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The Practice Of Extensive Reading   Tran Hoai Giang   051 E1   Thesis
 

The Practice Of Extensive Reading Tran Hoai Giang 051 E1 Thesis

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  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
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  • You are an excellent researcher, if possible send me a soft copy at hue.le96@yahoo.com, thank you so much!
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  • Chào Giang, thesis của em viết rất hay và hữu ích. Nếu được, em có thể gửi cho chi xin bản soft copy của em nhé.(email: daisy1604nd@gmail.com) Thanks alot.
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  • Giang, you're a good researcher. I really admire your writing, so thoughtful and concise paper!!!
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    The Practice Of Extensive Reading   Tran Hoai Giang   051 E1   Thesis The Practice Of Extensive Reading Tran Hoai Giang 051 E1 Thesis Document Transcript

    • VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES ENGLISH DEPARTMENT TRẦN HOÀI GIANG THE PRACTICE OF EXTENSIVE READING BY SECOND-YEAR ENGLISH MAJORS AT ULIS, VNUH SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF BACHELOR OF ARTS (TEFL) Hanoi, May 2009
    • Hanoi, May 2009 VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES ENGLISH DEPARTMENT TRẦN HOÀI GIANG THE PRACTICE OF EXTENSIVE READING BY SECOND-YEAR ENGLISH MAJORS AT ULIS, VNUH SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF BACHELOR OF ARTS (TEFL) SUPERVISOR: PHÙNG HÀ THANH, M.Ed
    • ACCEPTANCE I hereby state that I: Trần Hoài Giang, 051E1, being a candidate for the degree of Bachelor of Arts (TEFL) accept the requirements of the College relating to the retention and use of Bachelor’s Graduation Paper deposited in the library. In terms of these conditions, I agree that the origin of my paper deposited in the library should be accessible for the purposes of study and research, in accordance with the normal conditions established by the librarian for the care, loan or reproduction of the paper. Signature May, 2009
    • ACKNOWLEDGEMENT On completing this graduation paper, I would like to thank many people for their invaluable help during the conduct of the research. First and foremost, I would like to send my heartfelt gratitude towards my supervisor Ms. Phung Ha Thanh, M.Ed for her critical and timely feedback, her constant understanding and her unfailing encouragement, without all of which I would not be able to complete this paper. I would also like to say the sincerest thanks to those second year students who have participated in the study, especially the five students who helped me with the later phase of the study. Their participation have been crucial to the completion of the research. Furthermore, I would love to thank all the teachers who have taught me academic writing and research methodology, as well as my family and friends who have never failed to encourage me to overcome the many obstacles during the research. Last but never least, I owe my thanks to the readers for their interests in and feedback of the paper. i
    • ABSTRACT The role of reading in second and foreign language acquisition has been widely acknowledged. Among different approaches to teaching and learning reading, extensive reading has received worldwide acceptance from researchers and educators for its many benefits to the learners. Despite a wealth of research data in this area, there is a significant gap in insight into how extensive reading is practiced in the context of Vietnam, particularly at ULIS, VNUH. Thus, this study aims at describing how second-year English majors there practice extensive reading by seeking answers to six research questions related to the students’ reading amounts, materials, strategies, purpose, difficulties, and their perception of the benefits of extensive reading. In the first phase, large-scale survey questionnaires were employed to study 110 students’ reading amounts, materials and strategies. Based on the students’ level of strategy usage, five participants were selected to answer in interviews in phase two of the study, which focused on their reading purposes, difficulties, and perception of benefits of extensive reading. The results from both phases showed that (1) the students did not read much and frequently; (2) they tended to read short and inauthentic materials; (3) they used strategies at moderate and high level but there was a discrepancy in their use of sub- groups of strategies; (4) they read for more extrinsic purposes than intrinsic one; (5) most of their difficulties were more related to reading than context-bound; and (6) some of them did not know of many benefits of extensive reading. The findings from the study hopefully will benefit not only researchers and teachers interested in reading but also students by raising their awareness of their own practice. ii
    • TABLE OF CONTENTS TABLES OF CONTENTS PAGE Acknowledgement ..............................................................................i Abstract ...............................................................................................ii List of tables and figures ....................................................................vii CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 1. Rationale of the study ......................................................................1 2. Aims and objectives of the study ....................................................4 3. Significance of the study .................................................................4 4. Scope of the study ...........................................................................5 5. Methods of the study .......................................................................6 6. Overview of the rest of the paper ....................................................7 CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW 1. Extensive reading ............................................................................8 1.1 Definition of extensive reading...........................................8 1.2 Extensive reading and intensive reading.............................10 1.3 Benefits of extensive reading ..............................................12 2. Reading materials ............................................................................16 2.1 Graded readers.....................................................................16 2.2 Unsimplified texts ...............................................................18 iii
    • 3. Reading amount...............................................................................20 3.1 Definition of reading amount ..............................................20 3.2 Factors affecting reading amount........................................22 3.3 Effects of reading amount ...................................................23 4. Reading strategies............................................................................24 4.1 Definition of strategies........................................................25 4.2 Classification of strategies ..................................................26 4.3 Strategies and the good readers...........................................28 CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY 1. Settings of the study ........................................................................31 1.1 The current teaching and learning of reading skill at English Department, ULIS, VNUH.....................................31 1.2 The place of English reading in other courses taught in English Department, ULIS, VNUH. .......................................32 2. Design of the study ..........................................................................33 3. Phase one .........................................................................................34 3.1 Sampling..............................................................................34 3.2 Data collection ....................................................................35 3.2.1 Justification for the use of survey questionnaires..35 3.2.2 Description of the questionnaire............................36 3.2.3 Procedure of data collection ..................................39 3.3 Data analysis .......................................................................40 iv
    • 4. Phase two ........................................................................................41 4.1 Sampling..............................................................................41 4.2 Data collection.....................................................................43 4.2.1 Justification for the use of in-depth semi-structured interviews..............................................43 4.2.2 Description of the interview schedule ...................43 4.2.3 Procedure of data collection ..................................44 4.3 Data analysis .......................................................................45 CHAPTER 4: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION 1. Phase one .........................................................................................47 1.1 Research question 1: Students’ reading amounts................47 1.2 Research question 2: Students’ reading materials ..............48 1.3 Research question 3: Students’ reading strategies ..............49 1.3.1 Students’ general usage of strategies.....................49 1.3.2 Students’ usage of particular strategies .................50 2. Phase two .........................................................................................54 2.1 Research question 4: Students’ reading purposes...............54 2.2 Research question 5: Students’ reading difficulties............56 2.3 Research question 6: Students’ perception of the benefits of extensive reading...............................................58 2.4 Summary of findings about each participant ......................59 2.4.1 Findings about Anh................................................60 v
    • 2.4.2 Findings about Bich ...............................................61 2.4.3 Findings about Chi.................................................61 2.4.4 Findings about Dung..............................................62 2.4.5 Findings about Hoa................................................63 CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION 1. Major findings of the study .............................................................65 2. Pedagogical implications from the findings....................................67 3. Limitations of the study and suggestions for further study.............69 REFERENCES APPENDICES Appendix 1: Questionnaire – Vietnamese version Appendix 2: Questionnaire – English version Appendix 3: Semi-structure interview schedule Appendix 4: Categorization of strategies according to Mokhtari & Sheorey (2002) vi
    • LIST OF TABLES, FIGURES, AND ABBREVIATIONS TABLES PAGE Table 1: The differences between intensive and extensive reading ....11 Table 2: Summary of international research on ER ............................15 Table 3: Comparison of simplified and original versions of Dracula.19 Table 4: Participants in phase one .......................................................35 Table 5: Profiles of participants in phase two (pseudonym names)....42 Table 6: Students’ reading frequency..................................................47 Table 7: Students’ exposure to print and time spent reading ..............48 Table 8: Students’ reading materials ...................................................49 Table 9: Strategies of highest frequency of usage...............................51 Table 10: Strategies of lowest frequency of usage..............................52 Table 11: High-order thinking strategies.............................................53 FIGURES Figure 1: Change in use of process strategies over time .....................27 Figure 2: Participants’ general level of strategy usage .......................50 ABBREVIATIONS ULIS: University of Languages and International Studies VNUH: Vietnam National University, Hanoi ER: Extensive reading vii
    • CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 1. Rationale of the study The role of reading in second and foreign language acquisition has been widely acknowledged. Among different approaches to teaching and learning reading, extensive reading – “reading in quantity and in order to gain a general understanding of what is read” (Richards & Schmidt, 2002, p.443) – has received worldwide acceptance from researchers and educators of second and foreign language. This approach, which is essentially based on Smith’s (2004) widely cited idea that people “learn to read by reading” (p.169) and Krashen’s (1981) “comprehensible input” theory, has been proved to be beneficial for the readers in many ways. Nation (1997) summarized the benefits of extensive reading (ER) as having both positive cognitive and affective effects on the readers (improving readers’ communicating skill, help readers acquire and retain vocabulary, motivate readers in reading in particular and in their language study in general). Evidence of concern over and interest in ER is shown through a large body of research studies on different aspects of ER. The effects of ER on extensive readers have been carefully examined through empirical research done by Krashen & Mason (1997); Gribbons, Krashen & Rodrigo (2004); Jacobs, Lituanas & Renandya (2001); and many others like Janopoulos (1986), Gradman & Hanania (1991), Lee et al. (1996), Kim & Krashen (1998), Elley & Mangubhai (1983), Elley (1991, 1998), as cited in Hoang (2007). The results from all those studies are consistent with Nation’s list of ER benefits as mentioned earlier. Researchers also focus on different aspects of ER, such as reading motivation and reading amount (Baker & -1-
    • Wigfield, 1999; Cox, Guthrie, Metsala and Wigfield, 1999; Moorman, Turner & Worthy 1999; Quach, 2007; and Hoang, 2007). Besides, reading strategies are also paid special attention to by researchers like Kerr, Rynearson and Taraban (2000, 2004); Mokhtari & Sheorey (2002); Akyel & Salataci (2002); Burbaum, Charlton & Pette (2004), and Nguyen (2007) (cited in Hoang, 2007). Relationship between these factors (reading motivation, amount, strategies, and achievement) are shown to be complicated through these studies. The subjects of research varies in geographical and demographic background, from US (Gribbons, Krashen & Rodrigo, 2004) and Turkey (Akyel & Salataci, 2002) to Japan (Krashen & Mason,1997); Philippines (Jacobs, Lituanas & Renandya,2001), Hong Kong (Krashen & Lao, 2000), Singapore (Jacobs, Rajan, and Renandya, 2008), and Vietnam (Quach, 2007); from middle-school children (Baker & Wigfield, 1999; Cox, Guthrie, Metsala and Wigfield, 1999) to college students (Krashen & Mason,1997; Kerr, Rynearson and Taraban, 2000) and adult foreign language learners (Jacobs, Rajan, and Renandya, 2008). Despite such a wealth of research data in the area of extensive reading, research implications cannot be applied in every context, to every subject. In Vietnam, unlike in many other countries, extensive reading can be considered a new approach. An extensive reading program was introduced to Vietnam National University in Hanoi only three years ago, and the extent of implementation of the program is still limited (to second- year students in 2005-2006 academic year, to third-year students in 2007- 2008, and to second-year English majors in 2008-2009 academic year in ULIS, VNUH) (Hoang, 2007). In addition to the teachers and students’ unfamiliarity with ER, EFL students in Vietnam have much less exposure to the English language in comparison with those in other countries. Moreover, the traditional method of teaching and learning, which puts -2-
