In addition to using a font style that is easy to read, you can improve readability by altering the font size.Research has found that younger children read better with larger fonts, where children under seven prefer a font size of about 24 point and as the children get older the font size decreases to about 11 point (Bloodsworth, 1993).In this case, the word processor acts as if you used a highlighting marker, allowing you to mark over words and passages.Research has found that the contrast that exists between yellow and black is greater than the contrast existing between black and white, making items highlighted in yellow much easier for most people spot and recognize (Outdoor First, 1999).