Reading in a Foreign Language    ISSN 1539-0578
Volume 24, Number 2, October 2012

The cerebral basis for language learner strategies: A near-infrared spectroscopy study
Osamu Takeuchi, Maiko Ikeda, & Atsushi Mizumoto

In this paper, we validate Macaro’s (2006) model of strategy use among language learners by assessing the amount of neural activity around the prefrontal cortex, the supposed locus of working memory (WM). We also examine whether WM activation during first language (L1) strategy deployment is lower than WM activation during second language (L2) strategy deployment, as predicted by Macaro’s model. In the analysis, we consider data obtained through an innovative neuroimaging technique (near-infrared spectroscopy) and stimulated- recall interviews. The results reveal greater brain activity during execution of the L1 and L2 tasks than in a control condition; further, use of strategies in the L2 resulted in stronger WM activation than use of strategies in the L1. These results provide partial support for the validity of Macaro’s model.

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Textual enhancements and comprehension with adult readers of English in China
Cindy Brantmeier, Aimee Callender, Xiucheng Yu, & Mark McDaniel

The present study utilizes texts from social psychology to examine the effects of textual enhancements on reading comprehension with 185 native adult Chinese speakers learning English in China. Participants read two different vignettes, either with or without an adjunct. Each adjunct consisted of a ‘what’ question along with instructions to either ‘pause and consider’ or ‘pause and write.’ Participants also completed written recall, sentence completion, multiple-choice, and a topic familiarity question. Across passages, findings revealed significant effects of passage version on comprehension as measured via recall and sentence completion and no significant effects of passage version on multiple-choice questions. Participants scored almost the same on recall and sentence completion for versions with no adjuncts and versions with ‘pause and consider’ adjuncts, and they scored significantly lower on these assessment tasks for the version with pause and write adjuncts. Participants scored the same on multiple-choice questions for all three versions of both passages.

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Oral reading fluency in second language reading
Eun Hee Jeon

This study investigated the role of oral reading fluency in second language (L2) reading. Two hundred and fifty-five high school students in South Korea were assessed on three oral reading fluency (ORF) variables and six other reading predictors. The relationship between ORF and other reading predictors was examined though an exploratory factor analysis (EFA). Next, the contribution of ORF to silent reading comprehension was investigated though multiple regression analyses (MRA) with ORF variables as predictors of reading comprehension. EFA identified two factors (fluency and comprehension) and showed that passage reading fluency crossloaded with both factors. MRA results indicated that the three ORF variables collectively explained 21.2% of variance in silent reading comprehension. Oral passage reading fluency alone explained 20.9% of variance in silent reading comprehension. After controlling for pseudoword reading and word reading fluency, oral passage reading fluency still accounted for an additional 12.4% of the remaining reading variance.

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Lexical inferencing in reading in L2 Russian
William J. Comer

This study describes how intermediate-level first language (L1) English readers of Russian as a second language (L2) deploy lexical inferencing and other strategies when reading informational texts. Fifth-semester students of Russian performed think-alouds while reading two texts; one written for the general adult reader, and the other meant for school-age children. Reader think-alouds were transcribed and coded for strategy use and lexical inferencing. Results rank the frequency of reader strategy use and show trends in how readers vary their strategy use depending on the text type. Readers’ difficulties in using context as well as phonological and morphological analysis for inferring the meaning of unknown words are analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. Implications of these results for selecting texts and for scaffolding these selections are considered.

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Metacognitive awareness of reading strategy use in Arabic as a second language
Ahmad Alhaqbani & Mehdi Riazi

This paper reports a study that investigated university students’ awareness of their reading strategy use when they read Arabic academic texts. One hundred and twenty-two undergraduate L2 Arabic students mostly from Africa and Asia completed a 30-item survey of reading strategies. Results indicated that these students perceived problem-solving reading strategies to be more useful than global and support strategies. Moreover, a statistically significant relationship was found between participants’ self- rated Arabic reading ability and their overall strategy use (r = 0.233), problem-solving strategies (r = 0.236), and global strategies (r = 0.239). Finally, it was found that African background students reported more global strategy use than Asian background students, and junior and senior students reported consistently higher strategy use in all the three strategy categories compared to the first and second year students. Findings are discussed in light of the reading strategy knowledge base as well as the theoretical and practical implications.

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