Reading in a Foreign Language    ISSN 1539-0578
Volume 26, Number 1, April 2014

Jumping from the highest graded readers to ungraded novels: Four case studies
Jez Uden, Diane Schmitt, & Norbert Schmitt

This study follows a small group of learners in the UK to the end of a graded reading program using the Cambridge Readers and investigates whether this particular graded reading series provides a bridge to reading unsimplified novels for pleasure. The participants’ reading comprehension, reading rates, vocabulary text coverage, and overall affect were measured and used for comparison between two of the highest level Cambridge Readers and two ungraded novels. The four books were also analysed to investigate the potential ‘gap’ in vocabulary coverage between graded and ungraded fiction. The overall results revealed that learners can progress from a graded reading program using the Cambridge Readers to reading unsimplified novels for pleasure, but are likely to experience a reduction in vocabulary coverage from over 98% to around 95%. It was also found that the gap between graded and unsimplified novels may not be as big as previously thought.

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Pleasure reading and reading rate gains
David Beglar & Alan Hunt

This study investigated the effects of (a) the amount of pleasure reading completed, (b) the type of texts read (i.e., simplified or unsimplified books), and (c) the level of simplified texts read by 14 Japanese university students who made the largest reading rate gains over one academic year. The findings indicated that the participants who made the greatest fluency gains read an average of 208,607 standard words and primarily read simplified texts up to the 1,600-headword level. This study also provides an empirically supported criterion for the minimum amount learners should read annually (i.e., 200,000 standard words), provides direct evidence that simplified texts are more effective than unsimplified texts for reading rate development, and is the first study to provide empirical evidence that reading lower-level simplified texts within learners’ linguistic competence is effective for developing the reading rates of Japanese learners at a lower-intermediate reading proficiency level.

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Pleasure reading behavior and attitude of non-academic ESL students: A replication study
Eunseok Ro & Cheng-Ling Alice Chen

The present study replicated the methods and data analysis of Crawford Camiciottoli’s (2001) study on second language (L2) reading behavior of academic English-as-a-foreign-language students. Using the original study’s questionnaire, we investigated 60 advanced non-academic English-as-a-second language learners’ L2 reading frequency and attitude. Descriptive statistics and multiple regressions were applied for the analysis. Our study revealed differentiated findings, while partially confirming Crawford Camiciottoli’s results. In contrast to the original study, we found that the participants with positive attitudes towards reading tend to read more and that experience in the target-language culture and years of previous English study did not show statistically significant results on the participants’ reading habits and attitudes. On the other hand and in line with the original study, first language (L1) reading correlated with L2 reading habits, and lack of time was the most selected reasons for poor reading habits.

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Changes in reading habits by low literate adults through extensive reading
Victoria Rodrigo, Daphne Greenberg, & Don Segal

This study analyzes the effect of two reading interventions on reading habits by 181 low literate adults who read at the 3-5.9 grade levels. One intervention implemented extensive reading (ER group) and the other one had direct instruction (no-ER group). A Reading Pattern survey was administered at the beginning, at the end, and 6 months after the intervention. Statistical results suggest that the ER group, which had access to books, free choice of reading material, and time to read during instruction hours, was more motivated to read, developed a reading habit, and experienced a positive change in reading behavior. These changes stayed over time, 6 months after treatment. This study strongly suggests that adult learners can benefit from extensive and pleasure reading and that a well-equipped library, easy access to books, and encouragement and time to read are all key factors in the development of reading habits.

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What's so simple about simplified texts? A computational and psycholinguistic investigation of text comprehension and text processing
Scott A. Crossley, Hae Sung Yang, & Danielle S. McNamara

This study uses a moving windows self-paced reading task to assess both text comprehension and processing time of authentic texts and these same texts simplified to beginning and intermediate levels. Forty-eight second language learners each read 9 texts (3 different authentic, beginning, and intermediate level texts). Repeated measures ANOVAs reported linear effects of text type on reading time (normalized for text length) and true/false comprehension scores indicating that beginning level texts were processed faster and were more comprehensible than intermediate level and authentic texts. The linear effect of text type on comprehension remained significant within an ANCOVA controlling for language proficiency (i.e., TOEFL scores), reading proficiency (i.e., Gates-MacGinitie scores), and background knowledge, but not for reading time. Implications of these findings for materials design, reading pedagogy, and text processing and comprehension are discussed.

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Scoring recalls for L2 readers of English in China: Pausal or idea units
Cindy Brantmeier, Michael Strube, & Xiucheng Yu

Written recall may be a powerful tool used to address reading deficiencies in China. With 180 students enrolled in a third-year English class at a large university in northeastern China, the present investigation studies the relationship between pausal and idea units used to codify written recalls, and it investigates whether the strength of the relationship between pausal and idea units depends on other variables, such as length of time spent studying English, the amount of leisure reading done in English, or the version of passage. Findings indicate a strong correlation between idea units and pausal units for written recalls. This correlation underscores prior findings by Bernhardt (1991), and it reveals that the strength of the relationship between pausal and idea units does not depend on the moderating variables examined. Results are discussed in light of prior research and a detailed discussion of future directions for experiments of this type is offered.

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Semantic radical knowledge and word recognition in Chinese for Chinese as foreign language learners
Xiaoxiang Su & Young-Suk Kim

In the present study, we examined the relation of knowledge of semantic radicals to students’ language proficiency and word reading for adult Chinese-as-a-foreign language students. Ninety-seven college students rated their proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing in Chinese, and were administered measures of receptive and productive knowledge of semantic radical position and function. A latent variable for language proficiency was constructed based on the number of semesters in Chinese courses, and students’ self-rating in Chinese. Two language proficiency groups were reliably formed. Students with higher language proficiency had significantly better performances on all the measures of knowledge of semantic radicals and word recognition. Furthermore, the receptive and productive knowledge of semantic radical position and productive knowledge of semantic radical function were positively related to word reading after controlling for proficiency level. Productive knowledge of semantic radical function was uniquely and positively related to word reading after accounting for proficiency level and other measures of semantic radical knowledge.

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Cognitive and linguistic factors affecting alphasyllabary language users comprehending Chinese text
Mark Shiu Kee Shum, Wing Wah Ki, & Che Kan Leong

Two groups of 13 to14-year-old alphasyllabary language users (mainly Hindi and Urdu), in integrated or designated school settings (respectively 40 and 48 students), were compared with 59 Chinese students in comprehending 4 elementary Chinese texts, each with three inferential questions requiring short open-ended written answers. Three constructs each with two indicators were hypothesized to predict text comprehension differentially in the three groups: verbal working memory, orthographic processing and sentence processing. The 147 students also completed a short questionnaire on their reading and writing of Chinese, a 43-item Students’ Approaches to Learning and a non-verbal general intelligence test. Multivariate analyses of variance and hierarchical multiple regression analyses point to the significant contribution of verbal span working memory, orthographic choice in context and sentence processing in Chinese to Chinese text comprehension. Educational implications include strengthening teaching the structure and function of Chinese characters and words to enhance text comprehension.

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