Effects of different text difficulty levels on EFL learners’ foreign language reading anxiety and reading comprehension
This study aimed to examine the effects of different text difficulty levels on foreign language reading anxiety (FLRA) and reading comprehension of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners. To this end, 50 elementary EFL learners were selected from two intact classes (n = 25 each). Each class was assigned to a text difficulty level (i.e., ‘i + 1’ and ‘i - 1’) in which the participants experienced extensive reading at different levels of difficulty for two semesters. A reading comprehension test and the Foreign Language Reading Anxiety Scale (FLRAS) were administered before and after the treatment. The results revealed that both text difficulty levels significantly improved the participants’ reading comprehension. The findings also showed that, at the end of the study, the ‘i + 1’ group’s FLRA increased, while that of the ‘i - 1’ group decreased.
Extensive graded reading with engineering students: Effects and outcomes
Extensive graded reading (EGR) was carried out with a cohort of 600 engineering students in a university in northern Japan. Pre-and post-surveys were conducted to discover changes in the general reading habits of students, their attitudes toward the assessment method and how goals changed over the course of study. The first survey was carried out in week 2 of the 15-week course and the second in week 13. An analysis of changes showed that EGR was generally well accepted, that students' perceptions of studying English seemed to improve, that students spent a little less time on recreational reading to compensate for the increases required in the EGR course and that most read considerably more running words than their initial goals. In addition, the results suggest that the short MoodleReader quiz format used for assessment was also generally well received by students. Implications for teachers using EGR are discussed.
Measuring and predicting graded reader difficulty
This study used many-faceted Rasch measurement to investigate the difficulty of graded readers using a 3-item survey. Book difficulty was compared with Kyoto Level, Yomiyasusa Level, Lexile Level, book length, mean sentence length, and mean word frequency. Word frequency and Kyoto Level were found to be ineffective in predicting students' perceptions of book difficulty. Book length was found to be highly predictive of perceived book difficulty, with the Yomiyasusa Levels predicting 68% of variance, while the Lexile measure of mean sentence length was moderately predictive, with 40% of variance explained. These results show that current headword levelling of graded readers is ineffective and that publishers' book levels do not provide useful guidance in selection of books to read. It is therefore recommended that students use book length as their primary consideration in choosing books and that reading recommendations and purchasing decisions be based on Yomiyasusa Levels rather than publishers' levels.
Learning from expository text in L2 reading: Memory for causal relations and L2 reading proficiency
This study explored the relation between second-language (L2) readers’ memory for causal relations and their learning outcomes from expository text. Japanese students of English as a foreign language (EFL) with high and low L2 reading proficiency read an expository text. They completed a causal question and a problem-solving test as measures of memory for causal relations and learning from the text, respectively. It was found that memory for causal relations contributed to text learning in high-proficiency readers, but not in low-proficiency readers. The quantitative and qualitative analysis of causal question answers revealed that low-proficiency readers recalled fewer causal relations and made more incorrect inferences than high-proficiency ones. Additionally, low-proficiency readers tended to perform the problem solving using inappropriate causal sequences and irrelevant information. These findings suggest that low-proficiency readers struggled with processes at both textbase and situation-model levels; consequently, they failed to learn causal relations in the text as knowledge.