Reading in a Foreign Language
Volume 18, Number 1, April 2006
ISSN 1539-0578

Vocabulary acquisition from extensive reading: A case study
Maria Pigada and Norbert Schmitt

A number of studies have shown that second language learners acquire vocabulary through reading, but only relatively small amounts. However, most of these studies used only short texts, measured only the acquisition of meaning, and did not credit partial learning of words. This case study of a learner of French explores whether an extensive reading program can enhance lexical knowledge. The study assessed a relatively large number of words (133), and examined whether one month of extensive reading enhanced knowledge of these target words' spelling, meaning, and grammatical characteristics. The measurement procedure was a one-on-one interview that allowed a very good indication of whether learning occurred. The study also explores how vocabulary acquisition varies according to how often words are encountered in the texts. The results showed that knowledge of 65% of the target words was enhanced in some way, for a pickup rate of about 1 of every 1.5 words tested. Spelling was strongly enhanced, even from a small number of exposures. Meaning and grammatical knowledge were also enhanced, but not to the same extent. Overall, the study indicates that more vocabulary acquisition is possible from extensive reading than previous studies have suggested.
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Use of L1 in L2 reading comprehension among tertiary ESL learners
Goh Hock Seng and Fatimah Hashim

This study is an attempt to provide insights into the extent of first language (L1) use while reading second language (L2) texts in a collaborative situation among tertiary ESL learners. Through the identification of reading strategies utilized by the subjects, the study is also aimed at discovering possible reasons for the use of L1 while comprehending L2 texts. Four students, whose L1 was Bahasa Melayu, were placed in a group and asked to think aloud while reading English texts. Analyses based on the think-aloud protocols were made to identify the reading strategies utilized by the students. Through these reading strategies, it was found that the L1 was used by all the students in the study and that more than 30% of the total instances of strategy use involved the L1. The study also revealed various reasons for the students' use of the L1 while reading L2 texts particularly in the context of group reading. One reason was that the L1 facilitated resolutions of word-related and idea-related difficulties. Furthermore, using the L1 might have helped the students reduce affective barriers and gain more confidence in tackling the L2 texts.
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Affective variables and Japanese L2 reading ability
Kimi Kondo-Brown

This study investigates how 17 affective factors are related to Japanese second language (L2) reading comprehension and kanji knowledge test scores of 43 university students in advanced Japanese courses. Major findings are that: a) reading comprehension ability and kanji knowledge have direct associations with self-perception of Japanese reading ability, perceived difficulty in learning kanji, and the intensity of motivation for reading Japanese; b) self-perception of Japanese reading ability is correlated more strongly with demonstrated kanji knowledge than with reading comprehension ability; c) students who are more determined to learn Japanese in general seem to have higher intrinsic or extrinsic orientation for reading Japanese, but only those with stronger intrinsic orientation for reading Japanese are more likely to work at reading Japanese; and d) intolerance of ambiguity and disengagement from the analytical study of kanji may be signs of lack of intrinsic orientation and motivation for reading Japanese.
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