Reading in a Foreign Language ISSN 1539-0578
Volume 19, Number 1, April 2007
To investigate factors that motivate Japanese high school students to read English extensively, I assessed 219 female high school students who participated in an extensive reading program for 1 academic year. The results showed that the 2 most influential factors were students’ intrinsic motivation for first language (L1) reading and second language (L2) reading. However, no positive relationship between L1 reading motivation and L2 reading motivation was observed. Follow-up interviews, conducted with 1/3 of the participants, illuminated aspects of the motivation that the quantitative data did not reveal. Several enthusiastic readers of Japanese were not motivated to read in English due to the gaps between their abilities to read in Japanese and in English. In contrast, the intrinsic motivation of enthusiastic readers of English was limited to L2 reading and did not extend to their L1 reading habits.
Content schemata, linguistic simplification, and EFL readers’ comprehension and recall
This study investigated the effects of linguistic simplification and content schemata on reading comprehension and recall. The participants, 240 Iranian male students of English as a foreign language (EFL), were divided into 4 homogeneous groups, each consisting of 60 participants (30 with high proficiency and 30 with low proficiency). To elicit data, the study used 2 types of texts: content-familiar and content-unfamiliar. Each type appeared in 4 versions: original, syntactically simplified, lexically simplified, and syntactically-lexically simplified. Each participant group was tested on 1 of the linguistic versions of the content-familiar and content-unfamiliar texts. Data analyses showed a significant effect of the content and EFL proficiency, but not of the linguistic simplification, on reading comprehension and recall. The effect of the linguistic simplification on reading comprehension and recall is interpreted in the light of the interaction of content and linguistic simplification.
Graphic organizers in reading instruction: Research findings and issues
As an instructional tool, graphic organizers (GOs) have been highly recommended and used in contemporary classrooms. Over the past decade, a number of concerns have been raised about claims for the effectiveness of GOs. These concerns involve the inconsistent research results on student improvements, the limitation in generalizability from research studies, and the need for research studies with second language (L2) students and with more extended instructional exposure time. This paper argues that GOs, which directly represent the discourse structures of a text, provide stronger evidence for the effectiveness of the technique, and these versions of GOs should be adopted in comprehension instruction. The authors propose a number of generic forms of graphic representations that apply to regularly recurring text structures, and recommend further research on the impact of GOs with learners of English as a second or foreign language as well as research that involves more extended instructional time.
Ten high-school students of English as a second language (ESL) intensively studied the modified version of The Cay (retold by Strange, 1997). During their study the teacher asked questions designed to elicit students’ comprehension and understanding of racism and prejudice as the main themes of The Cay. Analysis of classroom discourse data indicated that none of the students independently identified these themes. This article shows the results of a comparative analysis of extracts from the original version of The Cay (Taylor, 1994) with the modified The Cay (Strange, 1997) in order to provide an explanation for ESL students’ inability to identify the themes of racism and prejudice in The Cay. An example from classroom discourse data is used to illustrate students’ difficulty in answering the teacher’s theme-related questions. This article also outlines several pedagogical implications and suggestions for using modified fiction texts in ESL classrooms.
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