    • heavy weight on short-term goals like exam scores and degrees (Phan, 2005), prevails and presents considerable challenges to new, more progressive approaches and methods in teaching. All these points justify the need for more research in ER in Vietnam. So far, several studies have been carried out in relation to ER in Vietnam. Both Hoang’s research paper (2007) and Quach’s thesis (2007) were about the outcomes of ER programs applied in ULIS, VNUH, with the former examining the program’s effects on third-year students as well as their evaluation of the program and the latter focusing on the effects on first-year students and the relationship between reading amount and reading performance. Tran (2008) studied ER effects on tenth graders’ vocabulary, and Nguyen’s (2007) thesis about students’ perception and use of critical reading skills, as cited in Hoang (2007), touched upon an important issue in ER, i.e. reading strategies. Peculiarly, Jacobs, Rajan, and Renandya (2008) conducted research on the impact of ER on Vietnamese senior officials who were taking a two-month intensive English language course in Singapore. The studies listed above have provided significant insight into the reality of ER in Vietnam and / or for Vietnamese native speakers who are learning English as a foreign language. However, there is a paucity in a detailed description of how ER is practiced by the students, especially second-year students in VNUH who are now taking part in an ER program for the first time in their academic years as a compulsory subject. Whether and to what extent the well-known effects of ER are realized depends to a considerable degree on how the students do their reading. Therefore, the researcher has decided to conduct a study on the practice of extensive reading by second-year English majors at ULIS, VNUH. -3-
    • 2. Aims and objectives of the study The study aims at providing a description of how second-year English majors at ULIS, VNUH practice extensive reading. The researcher is interested in drawing an overall picture of these students’ reading amounts, reading materials as well as reading strategies. Furthermore, the researcher wanted to gain deeper insight into the reading purposes and the difficulties that students differing in reading practice encounter together with their perception of the benefits of extensive reading. These aims could be achieved by finding answers to the following six research questions: 1) What are the extensive reading amounts done by second-year mainstream English teacher trainees at ULIS, VNUH? 2) What are the materials for extensive reading selected by those students? 3) What strategies are used by those students when they do extensive reading? 4) What are the purposes of extensive reading of those students? 5) What are the difficulties those students encounter in their practice of extensive reading? 6) What are the benefits of extensive reading as perceived by those students? 3. Significance of the study As the study is finished, it is expected to have several contributions to not only research on but also the teaching and learning of reading. -4-
    • Firstly, as the current research into the area of extensive reading in Vietnam is highly limited, this study will partly fill the gap in the literature and serve as a source of reference for other researchers who are interested in the same or related issues. Secondly, the findings from the study can provide teachers of English at ULIS, VNUH, especially those who are involved in teaching the reading skill, descriptive information on how a large number of their students practice extensive reading. The researcher hopes this study can draw the teachers as well as policy-makers’ attention to some areas of the students’ practice that needs additional instruction or care, such as their reading frequency, their choice of materials, and their tendency to use some strategies more than others, their motives for reading, and their still limited awareness of the benefits of extensive reading. These pieces of information can help the teachers and policy-makers make more informed decision regarding the syllabus of reading courses and courses that involve reading, or even the specific contents of reading lessons as well as the form of assessment to be used with their students. Furthermore, the researcher also hopes this study can to some extent raise the awareness of students of their own practice and perception of extensive reading. After all, it is the students that play the most decisive role in their success with extensive reading in particular and reading in general. 4. Scope of the study Firstly, all students from fast-track and “cử tuyển” classes as well as those in the translation classes were excluded from this study. This decision was made based on the ground that there might be some differences in the syllabuses used for students of different programmes. Moreover, the study -5-
    • focused on second-year students only. In other words, the researcher only studied second-year mainstream English teacher trainees at ULIS, VNUH. Secondly, the aim of the researcher was to describe the students’ practice of extensive reading in terms of reading materials, amounts, strategies, reading purpose, difficulties, and the students’ perception of the benefits of ER. Thus, the examination and discussion of the relation between these factors of ER would not be found in this study. As a result, the students’ reading achievement were not be studied either. Lastly, the researcher only took into account the students’ perception of their own practice. Thus, the data to serve the study were in the form of students’ self-report. No people from other perspectives such as teachers and parents of the students were involved in the current study. 5. Methods of the study With “triangulation” method, the study was divided into two distinct phases. In phase one, 110 second-year English majors from six mainstream teacher training classes, accounting for 40% of the population were selected through convenient sampling procedure. First the researcher prepared the questionnaires, which combined the items designed by the researcher and items adapted from the works of three other researchers, then had it piloted on two students. After that, the researchers asked the selected participants to do the questionnaires by giving each of the 42 items an appropriate point in the 5-point Likert scale. The quantitative data from these questionnaires were calculated with regard to the items’ frequency, mean, median, and mode, in order to answer the first three research questions regarding the participants’ reading amounts, materials, and strategies. -6-
    • In phase two of the study, the researcher used in-depth semi- structured interviews to seek answers to the last three research questions of the participants’ reading purpose, difficulties, and perception of the benefits of extensive reading. Five participants were selected based on their different levels of strategy usage, which was revealed in the questionnaire results. All five interviews were conducted through mobile phones, which were recorded and transcribed for later analyses with the participants’ permission. This enabled the researcher to compare and contrast the answers as well as to find emergent patterns among them. Finally the results from both phases were put together to present a picture of the students’ practice of extensive reading. 6. Overview of the rest of the paper The rest of this research paper contains four more chapters as follows: In chapter two (Literature review) the researcher discusses the literature on extensive reading, including the key terms together with the review of related studies. In chapter three (Methodology) the researcher justifies and describes the methodology of the study with full details. In chapter four (Results and discussion), the researcher both presents and analyzes the results of the study. In the last chapter, chapter five (Conclusion), the researcher summarizes the major findings, suggests some pedagogical implications from those findings, acknowledges the limitations of the study and elaborates on its contributions. -7-
    • CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW This chapter offers a review of the literature related to extensive reading and three important variables involved in extensive reading, namely reading materials, reading amount, and reading strategies. In each section, the definition or explanation of the key terms is presented together with the studies both worldwide and in Vietnam related to the issue. 1. Extensive reading 1.1 Definition of extensive reading Reading, as defined by Richards and Schmidt (2002, p.454), is “perceiving a written text in order to understand its content.” The specific study of reading emerged from psychologists’ study of perception in the late 1870s (Morrow & Tracey, 2002, p.40). Since then, how reading is viewed and studied has undergone numerous changes due to the development of a number of theories and approaches. One of the most popular and comprehensive among these is constructivism, which, as Morrow and Tracey (2002) summarized, views the reading process as “one in which the reader constructs his or her own messages while reading.” Frank Smith and Stephen Krashen can be considered two typical constructivists. Smith’s concise description of the learning to read process “children learn to read by reading” (2004, p.169) and Krashen’s famous “comprehensible input” theory have been widely cited to support the underlying philosophy of a new, progressive approach to reading: Extensive reading. Though researchers and educators have not agreed on one and the same definition of extensive reading (ER), most of them share the view of extensive reading as reading for large quantities of a wide variety of -8-
    • materials with focus on the meaning rather than the language of the text. Many of them (Jacobs et al., 1999, Day and Bamford, 2002; and Quach, 2007) have also insisted that ER materials be selected by the readers and ER be done individually. However, differences in definitions are seen when it comes to the purpose of extensive reading. According to Richards and Schmidt (2002), “extensive reading means reading in quantity and in order to gain a general understanding of what is read” (p.193). More specifically, Jacobs et al. (1999) defined extensive reading as involving “the independent reading of a large quantity of material for information or pleasure. The prime focus of ER is on the meaning of what is being read rather than on the language.” Unlike Jacobs et al., Quach (2007) narrowed the purpose of ER to reading for pleasure only. This is not always the case with real-world reading, in which reading in a large amount also serves other purposes like getting information, doing research, or learning a foreign language. Regarding the last purpose, Carrell and Carson (1997) citeed Day and Bamford’s argument that “in foreign language pedagogical contexts, extensive reading is also a way of teaching reading and the foreign language itself” (p.51). Those afore-mentioned definitions of ER are consistent with Day and Bamford’s (2002) suggested “top ten principles for teaching extensive reading.” The list of ten principles includes: (1) The reading material is easy. (2) A variety of reading material on a wide range of topics must be available. (3) Learners choose what they want to read. (4) Learners read as much as possible. (5) The purpose of reading is usually related to pleasure, information and general understanding. (6) Reading is its own reward. -9-
    • (7) Reading speed is usually faster rather than slower. (8) Reading is individual and silent. (9) Teachers orient and guide their students. (10) The teacher is a role model of a reader. (Day & Bamford, 2002, p137-140) In this list the authors have addressed five important issues in ER, namely reading materials, reading amount, reading purpose, reading speed, and the role of the reader and the language teacher. However, not all the principles regarding these issues can always be followed, considering situations that are less than ideal, for example when there is a limited resource of reading materials or when there isn’t enough teacher preparation. Adapting from the above definitions, in the scope of the current study the researcher would like to view ER as reading a large amount of a wide variety of self-selected materials, with focus on meaning rather than language, and in order not only to get pleasure but also to gain information and to acquire a foreign language. 1.2 Extensive reading and intensive reading The discussion of extensive reading often requires some attention to intensive reading as well, since the former are believed to help fix a number of problems encountered during the practice of the latter, and the two of them are sometimes held in opposition. Nuttall described intensive reading in a language class as follow: Intensive reading involves approaching the text under the close guidance of the teacher, or under the guidance of a task which forces the student to pay great attention to the text. The aim of intensive reading is to arrive at a profound and detailed understanding of the text: not only of what it means, but also of how the meaning is produced. The “how” is as important as the - 10 -
    • “what”, for the intensive reading lesson is intended primarily to train students in reading strategies. (Cited in Carrell and Carson,1997, p52) In Nuttall’s above description, the role of teacher’s guidance and the attention paid to the language elements of the reading text as well as the goal of the reading lesson are rather bold. These are of the most significant differences between intensive and extensive reading. Meanwhile, in Day and Bamford’s (1997, para.2) description of intensive reading, they focused on the length of texts and what was covered in a reading lesson: Intensive reading often refers to the careful reading (or translation) of shorter, more difficult foreign language texts with the goal of complete and detailed understanding. Intensive reading is also associated with the teaching of reading in terms of its component skills. Texts are studied intensively in order to introduce and practice reading skills such as distinguishing the main idea of a text from the detail, finding pronoun referents, or guessing the meaning of unknown words. The authors also referred to Welch’s (1997, para.1) table, which concisely summarizes the differences between intensive and extensive reading: Extensive READING Intensive General understanding and PURPOSE Language study enjoyment Often difficult Easy (graded readers) LEVEL (material for native speakers) A lot AMOUNT Not much Fast and fluently SPEED Slow Table 1: The differences between intensive and extensive reading - 11 -
