Reading in a Foreign Language    ISSN 1539-0578
Volume 21, Number 2, October 2009

Teacher modeling: Its impact on an extensive reading program
Jason Kok Khiang Loh

This case study investigates whether teachers model reading in 1 Singapore primary school during an exercise called uninterrupted sustained silent reading (USSR) carried out in the classroom. Even though reading is an important determinant of a student’s growth in language skills and ability, and modeling the act of reading is essential in influencing students, we hypothesize that teachers do not model the act of reading. This study seeks to find out if teachers practice what they preach about reading by making the effort to model the act of reading. This study uses an observation log, questionnaire surveys, and semi-structured interviews. Fifty teachers were observed during USSR daily for 10 weeks and surveyed. Purposeful and systematic samplings were used to identify the teachers for the interviews. The study confirms our hypothesis that even though the teachers believe in the importance of reading and modeling, they do not model reading.
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L1 glosses: Effects on EFL learners’ reading comprehension and vocabulary retention
Ying-Hsueh Cheng and Robert L. Good

The present study examines the effects of 3 kinds of glosses—first-language (L1) Chinese glosses plus second-language (L2) English example sentences, L1 in-text glosses, and L1 marginal glosses—in comparison with a no-gloss condition in reading an English passage, to explore whether providing glosses can facilitate reading comprehension and vocabulary acquisition. A total of 135 undergraduate business and engineering students at 4 English proficiency levels studying at a technical university in Taiwan completed 1 vocabulary pretest, 1 reading session, 1 posttest, and 2 delayed vocabulary recall tests. The study found that L1 glosses helped subjects learn new words and review learned words. Learners’ retention declined between the immediate and the 1st delayed recall tests. However, between the 1st and 2nd delayed recall tests, a slight increase in retention was observed for all groups. Unexpectedly, reading comprehension did not improve significantly. Additionally, a questionnaire queried learners’ experience using glosses during reading.
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A limitation on reading as a source of linguistic input: Evidence from deaf learners
Joseph H. Bochner and Anne M. Bochner

This paper identifies a general limitation on printed text as a source of input for language acquisition. The paper contends that printed material can only serve as a source of linguistic input to the extent that the learner is able to make use of phonological information in reading. Focusing on evidence from the acquisition of spoken language and literacy skills in deaf individuals, the paper explains why print is not an adequate source of input for language acquisition in learners with limited phonological knowledge of a spoken language.
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Topic congruence and topic interest: How do they affect second language reading comprehension?
Sang-Ki Lee

Because human memory is largely reconstructive, people tend to reorganize and reevaluate an event in a way that is coherent to the truth values held in their belief system. This study investigated the role of topic congruence (defined as whether the reading content corresponds with readers’ prior beliefs towards a contentious topic) in second language (L2) reading comprehension. In addition to the main variable, topic congruence, the role of topic interest was also explored. Sixty Korean native readers in the US and Korea read two argumentative passages in English, one discussing the pros of voluntary euthanasia, the other presenting the cons. Quality analysis of immediate recall protocols, defined as relative amount of higher and lower levels of information units correctly remembered, was performed by a repeated-measures multivariate analysis of variance. The results showed that topic congruence and topic interest affected the L2 readers’ recall of lower-level textual information in complex ways.
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Heritage background, motivation, and reading ability of upper-level postsecondary students of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean
Kimi Kondo-Brown

In upper-level university foreign language (FL) courses, FL and heritage language (HL) students are often merged into the same classroom in a single-track system. This study investigates whether HL background is a critical factor that may prevent instructors from teaching reading effectively in single-track upper-level university courses. This issue was explored based on reading ability self-ratings and motivation data collected from 123 FL and HL upper-level postsecondary students of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. The study suggests that HL background per se does not seem to be a critical factor that differentiates the reading ability self-ratings and motivation profiles of such FL and HL students. Overall, students in both groups are strongly motivated to read or at least strongly interested in reading in the target language because of its extrinsic values (knowledge-based and instrumental values). For both groups of students, those who give themselves higher self-ratings seem to be more intrinsically involved in reading in that language. The study concludes by discussing pedagogical implications and making suggestions for future research.
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Academic English reading proficiency at the university level: A Norwegian case study
Glenn Ole Hellekjær

In this paper the academic English reading proficiency of 578 Norwegian university students was quantitatively examined. Self-assessment items were used to measure reading proficiency in Norwegian and English and validated using an International English Language Testing System Academic Reading Module. The study found that about 30% of the respondents had serious difficulties reading English, while an additional 44% found it more difficult than reading in their first language. The main problems encountered were unfamiliar vocabulary and slow reading, while extracurricular readers and respondents who were able to guess word meanings from context had higher reading scores. Poor language proficiency was a problem for many, to the extent that they fell below the linguistic threshold level. The study showed that, contrary to expectations, Norwegian EFL instruction at upper-secondary schools fails to develop the academic English reading proficiency needed for higher education.
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