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Second Language Reading Issues. TSL 591 : MTR Hudson, Chapter 3. The Question. When talking about second language reading the main question that needs to be addressed is: Is it a reading problem or a language problem ?

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second language reading issues

Second Language Reading Issues

TSL 591 : MTR

Hudson, Chapter 3

the question
The Question
  • When talking about second language reading the main question that needs to be addressed is:
    • Is it a reading problem or a language problem?
  • The question is central to sorting the causes and origins of 2nd language reading problem.
views of 2 nd language reading
Views of 2nd Language Reading
  • Hulstijn (1991)
    • Questions on whether good or poor readers read in the same way in their 1st language need to be addressed
    • Why?
    • Increase in our understanding of 2nd language reading proficiency when link to theories of 1st language research
    • Important in our understanding of 2nd language reading if the reading processes are similar
views of 2 nd language reading cont
Views of 2nd Language Reading-cont.
  • Differences between 1st and 2nd language readers:
  • Since L2 readers are proficient in the 1st language, they may transfer L1 skills to L2
    • May assist or interfere
  • Reading in L1 normally begins after speaking in L1 is advanced, but L2 learners do not normally master spoken skills when reading instruction begins.
  • Great cognitive difference between child 1st language readers and adult 2nd language readers
views of 2 nd language reading cont1
Views of 2nd Language Reading - cont
  • Two contrasting views on second language learners’ success in foreign language reading
  • Success in reading a foreign language depends upon 1st language reading ability rather than level of English
  • Reading problems of second or foreign language learners are the result of imperfect knowledge of the language
views of 2 nd language reading cont2
Views of 2nd Language Reading - cont
  • Alderson’s hypotheses on 2nd language reading performance:
  • Poor reading in FL is due to poor reading in L1
  • Poor reading in FL is due to inadequate knowledge of TL

Modifications to the above hypotheses:

  • Poor FL reading is due incorrect strategies used, strategies not similar to L1
  • Poor FL reading is due to strategies in L1 not being employed in FL due to inadequate knowledge in FL. Good L1 readers will read well in FL once passed a threshold of FL ability.
research into 1 st language 2 nd language relationships
Research into 1st Language & 2nd Language Relationships
  • Studies tend to find:
    • Strong relationship between 2nd language linguistic ability and 2nd language reading ability
    • Moderate relationship between 1st language reading ability and 2nd language reading ability, depending upon level of language ability
  • Studies by Perkins et al. (1989) & Carson et al . (1990):
    • Indicate a moderate relationship between 1st language and 2nd language reading
    • Suggest that some transfer of reading ability is possible
research into 1 st language 2 nd language relationships cont
Research into 1st Language & 2nd Language Relationships – cont.
  • Studies by Carrell (1991) and Yamashita (2002) looked at L2 Reading = L1 Reading + L2 Language Proficiency
  • Findings of both studies suggest:
    • Strong relationship between 1st language and 2nd language reading for higher-level students
    • Once readers become more advanced 1st language reading ability becomes increasingly important
research into 1 st language 2 nd language relationships cont1
Research into 1st Language & 2nd Language Relationships – cont.
  • Bosser’s (1991) study:
    • Examined the relation between 1st language reading, 2nd language reading and 2nd language ability
    • Results:
      • 2nd language ability and 1st language reading play a substantial role in 2nd language reading
      • Possible existence of a threshold level before learners are limited in their ability to transfer 1st language reading abilities to 2nd language reading context
research into 1 st language 2 nd language relationships cont2
Research into 1st Language & 2nd Language Relationships – cont.
  • Lee & Schallert (1997):
    • Examined whether no or little effective transfer of L1 reading strategies until the learner reached a threshold level of L2 ability
    • Results:
      • L1 reading ability contributed less to L2 reading ability than L2 proficiency
      • There is a language threshold where L1 reading skills begin to contribute to L2 reading ability.
research into 1 st language 2 nd language relationships cont3
Research into 1st Language & 2nd Language Relationships – cont.
  • Fecteau (1999):
    • Examined relationship between L1 and L2 reading of literature for more advanced-level FL learners
    • Result:
      • Subjects were able to transfer L1 language literature reading skills to reading L2 literature
research into 1 st language 2 nd language relationships cont4
Research into 1st Language & 2nd Language Relationships – cont
  • Donin & Silva (1993):
    • Attempted to differentiate aspects of L2 reading comprehension specific to reading in L2 from factors relevant to understanding text in any language
    • Result:
      • Reading time slower when reading in L2
research into 1 st language 2 nd language relationships cont5
Research into 1st Language & 2nd Language Relationships – cont
  • Taillefer (1996):
    • Examined the relationship between L1 reading and L2 reading across 2 different tasks
    • Results:
      • L1 reading ability and L2 proficiency to be significant predictors of FL reading depending upon the particular reading task.
      • More demanding reading tasks may call on greater need for L2 proficiency
      • The use L1 reading ability aids the L2 reader only after the reader has a threshold of L2 ability.
summary
Summary
  • There are interrelationships between L1 reading ability, L2 proficiency and L2 reading performance
  • Results of research tend to show that L2 proficiency plays a greater role that L1 reading ability
    • Also it is dependent on the type of reading task
    • Most important at the lower level of L2 proficiency
  • Interactions between the 3 elements above is dependent on whether the learners are in foreign or 2nd language context