    • To make the distinction clearer, Quach (2007) pointed out six negative features of intensive reading in comparison with extensive reading. Firstly, intensive reading forces readers at different levels of proficiency to read the same materials chosen, not by the readers themselves, but by the teacher. Secondly, as the result of the materials being chosen by teachers, intensive reading materials fail to meet the readers’ varied interest. Thirdly, not much learning time is actually spent on reading and longer texts “are liable to get forgotten.” Fourthly, intensive reading is reading for accuracy, which may lead to the learners’ negative impression that reading is test- oriented. Next, “learners are assumed to interact more with the teacher than with the text.” Lastly, reading speed may be slow. Such a distinction may be helpful in clearing the confusion between the two approaches and highlight the benefits of extensive reading. However, it may also lead to the belief that intensive and extensive reading are opposing approaches toward reading. In fact, as Nuttall (cited in Carrell & Carson,1997) and Jacobs et al. (1999) noted, intensive and extensive reading complement each other as they serve different purposes. 1.3 Benefits of extensive reading Extensive reading has been proved to have a large number of benefits to different aspects of learning. On calling for the integration of ER in L2 language programs, Grabe (1995), as cited in Carrell & Carson (1997, p.50), reviewed eight benefits of ER on learners’ reading. To be specific, ER helps readers develop automatic word recognition, a large recognition vocabulary, general background knowledge, and reading proficiency. It also has positive effects on readers’ motivation to read, their learning and using of strategies, their ability to “read to learn”, and their continuous learning on their own when instruction is absent. - 12 -
    • Grabe’s list agrees with Nation’s (1997) analyses of the language learning benefits of ER. Regarding language learning in general, ER allows the readers to learn at their own level of proficiency, follow their own interest, and learn even outside classroom. Regarding the learner’s language proficiency in particular, not only the learners’ knowledge of the target language (vocabulary and grammar) but also their communicative skills (listening, reading, speaking, writing) benefit from ER. This is confirmed through the results of the “book-flood” studies reviewed by Elley (1991) and other studies conducted by Elley & Mangubhai (1981) as cited in Nation (1997). A large number of studies with different samples, different methods and in different regions both worldwide and in Vietnam have provided consistent results, proving such positive effects of ER on language learning, especially on reading. Among them are studies done by Krashen & Mason (1997), Jacobs et al. (1999 and 2001), Quach (2007), and Hoang (2007). Krashen & Mason’s paper (1997) presented three different experiments on Japanese college students who were learning English as a foreign language (EFL). All the three experiments showed that students engaging in ER made much more significant gains than those traditionally taught. In 2001 Jacobs et al.’s ER program for remedial reading students in a Philippines secondary school had similar results. For six months, two groups of these low achievers had the same 40 minutes of English instruction and a remedial reading class everyday. In the remedial class, however, the control group were treated with traditional methods, focusing on intensive reading and phonics. The other group took part in extensive reading with self-selected materials and post-reading activities. At the end, through two reading tests, the extensive reading group showed greater - 13 -
    • improvement. Prior to that project, Jacobs and his colleagues also carried out a study on the effects of ER on older language learners. Forty-nine senior Vietnamese government officials took a two-month English course in Singapore, including an ER program and other subjects on English for International Communication. The study employed a pre and post reading test, a book record form, and a questionnaire as instruments to measure the participants’ progress in reading and their opinion of ER. Reliable data revealed that even adult EFL learners, like younger ones, benefit from ER both cognitively and affectively. A summary of international research on the benefits of extensive reading can be found in Day’s article (“The benefits of extensive reading (ER)” n.d.) as follows: - 14 -
    • Table 2: Summary of international research on ER Two other studies on Vietnamese EFL learners have also been carried out at college level. One of these by Quach (2007) showed the positive effects of an ER program on the reading proficiency of first year English majors at ULIS – VNU through engagement in graded readers. The other by Hoang (2007) focused on third year students for two consecutive academic years, regarding the effects of ER on their reading proficiency, the problems they encountered during the program and some solutions to these problems from the perspective of the students. Using interviews and - 15 -
    • questionnaires, the study showed that students had positive feedback on the ER program. All those studies reviewed in this section in general and those on Vietnamese learners in particular contribute to a closer look at the benefits of extensive reading on learners of English as a foreign language. The researcher hence can draw a framework for the benefits of ER as follows: • For readers’ language skills (especially reading and writing) • For readers’ knowledge of language components (mostly vocabulary and grammar) • For readers’ background knowledge • For readers’ motivation in reading and learning. However, the extensive reading done by students in the above studies may not always resemble students’ actual practice of ER. In an ER program, students’ practice is carefully planned and instructed so that the effects of ER can be well demonstrated. In real world, however, whether such superior effects of ER are realized depend to a great extent on how the students themselves actually practice ER. Thus, an account of students’ actual practice of ER is always needed. This is especially true in the context of Vietnam where ER may be an unfamiliar term to many. 2. Reading materials 2.1 Graded readers Richards and Schmidt (2002, p.230) defined graded readers as A text written for children learning their mother tongue, or for second or foreign language learners, in which the language content is based on a language grading scheme. A graded reader may use a restricted vocabulary or a set of grammatical structures. - 16 -
    • Currently there are a wide variety of graded readers series available worldwide, like the Oxford Bookworms by Oxford University Press, Penguin Graded Readers by Longman, or Cambridge English Readers by Cambridge, just to name some of them. As observed by Nation (2005, p.13), although “the levels in these series are not identical with each other in number of levels, the amount of vocabulary at each level, or the vocabulary lists on which they are based”, they still share a lot of the vocabulary covered. Thus, “it is not important to stick to only one series of graded readers.” To many language teachers and learners, graded readers are an attractive option for several reasons. Graded readers not only offer controlled, systematic, and comprehensive development of vocabulary and grammar, they also cater to the different interests and levels of learners. In Waring’s words (1997, para.4), graded readers are beneficial to the learners’ “building reading speed, lexical speed access, reading fluency, and the ability when reading to move from working with words to working with ideas.” However, there exist some objections to graded readers as well. As Nation (2005, p.17) noted, some teachers and researchers see graded readers as “being unauthentic, watered-down versions of richer original texts” and “vocabulary simplification is also seen to result in more complicated grammar.” These concerns over graded readers should also be considered when choice of the use of graded readers is made. Regarding the current context of English language learning in Vietnam, graded readers, however beneficial, are not widely used by foreign language teachers and learners mostly due to the availability of these readers and partly due to extensive reading being rather new. Fortunately, extensive reading is not all about graded readers. While the - 17 -
    • current study, which seeks to know what types of materials students at ULIS – VNU use for their extensive reading, still considers graded readers as a possibility, it focuses on other types of materials, generally classified as “unsimplified texts”. 2.2 Unsimplified texts Simply put, unsimplified texts include texts written for native speakers who reads for pleasure and information rather than in order to learn a foreign language. The most popular sources of unsimplified texts include articles from newspapers and magazines, and unabridged fictions. These can be considered authentic materials – materials that were not originally developed for pedagogical purposes (Richards & Schmidt, 2002, p.42). The major benefits of unsimplified texts lie in the opportunity for the learners to get exposed to “realistic and natural examples of language use” (previously cited authors). Besides, these same authors also suggested that “native speaker materials can be motivating for learners whose reading ability approaches native competency”. As regards newspaper and magazines in particular, James & Lange (1974, p1-2) elaborated on three types of materials taken from these texts that can be used for language learning: “(1) technical information, consisting of headlines, column headings, tables of contents; (2) short materials, comprising advertisements, want ads, weather reports, and other short items; (3) long articles, including full feature stories, fiction, comic strips, editorials.” The authors suggested that all these materials can be used for “intensive, extensive, or supplementary reading purposes.” Besides, these materials can meet the requirement for successful extensive reading that most educators and researchers would agree on: large quantity and wide range of topics. However, for those readers whose competency of the target language is not high, authentic reading materials can cause some frustration and - 18 -
    • discourage the readers due to the large number of new, or low-frequency words as well as the wide background knowledge required for comprehension of these texts. In his article in 2005, Nation drew a table to compare the simplified and original versions of Dracula as illustrations of the differences between simplified and unsimplified texts. Simplified Original Dracula version version 161,425 Length of the books 7,957 words words Percentage coverage by the first 2000 words 98,6% 92,8% of English plus proper nouns Total word families 556 5,640 Number of word families not in the first 2000 19 3,038 occurring only once in the book Table 3: Comparison of simplified and original versions of Dracula (Nation, 2005, p18) The table shows that the unsimplified book presents a much heavier vocabulary load than the graded reader and may cause difficulty of comprehension to a reader with limited vocabulary because of the large number of total word families and the length of the work as well as the far larger number of low-frequency words. To partly compensate for this, the readers have a wealth of reading strategies to make use of when dealing with texts. Due to the importance of this issue, a separate section later in this chapter will be devoted to it. In addition to newspaper and magazines articles and fictions, online texts (technically referred to as “hypertext”) also offer a good source of reading materials. This source of materials may be the most accessible to EFL students in Vietnam, thanks to their comparatively low price, the up- - 19 -
    • to-date and varied information, as well as the convenience in searching for and classification of information (Hoang, 2007). The students at ULIS are encouraged to “do extensive searching and reading of current materials from library books, newspapers, magazines, and websites.” (Course guide for Intensive written communication course) 3. Reading amount 3.1 Definition of reading amount The amount of reading is one of the most critical factors in extensive reading, as ER is based on the theory of comprehensible input proposed by Krashen (2002) who stressed that large amounts of language input within a learners’ comprehension ability are required if that learner is to make progress in a new language. Despite the importance of reading amount, researchers and teachers have not reached an agreement in how much reading is enough. With respect to vocabulary development, according to Nation (1997), how much ER learners should do depends on two factors, namely the “frequency level of the learners’ vocabulary” and “the length of time that the memory of a meeting with a word is retained.” After considering both these factors, he suggests that “learners need to read many books in order to gain control of the high frequency words of English,” and, in another article on the same topic, that [The] quantity of input needs to be close to 500,000 running words per year, which is equivalent to twenty-five graded readers a year, or one and a half substantial first year university text books, or six unsimplified novels. This needs to continue over several years. (Nation, 2005, p10) Taking the Oxford Bookworms series as illustrations, he and Wang (as cited in Nation, 2005, p.16) reached six conclusions regarding vocabulary development with graded readers: - 20 -
    • (1) Learners should read at least one graded reader every week, no matter what level they are reading at. (2) Learners should read five books at a level before moving to books at the next level. (3) Learners should read more books at the later levels than the earlier. (4) Learners should read at least 15-20 readers in a year. (5) Learners may need to directly study the new vocabulary at the earlier levels or at least make use of a dictionary when starting to read books at a particular level. (6) Learners should work their way through the levels of graded readers as the later levels provide excellent conditions for establishing the vocabulary of the earlier levels. (Nation, 2005, p16-17) However, these detailed guidelines are, as the author reminds in his writing, concerning vocabulary and graded readers only. Though vocabulary development is one significant aim of ER done by ESL and EFL learners, there are the development of language skills, especially reading, and motivational factors to consider as well. A comprehensive and concise description of reading amount can be found in Guthrie et al.’s (1999) paper, where they used the term “reading amount” to “refer to the frequency and time spent reading a range of topics for various purposes.” The authors further drew attention to the strong similarity between reading amount and print exposure, independent reading, and time spent reading – the constructs that are considered by various researchers. From this point on in the current study, Guthrie’s above definition will be employed whenever the term “reading amount” is mentioned. - 21 -
