Reading in a Foreign Language
Volume 15, Number 2, October 2003
ISSN 1539-0578

Reading in a Foreign Language: October 2003: abstracts

Promoting English language development and the reading habit among students in rural schools through the Guided Extensive Reading program
Ratnawati Mohd Asraf and Ismail Sheikh Ahmad

This paper describes an extensive reading program conducted in three rural secondary or middle schools in Malaysia, aimed at motivating the students to read extensively in English and helping them overcome their problems in understanding English texts as a means towards increasing their proficiency in the language. The paper begins by discussing the rationale for extensive reading for students in rural schools, the aims and features of the reading program, the materials used, as well as the perceptions of students undergoing the program. The problems faced by the students in understanding texts written in English are particularly highlighted, and implications drawn for the successful implementation of extensive reading programs in rural schools.
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Technical vocabulary in specialised texts
Teresa Mihwa Chung and Paul Nation

This article describes two studies of technical vocabulary, one using an anatomy text and the other an applied linguistics text. Technical vocabulary was found by rating the words in the texts on a four step scale. It was found that technical vocabulary made up a very substantial proportion of both the different words and the running words in the texts, with one in every three running words in the anatomy text, and one in every five in the applied linguistics text being a technical word. A considerable number of technical words were from the first 2000 words of English and the Academic Word List. The article ends with suggestions for helping learners notice and learn technical vocabulary.
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Literacy and foreign language reading
Tony Ridgway

The purpose of this article is to help to give the teacher of foreign language reading a way of coping with a common phenomenon in the reading class: students appear to have the linguistic proficiency to deal with a text, but are unable to do so because they are approaching it in an inappropriate way. It is argued that this problem relates to styles and attitudes in reading, and that these may be considered under the heading of literacy, or literacies. The article explores the relatively recent development of mass literacy internationally, and the differing concepts of literacy that exist within and between cultures. These may affect profoundly how a reader approaches a text. There is a need to make these different approaches explicit, and recommendations are made as to how to do this.
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At what rate do learners learn and retain new vocabulary from reading a graded reader?
Rob Waring and Misako Takaki

This study examined the rate at which vocabulary was learned from reading the 400 headword graded reader A Little Princess. To ascertain whether words of different frequency of occurrence rates were more likely to be learned and retained or forgotten, 25 words within five bands of differing frequency of occurrence (15 to 18 times to those appearing only once) were selected. The spelling of each word was changed to ensure that each test item was unknown to the 15 intermediate level (or above) female Japanese subjects. Three tests (word-form recognition, prompted meaning recognition and unprompted meaning recognition) were administered immediately after reading, after one week and after a three month delay. The results show that words can be learned incidentally but that most of the words were not learned. More frequent words were more likely to be learned and were more resistant to decay. The data suggest that, on average, the meaning of only one of the 25 items will be remembered after three months, and the meaning of none of the items that were met fewer than eight times will be remembered three months later. The data thus suggest that very little new vocabulary is retained from reading one graded reader, and that a massive amount of graded reading is needed to build new vocabulary. It is suggested that the benefits of reading a graded reader should not only be assessed by researching vocabulary gains and retention, but by looking at how graded readers help develop and enrich already known vocabulary.
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