Reading in a Foreign Language    ISSN 1539-0578
Volume 27, Number 1, April 2015

Effects of forward and backward contextual elaboration on lexical inferences: Evidence from a semantic relatedness judgment task
Akira Hamada

Three experiments examined whether the process of lexical inferences differs according to the direction of contextual elaboration using a semantic relatedness judgment task. In Experiment 1, Japanese university students read English sentences where target unknown words were semantically elaborated by prior contextual information (forward lexical inferences) and by subsequent contextual information (backward lexical inferences). Accuracy of semantic relatedness judgments, and reaction times to target-probe words demonstrated that participants could activate lexical inferences in either case. These findings were replicated in Experiments 2 and 3, where sentence chunks were presented one at a time to prevent the use of a rereading strategy. Taken together, the results suggest that whereas the processes of forward lexical inferences are involved in context-word integration by anticipating upcoming word meanings, those of backward lexical inferences are operating an unknown word in working memory, finding highly elaborative contexts, and then integrating the contextual message with the possible meaning.

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Reading and learning from L2 text: Effects of reading goal, topic familiarity, and language proficiency
Yukie Horiba & Keiko Fukaya

This study examined the effect of reading goal, topic-familiarity, and language proficiency on text comprehension and learning. English-as-a-foreign-language (EFL) students with high and low topic-familiarity read and recalled a text. Some were told in advance to expect a recall task in a particular language—the first language (L1) or second language (L2)—and recalled in the same language (the L1-L1 condition and the L2-L2 condition). Others were told of the L1 recall before reading and later recalled in the L2 (the L1-L2 condition). It was found that content recall was enhanced in the L1-L1 condition whereas incidental vocabulary learning benefited from the L2-L2 condition. Language proficiency affected overall content recall while topic-familiarity facilitated processing of specific content information. These findings suggest that reading goal affects resource allocation during text processing, with topic-familiarity and language proficiency intervening additively.

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First language grapheme-phoneme transparency effects in adult second-language learning
Elizabeth Ijalba & Loraine K. Obler

The Spanish writing system has consistent grapheme-to-phoneme correspondences (GPC), rendering it more transparent than English. We compared first-language (L1) orthographic transparency on how monolingual English- and Spanish-readers learned a novel writing system with a 1:1 (LT) and a 1:2 (LO) GPC. Our dependent variables were learning time, decoding, and vocabulary. We found a main effect for transparency. Participants learned LT faster and decoded more words in LT than in LO. L1 reading characteristics influenced learning. English-readers decoded more words in the LO-LT sequence and Spanish-readers decoded more words in the LT-LO sequence. Spanish-readers had more difficulty recalling the meaning of LO than LT words; for English-readers there was no difference between the two word types. Our findings indicate that readers’ L1 orthographic transparency or GPC type influences L2 decoding and the learning of L2 words from combined written-auditory teaching.

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Language learner strategy by Chinese-speaking EFL readers when comprehending familiar and unfamiliar texts
Jia-Ying Lee

This study compares the language learner and test-taking strategies used by Chinese-speaking graduate students when confronted with familiar versus unfamiliar topics in an English multiple-choice format reading comprehension test. Thirty-six participants at a large mid-western university performed three tasks: A content knowledge vocabulary assessment, two practice reading comprehension passages from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) internet-based test (iBT), and a post task interview. Two stages of analysis, qualitative and quantitative, were undertaken in this study. From the qualitative results, six broad categories of strategies emerged. For the quantitative analysis, ANOVA with repeated measures was completed, and the results showed that the types of test-taking strategies adopted by Chinese-speaking students remained similar when they read passages with familiar versus unfamiliar topics. Discussions and implications related to test-taking and reading pedagogy are provided in the conclusion.

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The influence of translation on reading amount, proficiency, and speed in extensive reading
Nobuko Sakurai

This study attempted to examine the influence of a decrease in translation on the number of words read reading comprehension, and reading rate in an extensive reading (ER) program. The participants were 70 first-year university students who experienced ER both in and outside the classroom for 15 weeks. The results of regression analyses confirmed that a decrease in translation and grammar analyses statistically significantly affected all three. A further investigation found that a decrease in translation overall as well as in grammar analyses made a difference in the means of the number of words read and the post-test scores. Moreover, a decrease in translation at the word level was statistically significant on reading comprehension, and so was a decrease in translation at the sentence level on the amount of reading. The results were discussed referring to automaticity together with the prior educational experience and mentality of typical Japanese students.

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