Reading in a Foreign Language    ISSN 1539-0578
Volume 26, Number 2, October 2014

How much input do you need to learn the most frequent 9,000 words?
Paul Nation

This study looks at how much input is needed to gain enough repetition of the 1st 9,000 words of English for learning to occur. It uses corpora of various sizes and composition to see how many tokens of input would be needed to gain at least twelve repetitions and to meet most of the words at eight of the nine 1000 word family levels. Corpus sizes of just under 200,000 tokens and 3 million tokens provide an average of at least 12 repetitions at the 2nd 1,000 word level and the 9th 1,000 word level respectively. In terms of novels, this equates to two to twenty-five novels (at 120,000 tokens per novel). Allowing for learning rates of around 1,000 word families a year, these are manageable amounts of input. Freely available Mid-frequency Readers have been created to provide the suitable kind of input needed.

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Reading rate gains during a one-semester extensive reading course
Jeffrey Huffman

Extensive reading (ER) is an effective way to provide large amounts of comprehensible input to foreign language learners, but many teachers and administrators remain unconvinced, and it has been argued that there is still insufficient evidence to support the claims that have been made regarding its benefits. Few studies have looked at ER’s effect on reading fluency. This article reports on an investigation of the reading rate gains of Japanese nursing college freshmen during a one-semester ER course, with students in an intensive reading (IR) course serving as the comparison group (N = 66). The ER group achieved significantly higher reading rate gains (20.73 wpm) than the IR group (-.62 wpm), without sacrificing comprehension. These results add to a growing body of empirical evidence of the effectiveness of ER.

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Toward independent L2 readers: Effects of text adjuncts, subject knowledge, L1 reading, and L2 proficiency
Cindy Brantmeier, JoAnn Hammadou Sullivan, & Michael Strube

With 97 learners in an advanced Spanish course, the study examines the effects of textual enhancement adjuncts, prior subject knowledge, first language (L1) reading ability, and second language (L2) Spanish proficiency on L2 comprehension of scientific passages. Readings included two texts with two types of embedded questions: a pause or written answer. MANOVA was used to examine the main effects and interaction of textual enhancement adjuncts on three types of comprehension tasks. Findings revealed that embedded questions did not assist L2 readers to comprehend better. The effect of embedded questions on comprehension was not moderated by L1 reading ability, L2 overall proficiency nor by prior subject knowledge. Although prior subject knowledge and L1 reading comprehension were positively related to comprehension, the use of textual enhancements did not compensate for weaknesses. This study provided evidence that, with advanced L2 learners, embedded questions do not aid L2 reading comprehension.

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Strategic Processing and Predictive Inference Generation in L2 Reading
Shingo Nahatame

Predictive inference is the anticipation of the likely consequences of events described in a text. This study investigated predictive inference generation during second language (L2) reading, with a focus on the effects of strategy instructions. In this experiment, Japanese university students read several short narrative passages designed to elicit predictive inferences under instructions either to understand the passage or to anticipate the outcome of the events described. Each passage was followed by a lexical-decision probe word that was related to the expected inference. In addition, a cued recall task was conducted after reading all the passages. Analysis of lexical decision times revealed that inferences were generated during reading only when instructions encouraged predictions. Furthermore, the facilitation effect of instructions was prominent among higher L2 proficiency readers. The results of the recall task showed that readers’ comprehension of explicit text information was not impaired by focusing attention on implicit predictive information.

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