Reading in a Foreign Language
Volume 15, Number 1, April 2003
ISSN 1539-0578


Does gender make a difference? Passage content and comprehension in second language reading
Cindy Brantmeier

The intermediate level of Spanish language instruction prepares learners for the rigorous reading of authentic texts utilized in the advanced literature course. This study examined the effects of readers' gender and passage content on second language (L2) reading comprehension with participants from this transitional level of instruction. Seventy-eight participants read two different authentic passages commonly used at this level. Two different measures were used to assess comprehension: a written recall and multiple choice questions. Findings reveal significant interactions between readers' gender and passage content with comprehension on both assessment tasks. The results of the study provide evidence that subject matter familiarity has a facilitating effect on second language (L2) reading comprehension by gender at the intermediate level of Spanish language instruction. back to table of contents | article | pdf version

Metadiscourse and ESP reading comprehension: An exploratory study
Belinda Crawford Camiciottoli

Recent trends in the study of written texts reflect a growing interest in interaction between readers and writers. Several studies have focused on metadiscourse as an important interactive feature that is believed to facilitate the reading process. While several authors have studied metadiscourse from the descriptive and contrastive perspectives, there is a lack of experimental work on this topic. This paper describes exploratory classroom research with a group of Italian university students to gain further insight into the effect of metadiscourse on ESP reading comprehension. Two groups of students read selected extracts from two versions of the same text differing according to quantity and type of metadiscourse. Each group then took a reading comprehension test and their mean scores were compared. The findings suggest that a more pronounced use of metadiscourse may be associated with improved comprehension in some cases. A post-reading questionnaire showed that students had substantially no awareness of metadiscourse. The results provide useful indications for further research and also highlight the need for targeted instruction on metadiscourse in ESP reading courses.
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Making form-meaning connections while reading: A qualitative analysis of word processing
Susanne Rott and Jessica Williams

This study was a qualitative exploration of the effect of multiple-choice glosses and periodic L2 text reconstruction on lexical acquisition. L2 readers of German engaged in a think-aloud procedure while reading a short text and retelling its content in German after each of four short sections. In each section, four unfamiliar target words (TWs) were embedded. Half of the participants' passages contained multiple-choice glosses for the TWs. Reading behavior and test scores for the +gloss and no-gloss groups differed, suggesting that a) glosses triggered a search for concrete meaning and firm form-meaning mapping; b) a lack of glosses corresponded with global text processing, skipping of words and shallow meaning mapping; c) multiple encounters helped +gloss readers to gain semantic information and refine their understanding of the TWs; d) for those who established form-meaning connections in the input phase, the output task may have strengthened those connections, e) the post-test designed to measure word recognition may have had a strong learning effect.
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