    • 3.2 Factors affecting reading amount So far, at least two major factors have been identified to affect a learner’s reading amount. One is reading motivation, studied by Guthrie et al. (1999), and the other is cognitive ability in general and reading ability in particular as considered in Malouff & Schutte’s (2004) paper. In Guthrie et al.’s (1999) study of primary and high school students’ practice of ER, the researchers found out that motivation for reading was the strongest predictor of these students’ reading amount when other major variables such as past achievement in reading, prior knowledge, and self- efficacy had been considered carefully. Moreover, two types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic, were found to still significantly predict reading amount when they were taken separately. The conclusions regarding both groups of participants were consistent with other researchers’ findings such as Baker & Wigfield and Wigfield & Guthrie (both cited in Guthrie et al., 1999, p.234). In the latter study, results showed that students in the top third of the reading motivation scale devoted about 20 minutes more to reading outside of school than their peers who ranked in the bottom third of the scale. Furthermore, researchers have not only examined whether there is a correlation between motivation and amount, they have also studied the extent to which this correlation works. It has been documented that reading motivation “accounted for 7% of the variance in growth of reading amount” when indicated by the participants’ reading diaries, and 15% when calculated from the questionnaire data (Guthrie et al., 1999, p.235). In addition to motivation, cognitive ability, including reading ability, have been referred to when researchers explain people’s reading amount. Some of these researchers are McQuillan & Au, 2001; Smith, 1991; Stanovich, 2000; Walberg and Tsai, 1983, as cited in Malouff & Schutte (2004, p.274). However, the relationship between reading amount and - 22 -
    • reading ability is a complicated and reciprocal one. Thus, it will be discussed with more details together with the relationship between reading amount and other variables in the following section about the effects of reading amount. 3.3 Effects of reading amount A lot of attention has been devoted to reading amount and its correlation with other factors such as learners’ text comprehension and performance in reading test, their development of vocabulary and knowledge of grammar, and their writing proficiency. In the study cited in the previous section, Guthrie et al. reviewed a large body of research on how reading amount predicts text comprehension of primary students or older. Text comprehension is well documented to be significantly affected by reading amount done by students both within school and out of school. To be specific, Cipielewski & Stanovich (1992, cited in Guthrie et al., 1999, p.233) found that reading amount “accounted for 11% of text comprehension in fifth graders” while Juel (1988) confirmed that “higher achieving students cover more content than lower achievers” and that “in first grade good readers encountered 80% more words in their reading instruction than did poor readers.” This number rises to 220% with forth graders (Guthrie et al., 1999, p.233). Guthrie et al. conducted two studies of their own (1999) to further confirm these results. Focusing on the text comprehension and reading amount of students at grade 3 &5 and grade 8 &10, measured by various reading tests and questionnaires, both studies showed consistent results between them and with other studies. However, it should be noted that all the studies reviewed by Guthrie et al. and their own studies mostly targeted young learners (grade 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 10) who were native speakers of English. Thus, though these studies - 23 -
    • present a detailed view of how reading amount predicts and is predicted by various factors, their results cannot be readily applied to the ESL classroom, especially at college level or older. Regarding the effects of reading amount on older learners of English as a foreign language, the ER program reported by Jacobs et al. (1999) can provide useful information. As reviewed in this paper (Jacobs et al., 1999, p.41), the amount of reading was found in Krashen et al. (1997) to be a significant indicator of TOEFL scores of EFL learners in the US. Still with EFL learners in the US, Krashen et al. (1996) reported that “amount of L2 reading was also a reliable predictor of students’ ability to translate and to perform a grammaticality judgement task.” Moreover, Jonopoulos (1986, cited in Jacobs et al., 1999, p.41) evaluated students’ writing and found a “significant correlation between L2 reading and L2 writing proficiency” to support the view that ER is beneficial to all aspects of language proficiency. Similar to the results of other studies that they have reviewed, Jacobs et al.’s examination of the ER program on a group of senior Vietnamese EFL learners in Singapore revealed that among many variables considered, only factors related to reading amount can significantly predict the participants’ reading achievement after the program. Up to date not much research on Vietnamese EFL learners has been done in Vietnam. The only study focusing on reading amount to be found in Vietnam is that by Quach (2007). As mentioned somewhere in the previous sections, Quach’s study centers first year students with the use of graded readers only, and the results are encouraging to researchers and teachers. 4. Reading strategies Tankersley (2003, p.90) identified three factors that the success of reading comprehension depends on. They are the readers’ “command of the - 24 -
    • linguistic structures of the text,” their ability to exercise “metacognitive control over the content being read,” and “adequate background in the content and vocabulary being presented.” This section focuses on one of these important factors: the readers’ strategies when dealing with the text. 4.1 Definition of strategies Richards & Schmidt’s (2002) defined “learning strategy” as “the ways in which learners attempt to work out the meanings and uses of words, grammatical rules, and other aspects of the language they are learning” (p.301). To be more specific, in second language learning, strategies are noted to be “intentional or potentially intentional”. This definition seems to put certain emphasis on comprehension strategies in particular. Sharing the same idea of strategies being used intentionally, Tovani (2000, p.5) considered “reading strategy” as “an intentional plan that readers use to help themselves make sense of their reading.” Her definition thus shows an even stronger emphasis on comprehension. Kerr et al. (2004) employed another definition of reading strategies proposed by Alexander & Jetton (2000, cited in Kerr et al., 2004, p.67), which stated that reading strategies are “procedural, purposeful, effortful, willful, essential, and facilitative in nature.” From this definition, several features of reading strategies are highlighted: (1) the use of strategies is a process; (2) the reader use strategies consciously; and (3) strategies can aid the reading process. Afflerbach et al. (2008) also called for a distinction between reading skills and reading strategies. After tracing back the origin of the use of both terms in the literature of language research, the authors suggested a distinction between the two terms based on the extent to which the readers are conscious of their use of either of these. Thus, reading skills are “automatic actions that result in decoding and comprehension with speed, efficiency, and fluency and usually occur without awareness of the - 25 -
    • components or control involved” while reading strategies are “deliberate, goal-directed attempts to control and modify the reader’s efforts to decode text, understand words, and construct meanings of text” (Afflerbach et al., 2008, p.368). It should be noted that reading strategies can be transferred into reading skills once the readers master the strategies and can use it automatically or almost automatically with little effort and consciousness. Thus, this distinction from Afflerbach et al. is only relative. Moreover, not all researchers agree that strategies are used consciously. Two examples of researchers who maintained that strategies can be used either consciously or unconsciously are Barnett (1988) and Davies (1995) (cited in Yang, 2006, p.316). Davies defined strategy as “a physical or mental used consciously or unconsciously with the intention of facilitating text comprehension and / or learning.” In the current study, the researcher would like to adopt the view that strategies can be either consciously or unconsciously used by the readers in order to facilitate their reading process. 4.2 Classification of strategies How strategies are grouped varies from researcher to researcher due to the differences in their definitions. Richards & Schmidt (2002, p.301) present four groups of learning strategies: cognitive strategies, metacognitive strategies, social strategies, and resource management strategies. These categorization of strategies may be too general considering that reading strategies are the main concern of the current study. More specifically than Richards & Schmidt, Yang (2006) focuses on the cognitive and metacognitive strategies only. According to the author, cognitive strategies are used to solve problems “within the text” while metacognitive ones are used “beyond the text” to monitor the cognitive process. Thus the former is referred to by the author as “reading strategies” - 26 -
    • and the latter “comprehension monitoring strategies” (Yang, 2006, p.313). However, there is a big overlap between these two groups. The author has noted the same strategies classified as “cognitive” by some researchers and as “metacognitive” by others. Thus, this way of classifying strategies cannot satisfactorily describe what strategies are used by the readers. Furthermore, the types of strategies used do not remain the same as the readers gain in their proficiency of English. The following graph offered by Hamp-Lyons (1983) describes the change in use of process strategies over time, from beginning to advanced reader: (Hamp-Lyons, 1983, p308) Figure 1: Change in use of process strategies over time As seen in the graph, low-level readers depend on strategies in the “graphophonemic system” called “mechanical strategies” while the skilled readers depend less on these and more on strategies of “syntactic and semantic systems” or “cognitive strategies.” Another way of classifying strategies is offered by Taraban et al. (2004). The author presents an inventory to measure students’ use of strategies, which are either “analytic” (“relate to cognitions aimed at reading comprehension” – Taraban et al., 2004, p.74) and “pragmatic” (“relate to behaviours aimed at studying and academic performance”) Analytic strategies include evaluating, anticipating, drawing on prior knowledge, considering, revising, and the like. Pragmatic strategies are - 27 -
    • related to taking notes, highlighting, writing in the margin, underlining, reading the whole material more than once, and re-reading. Mokhtari & Sheorey’s (2002) classification of reading strategies bears a lot of similarities with Taraban et al.’s. These two authors’ group of “support strategies” corresponds to the pragmatic strategies in Taraban et al.’s. However, Mokhtari & Sheorey offer two more groups: global reading strategies and problem solving strategies, which makes their classification more specific and comprehensive than Taraban et al.’s group of analytic strategies. Detailed description of all the three groups is as follows: - Global Reading Strategies (GLOB) are those intentional, carefully planned techniques by which learners monitor or manage their reading, such as having a purpose in mind, previewing the text as to its length and organization, or using typographical aids and tables and figures (13 items) - Problem Solving Strategies (PROB) are the actions and procedures that readers use while working directly with the text. These are localized, focused techniques used when problems develop in understanding textual information; examples include adjusting one’s speed of reading when the material becomes difficult or easy, guessing the meaning of unknown words, […] (8 items) - Support Strategies (SUP) are basic support mechanisms intended to aid the reader in comprehending the text such as using a dictionary, taking notes, underlining, […] (9 items) (Mokhtari & Sheorey, 2002, p.4) Of all those ways of classifying strategies so far reviewed, only this classification of strategies explicitly aims at learners of English as a foreign or second language. 4.3 Strategies and the good readers To date there has not been a full list of strategies used by readers. However, many researchers have attempted to describe the use of strategies - 28 -
    • by different groups of readers to see the effects of strategy use on reading performance. In the first language of English, it has been observed and well documented that “good readers are very reliable, i.e. they have habitual reading strategies and consistently use them” (Hamp-Lyons, 1983, p.308). Duke and Pearson (2002, cited in Tankersley, 2003, p.118) give six strategies that are used by higher-level readers, namely: prediction, activation of prior knowledge; using think-aloud strategies to monitor comprehension; using text structures; using and constructing visual models; summarizing; and questioning and answering questions during reading. Tovani (2000) makes a different list of strategies used by successful readers: • They use existing knowledge to make sense of new information. • They ask questions about the text before, during, and after reading. • They draw inferences from the text. • They monitor their comprehension. • They use “fix-up” strategies when meaning breaks down. • They determine what is important. • They synthesize information to create new thinking. (Tovani, 2000, p17) Not only in L1 but in L2 research, reading strategies receive considerable attention. Results from research done by Hosenfeld 1977; Hauptman 1979; Devine 1984, Knight, Padron & Waxman 1985; Block 1986 and many other researchers (cited in Carrel & Carson, 1997, p.48) confirm the important role of strategies in L2 reading success. Mokhtari & Sheorey (2002, p.3) note that “good L2 readers can compensate for a lack of English proficiency by increasing awareness of reading strategies and - 29 -
