Reading in English as a Foreign language: Examining differences in reading speed, comprehension, efficacy and L1 cross-linguistic influence across grades
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Reading in a second or foreign language (L2) is a more complicated process than reading in one's first language because it requires additional demands on the reader. Reading can be assessed from various domains. Reading fluency is known to be the most determining domain to identify reading problems (Rasinski, 2000). However, the goal of reading is comprehending a text, so comprehension should not be disregarded either. Despite the importance of reading in an L2, few studies have focused on examining its effects. The goal of the present study is threefold: first, to provide the estimates of L2 English reading rates of L1 Catalan/Spanish students of different ages and grades; second, to examine whether there are significant differences between participants of different grades in terms of reading rates, comprehension and efficacy; and third, to explore whether the students' reading rates in the L1 are correlated with their L2 reading rates and if so, the extent to which L1 reading rates explain L2 reading rates. 790 Catalan/Spanish learners of English participated in the present study. Participants were from 5th grade primary (age 12) to 2nd baccalaureate (age 18). They were asked to read two texts, one in English and the other one in their L1 (they could choose between Catalan or Spanish). They were asked to answer 7 multiple-choice comprehension questions after reading each text. Next, their scores on fluency (words read per minute), comprehension (percentage of comprehended text) and efficacy (a formula that integrates speed and comprehension) were obtained. Results show that reading fluency and comprehension are not linear and that they do not necessarily improve over time. Results also show that L1 and L2 reading fluency rates are highly correlated and that L1 reading rates explain a large percentage of L2 reading rates.
Is part ofInvestigaciones sobre Lectura, 2018, vol. 9, p. 1-49.
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