CROSS-LANGUAGE TRANSFER: THE STRATEGIC READING PROCESSES OF EIGHTH-GRADE TAIWANESE READERS IN CHINESE AND ENGLISH WITHIN A SELF-REGULATED LEARNING FRAMEWORK

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2007-12-13

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Although the relationship between first language (L1) and second language (L2) reading strategies has been discussed in existing literature, few studies have examined this relationship among L2 readers whose L1 is sharply different from their L2, who are at the middle-school age range, and who are learning English as a foreign language (EFL), i.e., in a setting where English is not used in daily communication. This mixed-methods study used a task-based reading strategy inventory, a background questionnaire, think-alouds and semi-structured interviews. This study began as an attempt to address the gaps in research by investigating 345 Taiwanese 8th grade students who were learning English in an EFL setting, and whose L1 (Chinese) differs greatly from their L2 (English) especially in their writing systems: one is non-alphabetic, and the other is alphabetic. The two languages also differ morphologically and syntactically. The purposes of this study were: (a) to examine how 8th grade Taiwanese readers monitored, regulated, and controlled their reading-related thoughts and actions (i.e., reading strategies) to comprehend expository texts in the L1 (Chinese) and the L2 (English); (b) to investigate the relationship between reading achievement and reading strategies; (c) to examine the transfer of strategies across languages; (d) to uncover students' views and attitudes toward L1 and L2 reading tasks and reading strategies; and (e) to study the relationships among six personal variables with overall reading strategies. The results indicated that high-achieving readers reported using strategies more frequently, diversely, and consistently for both Chinese and English reading. In addition, the high-achieving readers seemed to require more language-based strategies to process the L2 linguistic elements. Further, the findings supported the possibility of cross-language transfer of reading strategies even when the writing systems of the L1 and L2 were very dissimilar. However, for the weaker readers, limited language proficiency--or more specifically, limited L2 vocabulary--seemed to be a primary factor that short-circuited the transfer process. The last important finding is that those L2 readers who rated their reading achievement higher also valued reading strategies, enjoyed L2 reading, and spent more time on reading were likely to report using more strategies.

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