Use of L1 in L2 reading comprehension among tertiary ESL learners

Goh, Hock Seng
Hashim, Fatimah
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University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center
Center for Language & Technology
This study is an attempt to provide insights into the extent of first language (L1) use while reading second language (L2) texts in a collaborative situation among tertiary ESL learners. Through the identification of reading strategies utilized by the subjects, the study is also aimed at discovering possible reasons for the use of L1 while comprehending L2 texts. Four students, whose L1 was Bahasa Melayu, were placed in a group and asked to think aloud while reading English texts. Analyses based on the think-aloud protocols were made to identify the reading strategies utilized by the students. Through these reading strategies, it was found that the L1 was used by all the students in the study and that more than 30% of the total instances of strategy use involved the L1. The study also revealed various reasons for the students' use of the L1 while reading L2 texts particularly in the context of group reading. One reason was that the L1 facilitated resolutions of word-related and idea-related difficulties. Furthermore, using the L1 might have helped the students reduce affective barriers and gain more confidence in tackling the L2 texts.
First language, collaboration, reading strategies, think-aloud, text comprehension
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