Cecilia ChangWilliams CollegeSee How They Read: An Investigation into theCognitive and Metacognitive Strategies ofNonnative Readers of Chinese
Project DescriptionThis is a study that investigated the development ofCFL (Chinese as a Foreign Language) reading abilityby examining the discourse processing strategies ofcollege CFL readers at three proficiency levels –after one, two and three years of Chinese languagestudy, and their relationship to comprehensionperformance.
Purpose-- To discover what CFL readers already know and do, aswell as what strategies differentiate highly proficientreaders from those who are less proficient.-- To identify and promote effective reading strategies inorder to optimize learners’ proficiency.
Cognitive & MetacognitiveStrategies in ReadingCognitive strategy – Declarative knowledge of strategyuse.Local level: access to lexical/semantic/syntactic textelements.Global level: inference generation;text integration;background knowledge activation
Cognitive & MetacognitiveStrategies in ReadingMetacognition in Reading (Baker and Brown, 1984) -- The reader’s knowledge about the reading task the reading text reading strategies his or her own learning styleMetacognitive strategy in the current study –Evaluation and procedural knowledge ofstrategy use.
Research Questions1. What is the relationship between CFL learners’cognitive and metacognitive activities duringreading and their reading comprehension?2. How do the cognitive and metacognitiveactivities differ among learners of varyinglanguage proficiencies, and between more andless proficient readers?
Study Design Participants96 CFL learners of three proficiency levels fromvarious programs, both in the U.S. and abroad. MaterialsOne set of the reading passages used in theProgressive Reading Program at USC (Li, 1988).Set includes three passages developed for readingat the second-, third-, and fourth-year levels.
Study Design MethodEach subject read one of the three passages,recalled content in written English, and filled out aquestionnaire about their strategy use.
Findings1. Readers at higher proficiency levels engaged in moreglobal-level processing activities than readers at lowerproficiency levels. This trend was particularlyprominent in the intra-level comparisons of more- andless-proficient readers.2. The global-level processing activities engaged byproficient readers at different proficient levels weredistinctly different in nature.
Level 2-- Compensation Strategies --(Oxford, 1990)Proficient readers were better able to bring their prior knowledge of thereading topic to reading than less-proficient readers ; used context more actively to guess at the meaning ofunknown words ; had stronger tolerance for not knowing the pronunciationof characters/words .
Level 3--Text-driven Processing Strategies --Proficient readers had stronger tolerance for not knowing thepronunciations of characters/words ; had better ability than weaker readers in distinguishingmain points from supporting details ; had better ability in understanding the overall textmeaning ; could better recognize the organization of the text ; could better remember what they had read.
Level 4-- Bidirectional Processing Strategies –(Declarative and Procedural)Proficient readers showed stronger effort in identifying sources ofcomprehension problems; reread from the sentence prior to the problematic part forrepair more than less-proficient readers did; showed stronger effort in monitoring theircomprehension regarded the ability to remember text details as desirablemore than less-proficient readers did.
Level 4-- Bidirectional Processing Strategies –(Text-driven and Knowledge-driven)Proficient readers did not merely focus attention on important parts of thetext when they read; indicated stronger ability in anticipating incominginformation,
Pedagogical Implications Strategies are the causes and the outcomes ofimproved language proficiency (MacIntyre, 1994;Rost, 1991; Phillips, 1991). Only by reaching a certain level will a student belikely to use a given strategy (Bremner, 1999, p.495).
Pedagogical Implications Level 2 – developing tolerance andcompensation strategies at theword/character level. Level 3 – developing readers’ sensitivity tovarious aspects of text structure. Level 4 – developing readers’ keenawareness of procedural abilities.
ConclusionAs Allen et al (1988) pointed out, “textbooks andmethod which teachers employ to teach (reading) alsoreflect a set of assumptions about the text-based natureof the process of reading in a second language” (p. 164),CFL textbook writers must keep abreast with the ever-increasing body of knowledge about second languagereading generated from work on genre theory, discourseanalysis, and background/cultural knowledge inenriching reading curriculum, as well as in transformingthe ways in which reading has been conceptualized andapproached by classroom practitioners in the field ofCFL.