    • learning how to use these strategies while reading to enhance comprehension.” In short, despite the differences in how strategies are defined, and classified, and whatever strategies different successful readers use are listed by different researchers, it is generally agreed that these readers not only “know what strategies to use, but also when, why, and how to use these strategies appropriately and effectively.” (Mokhtari & Sheorey 2002, p.3) Chapter summary In this chapter, the researcher has attempted to review the literature related to extensive reading, namely its definition, its relation with intensive reading and the many benefits that it brings about. Then the researcher moves on to discuss other important variables involved in research about extensive reading, i.e. reading materials, reading amount, and reading strategies as well as their relation with the practice of extensive reading. A lot of studies have been conducted worldwide. However, as extensive reading is rather new in Vietnam, not much research has been done into this area, which justifies more research to gain insight into the practice of ER in the context of Vietnam, particularly at ULIS, VNUH. - 30 -
    • CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY This chapter is devoted to present the settings and the methodology of the current research, including the participants, the data collection instruments and procedure, and data analysis in different phases. 1. Settings of the study 1.1 The current teaching and learning of reading skill at English Department, ULIS, VNUH. According to the current curriculum applied to students at English department, ULIS, VNUH, the compulsory English written communication courses, including reading and writing skills, accounted for 18 credits among the total 40 credits for English language skills throughout the first three years of education. Regarding the second year in particular, students gain six more credits on finishing the courses of written communication III and IV. Besides, reading is also integrated in one of the optional courses titled “Intensive written communication” 1 , which earns the sophomores two more credits. The role of reading can be seen in different aspects of these courses for second-year English students. With respect to the course objectives, both the courses Written communication III and IV explicitly aim at developing students’ specific reading skills like skimming and scanning, inferring, or paraphrasing as well as more general skills like “critical reading” and “evaluating texts” (Course guide for Written communication III and IV, 2008, p.2). At the same time the objectives of the Intensive written communication course are, among many, to “promote extensive and critical reading” as well as to “create reading community in which reading sources and materials are  The Vietnamese name of the course is “Tăng cường diễn đạt nói tiếng Anh” - 31 -
    • exchanged and shared” (Course guide for Intensive written communication course, 2008, p.2). These objectives are realized through the contents and assessment forms of the courses. The course book for Written communication III and IV – Reading II – provides students with not only relative short texts for the development of basic skills of reading but also long texts to “increase students’ reading speed” and “improve their reading comprehension.” Moreover, every week, students have to read extensively in order to participate in the “i-knowledge” activity in which they share and present the new information they have gained. The i-knowledge activity accounts for 10% of their final score, together with 15% from a mini reading test, another 15% from two reflection entries of their self-selected reading texts, and 60% from the final reading test (Course guide for Written communication IV, 2008). In addition to the reading done in Written communication courses, in Intensive written communication, the sophomores also engage in “Forum”, a speaking activity in every two weeks that requires the students to read extensively on a topic and synthesize the materials they read to form their own ideas in the discussion. Their analysis and synthesis of the materials are assessed through “the richness and persuasiveness of ideas with careful acknowledgement of the information source”, which makes up part of 30% of their final scores (Course guide for Intensive written communication, 2008). 1.2 The place of English reading in other courses taught in English Department, ULIS, VNUH. Besides courses to develop the four English language skills, students at English Department, ULIS, VNUH also learn other courses that use English as the primary tool for communication. As regards the sophomores in particular, this semester (semester IV) they learn the first of these courses, - 32 -
    • which is British Studies. Later on in the third and forth years, students learn many more compulsory courses in English (e.g. English Grammar, Phonetics and Phonology, Semantics, English Language Teaching Methodology (I, II, III), and the like). In all of these courses, reading, especially extensive reading skill, plays a crucial role. Students have to read textbooks written in English and listen to lectures delivered in English too. A unit in the course British Studies is a good example. In preparation for the unit on British politics, the students have to read four different chapters in the text book, which spread to at least 20 pages. This can be considered a relatively large amount of reading in a few days not free from assignments of other courses, which means the students have no choice but read extensively. Besides the text books, other learning activities in these courses in English like presentation or essay writing also require the students to read large number of materials, then to analyze and synthesize them. In short, the more the students progress through their four academic years at the university, the more extensive reading they need to engage in. 2. Design of the study The participants in this study were all second-year English students at ULIS, VNUH. Generally the sophomores who major in English are divided into two groups regarding the content they are studying at the university: the teacher training and the translation group. Regarding the form of their training, the students fall into three groups: the fast track, the mainstream, and the ethnic minority group. Considering the possible differences in the syllabus for these groups, all the students from the fast track, the ethnic minority as well as the translation classes were excluded from the current study. In other words, the study only involved the second-year English majors from mainstream teacher training classes. - 33 -
    • The study was divided into two phases. In phase one the researcher aimed at a general description of the participants’ practice of extensive reading. In phase two, the researcher moved into closer investigation of certain cases that were representative of sub-groups of participants identified in the first phase. Therefore, two different instruments were used in the two phases to collect the needed data in order to answer different research questions. In phase one, the researcher used survey questionnaires with 110 participants to seek answers to the first three research questions. In phase two, the researcher conducted in-depth interviews with five participants selected based on the questionnaire results to answer the last three questions. 3. Phase one The aims of this phase were to answer the following research questions: 1) What are the extensive reading amounts done by second-year mainstream English teacher trainees at ULIS, VNUH? 2) What are the materials for extensive reading selected by those students? 3) What strategies are used by those students when they do extensive reading? 3.1 Sampling There were in total 110 students from six classes to participate in this phase of the study. The researcher employed the convenient sampling procedure. This means that the findings from the sample cannot be generalized to the whole population. However, the large number of the participants could to some extent compensate for this limitation. - 34 -
    • Due to the differences in class schedule between the students and the researcher herself, it was more convenient for the researcher to contact some classes than others. Among these classes, the researcher contacted two in the first part of the list of classes (07 E2 and 07 E3), two in the middle of the list (07 E6 and 07 E7), and two near the end of the list (07 E11 and 07 E14). In short, six out of fifteen classes were involved in the study. It should be noted that, the total number of students varies from class to class, and not all the students of some classes were present when the researcher contacted them. The specific number of the participants from each class is therefore as follows: Classes Number of participants 07 E2 20 07 E3 20 07 E6 18 07 E7 18 07 E11 16 07 E14 18 Table 4: Participants in phase one All the mentioned 110 students who participated in the questionnaires accounted for roughly two-fifths, or 40%, of the population (six classes out of fifteen classes), which the researcher hoped to be large enough to compensate for the limitations of the convenient sampling procedure. 3.2 Data collection 3.2.1 Justification for the use of survey questionnaires There were certain reasons why the decision to use questionnaires was made. First, questionnaires help to “gather relatively straightforward factual data in response to closed questions” (Gillham 2005, p166) because the items in questionnaires often asks about specific information. Furthermore, as Dornyei (2003, p9) emphatically puts it, questionnaires - 35 -
    • allows the researchers to “collect a huge amount of information in less than an hour”. The large number of respondents means certain patterns of behavior among them, based on which the interpretations and further implications of the results are made, can be revealed. The factual, specific information collected from a large number of respondents in a relatively short period of time makes questionnaires highly suitable for quantitative, statistical analysis. With regard to the objectives of the current study in this first phase, the researcher aimed at presenting an overall description of the practice of extensive reading by as large a sample as possible. Moreover, there was also time constraint as well as other practical factors to be considered. Therefore, the researcher decided that large-scale survey questionnaire was the most suitable tool to realize that objective in this phase. However, the researcher was also aware of some weaknesses of questionnaires such as the “simplicity and superficiality of answers” generated in questionnaires (Dornyei 2003, p.10) and the “fatigue effect”, or tiredness and boredom that influence responses towards the end of the questionnaire. In order to minimize these negative effects of questionnaires, the researcher has attempted to design the questionnaire items carefully and edit its format so that the respondents would feel comfortable while doing the questionnaires. 3.2.2 Description of the questionnaire No specific names of the participants was mentioned throughout the research. However, the questionnaires in particular ask them to provide their nick names and their class, so that when in need of participants for the later phase, the researcher could find the suitable ones and match their answers in the interviews with those in the questionnaires. For no other purpose were the nick names of the participants used in this study. The - 36 -
    • questionnaires are written in Vietnamese in order to avoid any possible misunderstanding due to language barrier as well as to minimize the time the respondents have to spend reading. There are in total 42 items belonging to three parts in the questionnaires that correspond to the first three research questions. Except three open-ended questions, which require the respondents to provide a specific number or words / phrase, all other 39 items ask the respondents to score a statement according to a Likert scale from one to five. Such a Likert scale is believed not only to save space and time but also to enable the respondents to give more specific answers than many other type of closed- end questions commonly used in questionnaires, which increases the accuracy of the interpretation of data. The focus of part A, with questions 1 to 6, is the participants’ reading amounts, corresponding to the first research question. This part contains three Likert scale items and three open-ended questions as mentioned earlier. The three Likert scale items were adapted from the questions 9 to 11 in the questionnaire used by Hoang (2007). These statements like “I read a lot everyday” and “I read a lot but not everyday” concern both the frequency and the amount of the respondents’ reading. The Likert scale used in this particular part offers the respondents five numbers indicating five levels at which they find each statement similar to their own practice. Thus number 1 means “not like me at all”, number 2 “a little like me”, number 3 “fairly like me (50%)”, number 4 “very much like me” and number 5 “absolutely like me”. The three open-ended questions ask about the average length of the texts or books they read and the average amount of time they spent reading. In order to answer these three questions, the respondents only need a specific number or a short phrase / word. - 37 -
    • From questions 7 on to the last question (42), the same scale from 1 to 5 is used. However, the purpose is no longer to estimate the level of similarity between the statements’ contents and the respondents’ practice. The meaning of the scale is now the frequency at which the things mentioned in the statements happen to the respondents. Thus, number 1 means “never”, number 2 means “only occasionally”, number 3 “sometimes (50% of the time)”, number 4 “usually”, and number 5 “always.” This scale is applied to all the other three parts in the questionnaires. Part B with items 7 to 12 is about the respondents’ reading materials, seeking the answers for the second research question. Items 7 and 8 ask about the length of each unit of reading materials (as short as a newspaper / magazine article or as long as a book / novel). Items 9, 10, and 11 ask about the sources from which the participants select their reading materials, namely the Internet, English study books, and the university library respectively. Item 12 offers the participants room to suggest other sources of materials that are not included in the list. Part C, with the largest number of items (30 items from 13 to 42), is devoted to the respondents’ use of strategies while reading. This whole list of thirty strategies were translated and adapted from Mokhtari & Sheorey’s (2002, p10) inventory named “Survey of Reading Strategies” (SORS). There are two major reasons why the SORS inventory was used in the current study. Firstly, there is great similarity between the target participants of the inventory and those in the current study. The inventory was initially designed by Mokhtari & Reichard (2002, cited in Mokhtari & Sheorey, 2002 p 3) to measure “native English speaking students’ awareness and perceived use of reading strategies” (Mokhtari & Sheorey 2002, p.3). Later this was modified into the current SORS to be used with “adolescent and adult students for whom English is a second or foreign - 38 -
