Volume 36, No. 1

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    Facilitating L2 reading comprehension through L1 and L2 group discussions
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2024-05-10) Almalki, Abdulrahman ; Alzahrani, Mohammed
    The current study was set to explore the influence of the first (L1) and second (L2) language group discussions on L2 reading comprehension. It also explored two sub-elements that were considered vital to L2 reading comprehension: (a) text genre recognition and (b) character and author’s intention and perspective. Participants were 21 college students who were assigned to three groups: (a) no-discussion group, (b) L1 (Arabic) discussion group, and (c) L2 (English) discussion group. Students were introduced to five different texts, and mixed data methods were utilized to examine comprehension through participants’ free-written recalls and group discussion transcriptions. The findings showed that when the L1 was used in group discussions, greater reading comprehension of the L2 texts was achieved; students were able to use more reading strategies and higher-order cognitive and linguistic processing than students in the two other groups. The study challenges language learning conventions that prioritize target language-only methods.
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    Incidental Grammar Acquisition Through Meaning-focused Reading: Structure Frequency and Reading Comprehension
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2024-04-22) Nguyen, Chi Duc
    Research shows that meaning-focused reading offers opportunities for incidental grammar acquisition. However, the number of such studies remains limited and none have examined the role of both in-text encounters with grammar structures and reading comprehension in this learning. The present study filled these gaps. Employing a between-group, pretest-posttest-delayed-posttest experiment, this study examined to what extent four groups of English-as-a-Foreign-Language adult learners (n = 132) in Vietnam learnt two specific grammar structures through meaning-focused reading in which they encountered these structures four, six, eight, or ten times. A control group (n = 30) was also added to this experiment to gauge test-taking effects. Grammar gain was measured by a self-report grammar-knowledge scale, while content comprehension by a topic-matching task. All treatment groups were found to make sizeable grammar gains, especially after six encounters with the structures. Reading comprehension could also predict the learning gains. These findings offer various useful pedagogical implications.
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    Japanese university EFL learners’ responses to lexically easy short English poems
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2024-04-15) Nishihara, Takayuki
    This study explored the diverse responses of Japanese university-level learners of English as a foreign language (EFL) to lexically easy short poems. These participants had attained a high level of English proficiency and were able to grasp the literal meaning of the poems. The investigation employed confidence level and reading time as supplementary data points. The study yielded the following findings: (a) the majority of responses were heavily dependent on literal content; (b) learners typically did not substantiate their readings by referencing the poems, but when interpretations deviated from the literal content, they provided more supportive evidence; (c) the learners’ confidence level in creative interpretations was relatively low; (d) considerable variations were observed in meaning construction; and (e) learners spent the same amount of time to produce various interpretations with and without supportive evidence.
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    The perceived and measured difficulty of texts and tasks in L1 and L2
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2024-04-08) Grotek, Monika ; Ślęzak-Świat, Agnieszka
    The study investigates the effect of the perception of text and task difficulty on adults’ performance in reading tests in L1 and L2. The relationship between the following variables is studied: (a) readers’ perception of text and task difficulty in L1 and L2 measured in a self-reported post-task questionnaire, (b) the number of correct answers to the reading tasks, (c) time spent on the task in each language, (d) the number and mean duration of fixations on areas of interest assigned to texts and each of four different task instructions as measured by an eye tracker. The study shows that for readers at an intermediate level of L2, the perceived and measured text and task difficulty is higher for L2, which results in longer mean fixation durations and a higher number of fixation counts. Tasks placed lower on the difficulty scale based on the 7-point scale of reading ability by Khalifa and Weir (2009) are prone to be treated by readers as typical of a specific task format and receive less attention, which often leads to incorrect answers.
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    The authors respond: Issues surrounding reliability, quality, and practicality with timed-reading assessments: Expanding on Carter et al.’s (2023) a unitary measure of L2 silent reading fluency accounting for comprehension
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2024-03-12) Carter, Steven J. ; Wilcox, Matthew P.
