Reading in a Foreign Language    ISSN 1539-0578
Volume 27, Number 2, October 2015

Improving EFL learners’ writing through enhanced extensive reading
Aaron David Mermelstein

This study’s purpose is to seek out methods of improving reading and writing for EFL learners. This one-year study focuses on an enhanced design of extensive reading (ER) towards improving learners’ writing abilities. Pre- and posttests used the Jacobs, Zingraf, Wormoth, Hartfield, and Hughey (1981) measurement of writing, including content, organization, vocabulary, language use, and mechanics. A sixth subscale, fluency, was also added. The results indicate significant differences in gains on all of the subscales favoring the treatment group. A measurement of effect size also demonstrated small to large effects across the six subscales. This study demonstrates that an enhancement of previously established ER protocols can achieve significant gains and sizable effects among learners.

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Connecting reading and writing using children’s literature in the university L2 classroom
Priscila Leal

This article investigates the potential benefits of using children’s literature in adult second language (L2) classrooms. A short-term, intensive university course for English reading and writing was designed incorporating children’s literature into the curriculum. The author describes the course and discusses how children’s literature can be used to improve students’ linguistic, cognitive, and socio-emotional skills. Both the teacher’s and students’ perceptions and attitudes towards the use of children’s literature in such a context are addressed. The author concludes that with adults in the L2 classroom, children’s literature can be used as a model for student writing, can engage students in critical thinking, and can be a springboard for meaningful discussions and creative composition. Finally, the author provides suggestions of how language teachers can integrate reading and writing instruction, as well as critical thinking, using children’s literature with adults in L2 classrooms.

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Undergraduate ESL students’ engagement in academic reading and writing in learning to write a synthesis paper
Ruilan Zhao & Alan Hirvela

As an important and a challenging source-based writing task, synthesizing offers rich opportunities to explore the connections between reading and writing. In this article, we report findings from a qualitative study of two Chinese students’ learning experiences with academic synthesis writing in a university ESL composition course. Specifically, we discuss how the two students’ understanding of synthesis and sources influenced their synthesis writing practices and how they perceived the connections between their reading strategies and synthesis writing processes. Our results reveal that the students’ understanding of synthesis and the functions of sources played a crucial role in learning to synthesize, as did their ability to use rhetorical reading strategies to complete this new literacy task. We argue that whether second language (L2) students understand the complex reading-writing relationships underlying synthesizing is crucial for their successful textual production. These findings carry valuable implications for understanding reading and writing connections and teaching L2 source-based writing.

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Integrated reading and writing: A case of Korean English language learners
Hyonsuk Cho & Janina Brutt-Griffler

This study reports Korean English language learners’ perceived needs concerning their learning of reading and writing and how the integrated reading and writing instruction impacts their reading comprehension and summary-writing abilities. The study also delineates teacher’s challenges faced during the instruction. A total of 93 students in a middle school in Korea participated in a needs survey, and 69 students at three proficiency levels received the integrated instruction. The study found that students desired extra help on their writing to gain balanced English competence; also they wanted to learn reading and writing together. After the intervention, students at intermediate and advanced levels showed significant improvement on the integrated reading and writing test; however, no improvement was found at the beginning level regarding both experimental and control groups. Yet, the scores on multiple-choice reading test at all levels failed to significantly improve.

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Using close reading as a course theme in a multilingual disciplinary classroom
Leora Freedman

An adaptation of the traditional literary concept of close reading was developed for use in a largely multilingual classroom in which both first language (L1) and second language (L2) students were struggling to comprehend theoretical, lexically dense texts in English. This simplified method of reading a text iteratively and critically is proving helpful in encouraging student compliance with reading assignments as well as progress in academic writing capabilities. This method was developed through collaboration between an East Asian Studies (EAS) department and the university’s English Language Learning (ELL) specialist. The large lectures are supplemented by small-group discussions with teaching assistants (TAs), who also engage in reflective professional development workshops to build their own skills in teaching close reading. Materials generated for both students and faculty through this initiative are being disseminated in other departments, and TAs have noted an overall improvement in students’ fulfillment of reading assignments as well as their ability to generate written arguments.

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Reading, writing, and learning English in an American high school classroom
Betsy Gilliland

Commercial publishers have shaped reading and writing instruction in American schools through their interpretations of state-developed reading and writing standards and standards-aligned materials, which teachers then implement in English classes, including those serving multilingual learners. This paper uses microethnographic discourse analysis to examine how reliance on published texts for reading activities led a teacher to focus on correct answers and formulaic writing tasks, whereas teacher-created activities fostered greater engagement among multilingual learners. Focused on a ninth grade English class at a California public high school, this study’s findings suggest that reading was used primarily in service of preparation for high stakes writing assessments, but teachers can adapt their instruction to better build on multilingual students’ existing knowledge and curiosity.

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