    • language” (p4). As the participants in the current study is college students who are learning English as a foreign language, the inventory could be used with them as well. Secondly, the initial version and the later SORS inventory had been field-tested and received confirmation of high reliability. In fact, in 2001 the SORS was actually used on ESL students at two universities in the United States with consistent reliability. At the end of the questionnaire, the researcher adds an optional, open-ended questions to allow the respondents to list any other strategies that they cannot find in the given list. 3.2.3 Procedure of data collection Step 1: Preparation In the preparation step, the questionnaire was formed from the researchers’ adaptation of two other questionnaires as previously explained and the items designed by herself. The extent to which the other two questionnaires should be adapted was considered carefully mainly with regard to the research objectives and the participants. After all the considerations had been made, the SORS inventory was translated into Vietnamese and all the items from this inventory together with three from Hoang’s (2007) questionnaire and the researcher’s nine items were compiled into a single questionnaire. Then the organization of the items in accordance with the first three research questions and the layout of the were decided. Step 2: Revising the questionnaires and selecting participants After piloting the questionnaires with two second-year students as her acquaintances, the researcher made some changes to the wording of some items. For example, item number 8 was “truyện, tiểu thuyết” but later the word “sách” was added to clarify the type of the reading materials - 39 -
    • mentioned. At the same time, the researcher noted down the schedule of the fifteen target classes and select six of them whose schedules didn’t conflict with that of the researcher. Step 3: Administering the questionnaires The questionnaires were administered to six chosen classes at different times. The delivery of the questionnaires to each class was always preceded by the researcher’s asking for permission of the teacher in charge of the class at the administering time as well as of the whole class. The researcher also reminded all the participants of the confidentiality of their profile (nick names and class). On average, the administration of the questionnaires took ten to twelve minutes. Then the process of collecting data from the questionnaires was finished. The researcher did not forget to ask these participants to permit her to contact them again for the later interviews if the need arose. 3.3 Data analysis All the data from questionnaires were entered into the computer and calculated thanks to Microsoft Excel application. The data from the questionnaires were fairly easy to calculate due to their being quantitative by nature. Each items in the questionnaires was treated as a distinct variable. The interpretation of the data from questionnaires was based mainly on the calculation of the frequency, the mean, the median, and the mode, with greater stress on the first two. Data from different parts of the questionnaires were calculated separately to answer different research questions. Particularly in scoring the data from part C of the questionnaires regarding reading strategies, the researcher followed Mokhtari & Sheorey’s suggestion of using Oxford & Burry-Stock’s (1995, cited in Mokhtari & - 40 -
    • Sheorey 2002, p.4) three levels of strategy usage. To be specific, the “high” group had the mean of 3.5 or higher; the “moderate” with mean of 2.5 to 3.4 and “low” group with mean of 2.4 or lower. However, the researcher would like to make this scale more detailed and accurate by specifying that “high” group had the mean of 3.5 or higher, “moderate” group with the mean of 2.5 to less than 3.5, and “low” group with the mean of less than 2.5. The summary of the results and the researcher’s interpretations called for the full use of all tabular, graphical, and statistical presentation. In tabular presentation of data, the researcher drew tables to show different statistics and to make comparison when needed. Meanwhile, the patterns revealed from the data might be presented more clearly with graphs and charts and the comparison or contrast between statistics could be highlighted with these as well. 4. Phase two The research questions to be answered in this phase are different from those in phase 1. To be specific, the three research questions are: 4) What are the purposes of extensive reading of second-year mainstream English teacher trainees at ULIS, VNUH? 5) What are the difficulties those students encounter in their practice of extensive reading? 6) What are the benefits of extensive reading as perceived by those students? 4.1 Sampling As the results from the questionnaires were roughly calculated and the participants fell into three groups of low, moderate, and high usage of - 41 -
    • reading strategies (elaborated later in the chapter of results and discussion), representatives of each group were selected to further join the in-depth interview section. The researcher believed this to be of purposive sampling procedure. To be more specific, one student was from the “low” level of usage, two from the “moderate” level, and two from the “high” level. The total number of interviewees were five. The table below summarizes the profile of the five participants: Latest English total Years of scores Level of Participants Hometown English strategy study Listening - Reading - usage Speaking Writing 9 (since High Anh Bac Giang C B grade 6) (mean = 4.06) 9 (since High Bich Phu Tho B B grade 6) (mean = 3.83) 13 (since Moderate Chi Nam Dinh B B grade 2) (mean = 3.4) 9 (since Moderate Dung Vinh Phuc B B grade 6) (mean = 3.36) 9 (since Low Hanh Thai Binh D C grade 6) (mean = 2.36) Table 5: Profiles of participants in phase two (pseudonym names) For the second-year English majors at ULIS, VNUH, scores of 5.5 or below are at level D; scores of 8.5 or higher level A; scores between 5.5 and 6.9 are at level C, between 7.0 and 8.4 level B. In the above table, most of the interviewees’ English total scores were at level B. Only interviewee E, whose level of strategy usage is “low”, had significantly lower scores than the others. All of them have had many years of English study. - 42 -
    • 4.2 Data collection 4.2.1 Justification for the use of in-depth semi-structured interviews The consideration of the strength of in-depth interviews led the researcher to choose it as the data collection instrument for this second phase. Unlike questionnaires, interviews offer the researcher insight into individual respondents’ behaviour, attitudes, and experiences, thanks to the direct interaction between the interviewer and the interviewee. During interviews, the researcher stands higher chance of clarifying the respondents’ answers, or asking for further explanation, which are hardly possible in questionnaires. What is more, semi-structure interviews in particular give the researcher enough flexibility to deal with unexpected situation during the interviews and at the same time remind her of the key questions that need answering, helping to avoid off-topic discussion. With regard to the current study, in this phase, the researcher aimed at studying closely only five participants. The information needed from these participants required the use of a lot of open-ended questions. All these things considered, the researcher found that the objectives of the study in this phase would be most effectively realized with semi-structure interviews. 4.2.2 Description of the interview schedule The interview schedule employed in this study is a semi-structured one, with two major parts. The aim of the first part is to provide the researcher with general profiles of the interviewees such as their hometown, their years of English study and their latest English total scores. The second part contains four questions. Question 1 asks the respondents about their purposes of extensive reading. Question 2 asks - 43 -
    • them to list the difficulties they encounter when they read extensively. With question 3 the respondents told the researcher about the benefits of extensive reading in their own opinion. The answers of the respondents to each of these three questions often contained more than one idea. Therefore, with each question, the researcher asked the respondents to rank these ideas in order of importance. For example, after respondent A had made a list of difficulties, the researcher asked her to rank them in order of level of difficulty. Then in the last question, the researcher asked the respondents to give an overall remark of their own practice of extensive reading. 4.2.3 Procedure of data collection Step 1: Preparation The data gained from the questionnaires were now entered in the computer. A quick calculation of the data revealed the possible categorization of the participants according to their level of strategy use. Not until this point were the participants in the interviews selected and the schedule for semi-structured interviews was made. At the same time, the recording device was set up to ensure that nothing said by the respondents would be missed. The researcher also contacted the selected participants in person to ask for their consent in helping her with the interviews. Step 2: Conducting the interviews All the interviews were conducted through mobile phone and in Vietnamese. The researcher and the interviewees had met twice before the interviews (first time when the questionnaires were delivered, and second time when the researcher asked for their participation in the interviews). Therefore, the researcher and the interviewees were now fairly acquainted and the conversation through mobile phones had no significant difference from the face-to-face interviews. - 44 -
    • The researcher began each interview by ensuring the respondent of their being anonymous in the current study. Then, the questions were asked and answered in the order specified in the interview schedule. On average, each interview lasted from ten to fifteen minutes. The researcher took as many notes as possible during each interview and the whole conversation was recorded by a device placed close to the researcher’s cell phone. The recording had been permitted by the respondents. 4.3 Data analysis The analysis of the interviews was broken into three smaller steps. Step 1: Transcribing the interviews First all the interviews were transcribed to enable closer, full investigation of the information provided by the respondents. This not only made the examination of data more convenient but also enabled quotations to be made with accuracy. Step 2: Classifying the data First and foremost, the data were classified according to the research questions that they answered. Thus there were three major groups of answers corresponding to the participants’ reading purposes, reading difficulties, and their opinions of the benefits of extensive reading. Step 3: Interpreting the data Within each group of answers, comparisons and contrasts were made for greater understanding of the data. This also allowed the researcher to find emergent sub-groups, or patterns, of answers among the respondents. - 45 -
    • Chapter summary In this chapter, after an overview of the settings of the current study, a detailed look at its methodology has been provided. Throughout the whole chapter, explanations are made whenever needed to guarantee that nothing is left unjustified. The study was divided into two distinct phases. In phase one, up to 110 second-year English teacher trainees from six classes, accounting for 40% of the population were selected through convenient sampling procedure. These students filled in the questionnaires which combined the items designed by the researcher and items adapted from the works of three other researchers. The quantitative data from these questionnaires were calculated with regard to the items’ frequency, mean, median, and mode, in order to answer the first three research questions regarding the participants’ reading amounts, materials, and strategies. In phase two of the study, the researcher used in-depth semi- structured interviews to seek answers to the last three research questions of the participants’ reading purpose, difficulties, and perception of the benefits of extensive reading. Five participants were selected based on the questionnaire results and joined the researcher in interviews through mobile phones, which were recorded and transcribed for later analyses, enabling the researcher to compare and contrast the answers as well as to find emergent patterns among them. The researcher attempted to make full use of different forms to present the results from both phases like tables, graphs and charts, and statistics. - 46 -
    • CHAPTER 4: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION In the current chapter, what the researcher has found from the collected data were summarized according to the research questions that they help answer. The data collected from each of the two phases of the study together with the researcher’s analyses are presented separately. 1. Phase one The data gained from questionnaires in this first phase were to answer the first three research questions regarding the participants’ reading amounts, reading materials and reading strategies. 1.1 Research question 1: Students’ reading amounts. As reviewed in chapter two, reading amounts include frequency of reading, print exposure, and time spent reading. Regarding frequency of reading, all the first three items from the questionnaires had means below 3, which were rather low. The details of scores for the items are as follows: Items Mean Median Mode 1. I read a lot everyday 2.41 2 3 2. I read everyday 2.54 3 3 3. I read a lot but not everyday 2.87 3 3 Table 6: Students’ reading frequency As item 3 received the highest mean, the most common practice among the participants was reading a lot but not frequently. In other words, the students did not read regularly, and for each time of reading they might read a large amount of materials. - 47 -
    • The participants’ amounts of exposure to print were measured through the average length of their reading materials. On average, their reading texts were 2.5 pages long, with 40% of them reading 2 pages and 20% reading 3 pages. However, when it came to reading of longer materials like books, only 73% of the participants (79 out of 110 students) have read some books. The average length of the books they have read was 162 pages long. As regards the time they spent reading, the participants typically spent 75 minutes each time they read, with the most frequent answer (the mode) being 60 minutes. This amount of time is indeed not small. The following tables summarizes the related statistics: Items Mean Median Mode 4. On average, an English text I 2.462 2 2 read is … A4 pages long. 5. On average, an English book I 162 200 200 read is … pages long. 6. On average, how much time do you spend each time you read? (in 75 60 60 minutes) Table 7: Students’ exposure to print and time spent reading In short, the participants’ answers to the first six questionnaire items revealed that they read a lot of short texts but not frequently, and spent a significant amount of time each time they read. 1.2 Research question 2: Students’ reading materials The participants’ reading materials were examined according to two criteria: the length of each unit of reading, and the authenticity of the materials. - 48 -
