Reading in a Foreign Language    ISSN 1539-0578
Volume 20, Number 1, April 2008

Research on good and poor reader characteristics: Implications for L2 reading research in China
Jixian Pang

In reading research, studies on good and poor reader characteristics abound. However, these findings remain largely scattered in applied linguistics and cognitive and educational psychology. This paper attempts to synthesize current theory and research on the topic in the past 20 years along 3 dimensions: language knowledge and processing ability, cognitive ability, and metacognitive strategic competence. A profile of good readers follows a review of the literature. With a special reference to second language (L2) reading research and pedagogy in China, the author argues that a key difference between first language and L2 readers is that L2 readers typically have a gap between their L2 proficiency and their knowledge or conceptual maturation, and this tension determines to some degree the characteristics of good versus poor L2 readers. By examining L2 reading research in the country, the author proposes some areas worth exploring in the Chinese context.
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Spelling knowledge and reading development: Insights from Arab ESL learners
Michael Fender

The aim of the present study was to examine the relationship between spelling knowledge and reading skills among a group of 16 intermediate-level Arab learners of English as a second language (ESL) and a corresponding comparison group of 21 intermediate-level ESL learners in an English for academic purposes (EAP) program. A spelling task was used to assess the English orthographic or spelling knowledge, and standardized reading and listening tests were used to assess the general language processing and comprehension skills of the two groups. The results of the tests indicated that the Arab and non-Arab ESL students were not significantly different in listening (or auding) comprehension, but that the Arab students scored significantly lower on the spelling test and the reading comprehension test. This study discusses possible reasons why Arab ESL learners may exhibit difficulties with English spelling and then discusses the link between spelling knowledge and the development of reading fluency.
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Comparing the vocabulary of different graded-reading schemes
Udorn Wan-a-rom

This study compared graded-reader wordlists with the General Service List (GSL; West, 1953) and investigated the words in those lists and the words actually used in graded-reader books. The wordlists from the 2 major graded-reader series, the GSL, and the words actually used in the graded readers were examined using the Range program. The comparisons showed that the lists are different from each other largely because of the different sizes of the lists and because of the words they contain and do not contain. In addition, the words actually used in the books do not stick closely to the words in the lists on which they are based, especially at Level 1. Conclusions and implications are drawn for practice in extensive reading programs.
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Developing reading fluency: A study of extensive reading in EFL
Yurika Iwahori

Due to the great interest of practitioners on reading fluency in first language (L1) and second language (L2) English classroom settings, fluency has become a hot topic. A number of studies have suggested that an extensive reading (ER) program can lead to improvement of L2 learners’ reading rate; however, studies about high school students are scarce. Inspired by current issues in reading and previous ER investigations, this study examined the effectiveness of ER on reading rates of high school students in Japan. In this study, students were provided with graded readers and comic books as reading material they would find enjoyable. Pretests and posttests of reading rate and language proficiency were administered and a t test was used to compare means of the rates and language proficiency within groups. Results indicate that ER is an effective approach to improve students’ rate and general language proficiency.
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Vocabulary recycling in children’s authentic reading materials: A corpus-based investigation of narrow reading
Dee Gardner

Fourteen collections of children’s reading materials were used to investigate the claim that collections of authentic texts with a common theme, or written by one author, afford readers with more repeated exposures to new words than unrelated materials. The collections, distinguished by relative thematic tightness, authorship (1 vs. 4 authors), and register (narrative vs. expository), were analyzed to determine how often, and under what conditions, specialized vocabulary recycles within the materials. Findings indicated that thematic relationships impacted specialized vocabulary recycling within expository collections (primarily content words), whereas authorship impacted recycling within narrative collections (primarily names of characters, places, etc.). Theme-based expository collections also contained much higher percentages of theme-related words than their theme-based narrative counterparts. The findings were used to give nuance to the vocabulary-recycling claims of narrow reading and to more general theories and practices involving wide and extensive reading.
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