Strategy Awareness-Raising for Success: Reading Strategy Instruction in the EFL Context
Lee, Kyoung Rang
Oxford, Rebecca L
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Researchers and educators have made great efforts to be conscious of students' wide and varied learning processes and to meet individual learners' different needs in one classroom with well-conceptualized and balanced strategy assessment and instruction. Reading is considered very important in academic worlds, including Korea, where English is learned as a second or foreign language (ESL/EFL). Ongoing debates about reading strategy instruction, as well as a lack of methodological consistency in previous language studies, make it particularly difficult for EFL teachers to know how to implement strategy instruction in their classrooms. Therefore, this study was designed to examine the effect of reading strategy instruction (a) on strategy use while reading in a target language (L2) and (b) on L2 reading comprehension. The secondary purposes of this study were to examine (c) the effectiveness of color-coding as a new strategy assessment tool and (d) the influence of L2 reading strategy instruction on reading in a native language (L1). The results were very interesting, both theoretically and in practice. First, reading strategy instruction helped learners develop reading strategy knowledge and raise the reading strategy awareness. Second, reading strategy instruction also promoted text-specific strategy use, but not general strategy use, probably because of the short period of the intervention. In a wash-back process, reading strategy instruction, though focused entirely on L2 reading strategies, also improved Korean (L1) reading strategy use. Third, reading strategy instruction helped learners improve their L2 reading comprehension. Fourth, participants' prior knowledge of English grammar served as a confidence-building comfort zone for learning how to use (a) new reading strategies and (b) a new reading strategy assessment tool, color-coding. Fifth, the innovative color-coding technique proved to be effective for measuring text-specific reading strategy use. In sum, the Korean EFL participants benefited in numerous ways from reading strategy instruction.