    • Items Mean Median Mode 7. Newspaper / magazine articles 2.80 3 3 8. Books, fictions 2.46 2 2 9. Texts from the Internet 3.68 4 4 10. Texts from English study books 3.39 3 4 11. Materials in the library 2.30 2 2 Table 8: Students’ reading materials The comparison between scores for items 7 and 8 reveals that the students preferred to read short texts than longer ones. This confirms the results discussed in the previous section related to the students’ amounts of print exposure (texts 2.5 pages long on average). As regards the authenticity of the materials, both short and long authentic materials (newspaper / magazine articles, and books / fictions) received low scores (mean = 2.80 and 2.46 respectively) in comparison with the scores of inauthentic texts from books for English study (mean = 3.39). Moreover, the Internet, whose text authenticity is questionable, was by far the most common source of reading materials for these students, with the highest mean of 3,68 and both median and mode of 4. In other words, the participants read more of inauthentic materials than authentic ones, and more of shorter texts than longer ones. 1.3 Research question 3: Students’ reading strategies 1.3.1 Students’ general usage of strategies The participants divide themselves into three groups according to the level of strategy usage. The scores to distinguish these groups are adapted from Mokhtari & Sheorey (2002). To be specific, the mean of each participant’s scores for all 30 strategies was calculated. Based on this mean - 49 -
    • of all participants, three groups of different levels of strategy usage could be identified. “High” usage group had the mean of 3,5 or higher, “moderate” group with the mean of 2,5 to less than 3,5, and “low” group with the mean of less than 2,5. The proportion of these groups of participants in relation with the total 110 participants is shown in the figure below: Level of strategy usage Low 3% Moderate 52% High 45% Figure 2: Participants’ general level of strategy usage As can be seen from the chart, the majority of the participants (97%) reported moderate or high level of strategy usage. 1.3.2 Students’ usage of particular strategies - Global, problem solving, and support strategies According to Mokhtari & Sheorey (2002, p.4), the strategies belonged to three groups: global reading strategies (GLOB), problem solving strategies (PROB), and support strategies (SUP). The authors’ description of each group has been reviewed in chapter two. For a full list of these strategies together with their classification, see Appendix 4. As the mean scores for these groups were calculated, only problem solving strategies received high level of usage (mean = 3.65), while the other two groups were of moderate usage, with a slight difference (mean of - 50 -
    • global strategies = 3.28; mean of support strategies = 3.31). Thus it can be inferred that these students used strategies most frequently when they encountered problems during their reading practice. It should be noted that due to the current limited knowledge of this area, the researcher could not categorize every strategy in the list according to the following two frameworks. Therefore, the researcher resolved to focusing only on the strategies of highest and lowest usage to make sense of the data in accordance with the frameworks. - Cognitive and metacognitive strategies As the researcher ranked the most and the least frequently used strategies, some attention was paid to these emergent groups of strategies. As can be seen in the two tables below, while all the top five strategies of highest frequency of usage could be classified as metacognitive, three out of five at the bottom with lowest frequency of usage belonged to the cognitive group. What is more, the strategy at the very bottom is a cognitive one. Group Rank Items Mean Median Mode 26. When text becomes difficult, I pay M 1 4.120 4 4 closer attention to it. 22. I underline or circle information in M 2 4.074 4 5 the text to help me remember it. 21. I try to get back on track when I M 3 3.916 4 4 lose concentration. 25. I use reference materials (e.g. a M 4 dictionary) to help me understand what 3.852 4 4 I read. - 51 -
    • 35. I use typographical features like M 5 bold face or italics to identify key 3.806 4 4 information. Table 9: Strategies of highest frequency of usage (M = Metacognitive) Group Rank Items Mean Median Mode 30. I paraphrase (restate ideas in C 26 my own words) to better 2.852 3 3 understand what I read. 36. I try to guess what the C 27 2.850 3 3 content of the text is about. 39. I check to see if my guesses M 28 2.833 3 3 about the text are right or not. 38. I ask myself questions I like M 29 2.710 3 2 to have answered in the text. 33. I critically analyze and C 30 evaluate the information 2.685 3 3 presented in the text. Table 10: Strategies of lowest frequency of usage (M = Metacognitive; C = Cognitive) In other words, the participants seemed to be well aware of and frequently use some metacognitive reading strategies; however, certain cognitive strategies have been poorly used by the participants, especially the strategy of critically analyzing and evaluating information in the text. - 52 -
    • - Low and high-order thinking strategies The researcher also singled out eight strategies that could be considered of high order thinking in Bloom taxonomy (application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation). The following table presents these strategies together with their mean scores and ranks: Rank Items Mean 18 15. I think about what I know to help me understand the text 3.36 18. I think about whether the content of the text fits my reading 22 3.26 purpose 20. I review the text first by noticing its characteristics like length 13 3.45 and organization 12 24. I decide what to read closely and what to ignore 3.48 17 28. I stop from time to time and think about what I’m reading 3.38 33. I critically analyze and evaluate the information presented in the 30 2.69 text 34. I go back and forth in the text to find relationships among ideas 19 3.32 in it 27 36. I try to guess what the content of the text is about 2.85 Table 11: High-order thinking strategies Neither of these strategies had high level of usage. Moreover, six of these strategies rank quite low, at the 17th position and lower in the list. Meanwhile, the ten strategies with the usage level marked as “high” (mean 3.59 and higher) do not require high-order thinking. These strategies rank from the top (1) to 10th in the list of 30 strategies. From these analyses, it - 53 -
    • can be inferred further that the participants used low-order thinking strategies much more frequently than the high-order thinking ones. In a nutshell, the majority of the participants generally have moderate and high level of strategy usage. However, when further examination of the sub-groups of strategies was made, there emerged some discrepancies between the participants’ use of different groups of strategies. To be specific, problem solving strategies were used more frequently than global reading and support strategies. Furthermore, the most frequently used strategies were the metacognitive ones. At the same time, some cognitive strategies and those strategies that require high-order thinking had limited frequency of use. 2. Phase two The data obtained in this second phase provide the researcher with the answers to the last three research questions related to the participants’ reading purposes, reading difficulties, and their perceptions of the benefits of extensive reading. Besides, the researcher could also make a summary of the findings regarding each of the participants in this phase. 2.1 Research question 4: Students’ reading purposes. Four reading purposes could be listed from the interviewees’ answers: reading for entertainment, reading to improve English proficiency, to gain knowledge needed in other academic activities, and to do compulsory reading assignments. These purposes could be grouped into intrinsic and extrinsic purposes. - Reading for entertainment: Four out of five interviewees claimed that they did read to entertain themselves. However, three of these four interviewees ranked this purpose - 54 -
    • with least priority in comparison with other purposes. The most common explanation was the load of assignments these students had to fulfill: “I do read for entertainment but very rarely because I don’t have time. I think I’ve got enough assignments.” (Chi) Only Bich said that she read mostly because she felt like reading. - Reading to improve English proficiency: Bich also expressed her wish to learn English vocabulary in particular and to “better her English proficiency” in general: “I love to learn new words, so learning new words is my first purpose.” Unlike Bich, Dung and Hoa also read with the purpose of practicing English pronunciation. - Reading to gain knowledge needed in other activities: All five interviewees shared the purpose of reading to get information or knowledge to serve their other activities like presentation, spoken report, writing assignment, or in-class discussion: “When preparing for my presentation in the British study course, for example, I may read up to 20 pages. When reading if I come across some interesting idea, I will stop to see whether it fits the topic I’m doing research on. If it does, I take it.” (Chi) “I read to gain knowledge to take part in the ‘i-knowledge’ activities in my class. ‘i-knowledge’ means sharing knowledge, you know.” (Hoa) - Reading to do compulsory reading assignments This is another common answer among the interviewees to the forth research question. “I often read weekly, according to the requirements of the reading course. As I’m still a student, I have to comply with the university’s requirements. The text books and teachers’ handouts are compulsory. So I read them.” (Anh) - 55 -
    • “I most often read when there is some assignment such as reading reflection.” (Chi) Three out of the above four purposes of reading extensively emerged as extrinsic purposes – purposes “driven by external factors like parental pressure, social expectations, academic requirements”. (Richards & Schmidt 2002, p.343). Only the first purpose – reading for entertainment, which did not receive high priority among the respondents – focuses on the enjoyment of reading itself, and thus is an intrinsic purpose. In short, the five students interviewed tend to read for extrinsic purposes rather than intrinsic ones. 2.2 Research question 5: Students’ reading difficulties. In the interviews the respondents discussed a wide range of difficulties they encountered in their practice of extensive reading. Generally these difficulties were related to five major issues: the content of the reading text, the new vocabulary items, the level of concentration of the readers, the reading speed, and the availability of materials. - The content of the reading text Four out of five respondents complained that the texts they read were sometimes confusing or difficult to comprehend. Anh and Bich even ranked this to be their biggest difficulty: “Sometimes the reading text itself is unclear and when I read I cannot understand it.” (Anh) “I find it hard to summarize the main ideas of the reading text, sometimes because it’s too long, sometimes because there are too many ideas in it.” (Bich) - The presence of new vocabulary items All five respondents reported to have difficulties related to new vocabulary items. On the one hand, there may be too many new words or - 56 -
    • phrases in the reading texts at high density. On the other hand, the interviewees have not developed effective skills to guess the meanings of these new words. Some of them were too dependent on the dictionary. For instance, Hoa reported that when she began to read a text, she always scanned it for new words, marked them, then looked up every new word in the dictionary for both the meaning and the pronunciation. Not until the meanings of all these new words had been noted down did she start reading the text. Chi and Dung also reported their using dictionary software when they read electric texts instead of guessing since it was much quicker and more convenient than paper dictionary and certainly much more accurate than their own guesses. - The readers’ lack of concentration Two of the respondents (Anh and Dung) also mentioned their lack of concentration while reading as one of the difficulties. However, according to them, this phenomenon did not frequently happen and they thought it to be the least serious of all difficulties. - The readers’ slow reading speed Chi and Hoa were also concerned with their reading speed, which they thought was slow. Hoa was able to trace the cause of this to her dependence on the dictionary: “My reading speed is slow because I spend too much time looking up new words. I think I do not know how to guess the meanings of new words, therefore I always have to use the dictionary, which slows down my reading speed.” - The limited availability of suitable materials. Finally, three respondents also had some difficulties with finding materials. While Bich couldn’t find many materials that suit her interests, - 57 -
    • Chi sometimes found it hard to find reliable materials. She and Anh thought it not easy to select by themselves materials that suit their English level as well. However, similar to the readers’ lack of concentration, this difficulty was not found serious by any of these four respondents. So far, five major difficulties have been identified. It is noteworthy that most of these are reading difficulties while only the limited availability of suitable materials is a context-bound one and it doesn’t seem to cause the respondents much trouble. Among four reading difficulties, new vocabulary items as well as how to deal with them, and the difficult or confusing contents of the texts were reported to be most challenging. 2.3 Research question 6: Students’ perception of the benefits of ER. When asked what the benefits of extensive reading were, the respondents listed several benefits, namely better vocabulary, better reading skill in general and reading speed in particular and even better pronunciation, wider background knowledge, and enjoyment. - Larger vocabulary: Bich and Chi were aware that extensive reading was beneficial to their English vocabulary. To them this was one of the most important benefits of extensive reading. - Better reading skill: Two of the respondents could identify the effect of extensive reading on their reading skill. Anh thought it helped her to improve her performance in courses related to reading in general. Chi specified that “it betters my reading skill, especially my reading speed.” - 58 -