    Carter et al. (2023) presented empirical evidence in support of a proposed new measure of L2 silent reading fluency. Referencing their method, this article addresses three separate practical issues related to using timed readings (TRs) to foster L2 reading fluency: TR assessment reliability, quality, and practicality. One seeming limitation of Carter et al.’s (2023) method was the relatively low reliability of three separate TR quizzes used in their study on reading fluency. However, considering that the interpretation and use of reliability estimates should be context-dependent, we argue that the standard expectations of 0.8 or higher may be simply unrealistic given the unique constraints surrounding timed readings. Furthermore, reliability is only one facet of a validity argument and intentional changes aimed at increasing reliability may, at times, come at the expense of other important aspects of validity. This article also offers practical advice for constructing effective TR quiz questions and directs the reader to tools for tracking student readers’ reading fluency progress.
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    Effectiveness of a multimodal approach during online reading strategy instruction
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2024-03-05) Oshima, Sachi
    The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a multimodal approach in which an additional camera was used to deliver online explicit reading strategy instruction. Targeting 20 Japanese beginner-level EFL college students taking online Zoom lessons during one academic semester, two research questions were investigated: (a) To what extent does online reading strategy training using a camera to show the teacher’s pointing gestures enhance beginner-level students’ comprehension of written texts?; and (b) How do beginner-level students perceive the teacher’s online reading strategy training? The results showed that the multimodal explicit strategy instruction increased students’ attentional focus, encouraged them to use target reading strategies, and facilitated their understanding of the reading texts. The students’ responses to a self-reflection questionnaire and interviews showed that their perceptions of this online reading strategy instruction were positive. Further, they reported that their ability to comprehend English texts improved over the length of the course.
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    Variables associated with Second Language Strategy Training: Comments on Lin, Gao, and Huang (2023)
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2024-02-22) Taylor, Alan M.
    This article discusses variables in the study by Lin et al. (2023), demonstrating statistically how important their study is in light of past studies on second language reading strategy training. This commentary shows not only how Lin, Gao, and Huang’s study was well designed, but also that their study has found results that are perhaps even stronger than what they reported. Suggestions for future research include conducting a similar study with language learners at lower levels of proficiency.
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    The Effects of Strategic Adjunct Questions on L2 Reading and Strategy Use
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2024-01-31) Li, Yanjie ; Brantmeier, Cindy ; Gao, Yanming ; Strube, Mike
    This experimental study examined the effect of answering strategic adjunct questions (AQs) on L2 reading comprehension and strategy use. Participants were 124 Chinese intermediate-advanced EFL learners from a large public university in China. Of them, 24 and 100 participated in the pilot study and formal study, respectively. Participants read two expository texts under either condition (with or without strategic Aqs) and completed three comprehension tasks: free written recall, sentence completion, and multiple-choice. Additionally, participants completed an automated Operation Span Task, a demographic questionnaire, a topic familiarity questionnaire, and a reading strategy survey. In the end, participants’ perspectives on strategic Aqs were obtained. This study features a repeated measures design. Paired sample t-test, Pearson correlation, and regression were used for data analysis. Overall, the data revealed a potentially valuable contribution of higher-order Aqs to L2 reading comprehension and strategies use.
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    Reading in a Second Language: Moving from Theory to Practice (2nd Edition) by William Grabe and Junko Yamashita
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2024-01-31) Kusiak-Pisowacka, Monika
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    Corpus Lists for English Learners: Supporting Reading Comprehension of Digital Science Resources
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2024-01-31) Arndt, Rebeca
    This study explored the lexical coverage of corpus-based vocabulary lists (general, academic, and content-specific) across several million tokens gathered from digital science resources (DSR) for middle school (6–8 grade) students in the United States. The goal was to estimate the extent to which a combination of well-known word lists, mostly designed for the needs of L2 learners, might help students reach text coverage that could result in reasonable comprehension of science texts. The findings of this study show that: (a) the top 570 word families in the newer Academic Vocabulary List (AVL) provide 75% more lexical coverage in the corpus than the 570 word families in the older Academic Word List (AWL), (b) a series of lists designed for second language learners, such as General Service List (GSL), Academic Word List (AWL), and the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) Science List (about 2,900 word families) offer 88.33% coverage, and (c) the GSL and the Middle School Vocabulary List (MSVL) for Science (fewer than 2,500 word families) provide 87.77% coverage.