Reading in a Foreign Language    ISSN 1539-0578
Volume 21, Number 1, April 2009

Russian orthography and learning to read
Eugenia Kerek and Pekka Niemi

The unique structure of Russian orthography may influence the organization and acquisition of reading skills in Russian. The present review examines phonemic-graphemic correspondences in Russian orthography and discusses its grain-size units and possible difficulties for beginning readers and writers. Russian orthography is governed by a hierarchical, relatively regular 3-tier system of rules, complicated by numerous exceptions. Many theorists find that the key to this regularised complexity lies in Russian morphology. This review presents the perspectives of prominent Russian linguists on what linguistic units Russian orthography represents, and it evaluates and analyses their relevance for contemporary reading research.
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Early reading strategies in Irish and English: Evidence from error types
Christine E. Parsons and Fiona Lyddy

For the majority of people in Ireland, Irish is a second language acquired primarily through the schooling system. This study examined the reading strategies children used in response to English and Irish words (presented in isolation), through an analysis of their oral reading errors. Children in their 4th year of schooling attending English-medium schools, immersion schools, and Irish-medium schools in Irish-speaking (Gaeltacht) regions participated. The English-medium school children scored significantly below the other 3 groups on the Irish task; the Gaeltacht school children scored below the other 3 groups on the English task. Overall, the children made significantly more real-word errors on the English task compared with the Irish task and significantly more nonword errors on the Irish task compared with the English task. These findings suggest that children learning to read in English and Irish may adopt different strategies when faced with unfamiliar words from each language.
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Chinese senior high school EFL students’ metacognitive awareness and reading-strategy use
Lawrence Jun Zhang and Aijiao Wu

This paper reports findings from a study that assesses metacognitive awareness and reading-strategy use of Chinese senior high school students who are learning English as a foreign language (EFL). A total of 270 students responded to a 28-item survey of reading strategies (SORS). The strategies were classified into 3 categories: global, problem-solving, and support. The results showed that the students reported using the 3 categories of strategies at a high-frequency level. Both the main effect for strategies and the main effect for learners’ proficiency were significant. The high-proficiency group outperformed the intermediate group and the low-proficiency group in 2 categories of reading strategies: global and problem-solving; but no statistically significant difference was found among the 3 proficiency groups in using support strategies. Pedagogical implications of these findings are discussed in relation to the changing Chinese society.
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The effects of cultural familiarity on reading comprehension
İsmail Hakkı Erten and Salim Razı

This study investigated whether cultural familiarity influences comprehension of short stories and whether nativizing the story or using reading activities can compensate for the lack of such familiarity. The study was conducted with 44 advanced-level students of English at a state university in Turkey. In a 2 × 2 experimental research design, the 1st group of students read an original short story without any activities while the 2nd group of students read the original short story with some activities. The 3rd group read the nativized version of the text without any activities while the 4th group read the nativized version with the same set of activities as the 2nd group. The analysis of variance indicated a better comprehension of the nativized story. The activities contributed to the comprehension of the original story, but the difference caused by nativization remained intact, indicating a powerful impact of cultural schema on comprehension.
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