    • - Better pronunciation: A particular case is Dung who said that extensive reading could help her improve her pronunciation, as she was in the habit of reading aloud. - Wider background knowledge: This was by far the benefit most frequently acknowledged by the respondents. Four of them asserted that extensive reading gave them “more knowledge in a wide range of areas” (Hoa) and “a lot of interesting information” (Dung). Three of them ranked this benefit on the top. - Enjoyable activity: Bich, the only respondent with an intrinsic reading purpose, also claimed that extensive reading to her was first and foremost a source of enjoyment, as she “loved reading courses most of all university courses.” In short, the respondents have touched upon some key aspects of the benefits of reading, including its benefits on the readers’ knowledge of English language components (vocabulary and pronunciation), English language skill (reading skill), and the readers’ general background knowledge as well as the enhanced motivation in reading that reading itself could bring about. However, to take each respondent’s answers separately, each of them know only one or two aspects of the benefits of extensive reading and had little awareness of the other benefits. Of all the aspects mentioned by the respondents, background knowledge was acknowledged to benefit the most from extensive reading. 2.4 Summary of findings about each participant As the second phase of the study was finished, it was possible for the researcher to summarize her findings about each participant. - 59 -
    • 2.4.1 Findings about Anh Anh has been studying English for 9 continuous years. Her latest scores in English spoken and written communication were a C and a B respectively. Anh read in moderate amounts and frequency. It took her on average 25 minutes each time of reading with a text of 5 A4 pages on average. Her most common source of reading material is the internet. Her use of reading strategy was of high level (mean = 3.83) Anh had quite practical reading purposes. Most of the time she read to fulfill reading assignments or to find information for other assignments. Her preferred materials were compulsory text books and teachers’ handouts because she believed they were suitable for her level. She was concerned that the materials she got by herself would not be so suitable for her. Sometimes she also read short, humorous stories for entertainment but this did not happen very often since she did not have time. As IELTS was a common testing format in the university, she also purposefully chose IELTS study books for her reading practice. Thus, most of her materials were not authentic ones. For Anh, the biggest challenge in her practice of reading was comprehension of the reading texts. Sometimes she found the reading texts difficult to comprehend, at other times she found herself lacking in concentration. Besides, she also had to face a large number of new words or strange terms. Then she did try to guess the words’ meaning before seeking help in the dictionary. Anh considered the widened background knowledge the best benefit of extensive reading. She was also aware that extensive reading could help her improve her reading skill. - 60 -
    • 2.4.2 Findings about Bich Like Anh, Bich has been studying English for 9 years. She had two Bs as the latest scores for English spoken and written communication. Bich said she read a lot but not frequently. Each time she spent up to two hours reading texts of 2 A4 pages long on average. While she usually read texts from the internet, she rarely read newspaper or magazine articles and books or fictions. The only English book she once read was Meyer’s “Twilight”. With mean of 4.07, her level of strategy usage was quite high. Bich was the only respondent with intrinsic reading purpose. She reported that except when doing compulsory assignment to meet deadlines, she always read when she felt like reading. She also loved reading to learn new vocabulary and to find ideas or information to do her assignments. Somewhat similar to Anh, the biggest challenge of reading to Bich was how to understand the author’s ideas. Sometimes the reading texts were so long or so dense with ideas that she found it hard to summarize the main points in her head. New vocabulary items also caused her some difficulty. Bich seemed aware of the multiple benefits of extensive reading. She claimed that “Reading can solve almost all of my problems in English study!”. Some most significant benefits of extensive reading listed by her included giving her enjoyment, improving her English level especially in terms of reading skill and vocabulary, and helping her in other courses that involved English. 2.4.3 Findings about Chi Of all the participants, Chi has been studying English for the longest period of time – 13 years. She received a B for both of her latest English spoken and written communication scores. - 61 -
    • Chi also read a lot but not frequently. She read text of 15A4 pages as average length in about two and a half hours. Her reading materials were mostly from the internet. Chi’s usage of strategies had a mean of 3.4, which meant she had moderate level of usage. Chi almost never read for entertainment, because she had “too many assignments.” Her reading was mostly to help her do other assignments. She often search the materials based on the main ideas in the text books or the topic she had in mind at the time. Unlike Anh and Bich, Chi’s biggest problem with reading was new vocabulary items. She tended to look up the words that she thought were important, tried to guess the meanings of some others, and sometimes skipped a word if it’s not important or too difficult to guess. Furthermore, reading speed was also her problem. Sometimes she also found the texts difficult due to their unclear outline or the uncommon ways of writing of the authors. For Chi, extensive reading was most beneficial to her vocabulary, then to her background knowledge, and also to her reading speed. 2.4.4 Findings about Dung This is the ninth year Dung has been studying English. Both her latest scores in English spoken and written communication were at level B. Dung neither read much nor read frequently. On average a text she read was two A4 pages long. When she read, she often read for 45 minutes. When she had to find the reading materials by herself, she often turned to the internet. Like Chi, Dung’s level of strategy usage was also moderate with score of 3.47. Dung said she didn’t like reading very much. Thus she only read to do assignments when the due time came. She depended much on her - 62 -
    • reading text book (Reading II) as it was “diverse in topics, informative, and easy to read.” Dung had several difficulties similar to Bich, namely in understanding the author’s ideas and summarizing the main contents of the texts. Besides she also had to deal with her lack of concentration, which was quite often. Dung’s answers agreed with Anh’s that extensive reading was most beneficial to her background knowledge. In addition, reading a lot could help Dung improve her reading skill. Particularly, she also found reading beneficial to her pronunciation as she tended to read aloud. 2.4.4 Findings about Hoa The last interviewee – Hoa – had similar number of years of English study with Anh, Bich, and Dung. However, her latest scores in English spoken and written communication were the lowest of the five interviewees with a D and a C respectively. Hoa was the only of the five to think that she read a lot and frequently. She often read texts of 4 A4 pages long in an average period of one hour and a half. She rarely read fictions and books and her materials were almost always taken from the internet. Her mean of strategy usage (2.37) placed her at the low level of usage. Her major purpose of reading was to read to increase her background knowledge and thus to perform better in her learning. Her difficulties in reading were closely related to vocabulary. She often found too many new words in the reading texts. As she didn’t think she was good at guessing their meanings, she grew dependent on the dictionary. The only time when she did not use dictionary while reading was during a sitting exam. - 63 -
    • When asked about the benefits of extensive reading, the only answer from her was that reading benefited her background knowledge. It seemed that this student was not well aware of the many benefits of extensive reading. Chapter summary To sum up, in this chapter the researcher has presented all the answers to the six research questions that could be obtained from the data in both phases of the study. The major findings from these results together with further discussion will be offered in the next chapter. - 64 -
    • CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION This last chapter of the research paper is saved for a summary of the major findings in this study and some pedagogical implications from them. Then, also in this chapter the researcher acknowledges some limitations of the current study and finally discusses its contributions. 1. Major findings of the study On seeking the answers to six research questions, the study has yielded a picture of the participants’ practice of extensive reading in different respects, namely their reading amounts, materials, strategies, purposes, and their perceptions of the benefits of extensive reading. In view of these students’ reading amounts, they did not read frequently but each time they did, they spent a significant amount of time (75 minutes on average). Regarding their reading materials, the students participating in this study tended to read more short texts like newspaper and magazine articles, with the average length of 2,5 A4 pages, than longer texts like fictions. Moreover, they also read more inauthentic materials, especially from English study books, than authentic ones from real life publications. The most common source of reading materials for these students was the internet. As regards the students’ use of reading strategies, the majority of them use strategies quite frequently while reading. However, further examination of particular groups of strategies revealed that these students used metacognitive strategies much more frequently than cognitive ones, and those strategies of high-order thinking level were of limited use. - 65 -
    • As the study moved into its second phase of closer investigation of five students’ extensive reading practice, the researcher found out that the students mostly read for extrinsic purposes, especially those purposes related to their academic performance. Furthermore, most of the time the students were faced with reading difficulties rather than context-bound difficulties. The two biggest difficulties were dealing with new vocabulary items in the reading texts and comprehending the texts, the content of which the students sometimes found confusing or difficult. In answer to the last research question, when asked about the benefits of extensive reading, the five students have touched upon various effects of extensive reading on background knowledge, vocabulary, language skills, and motivation. However, each student could only list one or two benefits, which showed their limited awareness of the many benefits of extensive reading. Finally, the research could also make a detailed profile for each of the five participants regarding their practice of extensive reading. Both Anh and Bich, two students with the high level of strategy usage, read a lot but not frequently. While Anh had practical purpose of reading to serve her study, Bich was driven by intrinsic purpose of reading to enjoy herself. The two students share the biggest difficulty related to comprehending the texts, or more specifically the author’s ideas. Both of them could list many benefits of extensive reading. Chi and Dung were of moderate level of strategy usage. Like Anh and Bich, these two students also did frequently, though they did read much. Both of them also have extrinsic purpose in reading to fulfill assignments. Dung in particular did not like reading and only read as required. While Dung shared the same difficulty in comprehension with Anh and Bich, Chi found new vocabulary even more - 66 -
    • difficult. She thought extensive reading was most beneficial to her vocabulary development together with her background knowledge. Besides background knowledge, Dung in particular also benefited from reading aloud to practice pronunciation. Finally, Hoa was the student with low level of reading strategy usage. Unlike the other four, Hoa reported that she read both in large amounts and with high frequency, with the extrinsic purpose of extending her background knowledge, which she needed in her study. Most of her difficulties were related to vocabulary and she could thought of one benefit of extensive reading to her background knowledge. 2. Pedagogical implications from the findings The major findings of this study imply several things that can be done to better the students’ practice of extensive reading. Firstly, one of the key to the success of extensive reading is reading amount. As Nation (2005, p.10) analyzed, “learning through extensive reading is largely incidental learning”, what the readers gain from extensive reading may be quite fragile. In order for such gains to be retained much longer, regular reading is needed. As the students examined in the current study didn’t read frequently, they should be encouraged to do so. With regard to their extrinsic purpose of reading, one way of encouraging the students to read is through assignments and other assessment tools that give them specific, short-term and regularly renewed goals in their reading. This has actually been realized to a significant degree in the current reading courses. However, attention should also be paid to fostering these students’ intrinsic reading motivation, so that they can develop a love for reading and find it more enjoyable instead of considering it a compulsory, necessary but tiring task to be fulfilled at due time. Raising these students’ awareness of the benefits of extensive reading may be useful in this respect. - 67 -
    • Secondly, the students’ reading materials are also worth some consideration. It is necessary that more of these students’ attention should be drawn to the role of authentic materials in their English study and how to exploit these materials. Besides, the fact that the students tended to read more short texts than longer ones may imply that these students have some difficulties with longer authentic texts like books or fictions. Thus, they may need some instruction on how to deal with this particular type of texts and even some encouragement to get themselves engaged in reading these more challenging but rewarding texts. Moreover, regarding the students’ tendency to rely on the Internet, they should be reminded that the materials from this source are sometimes authentic and sometimes not. Thus, skills to critically evaluate the materials, especially in terms of authenticity, are required of the students. First the students must know how to distinguish authentic materials from inauthentic ones, and then how to find and select those materials. This calls for the use of more high-order thinking strategies. Lastly, regarding the students’ use of strategies, their moderate and high frequency of use as reported in the questionnaires is an encouraging sign of their awareness of these strategies and their actual use of them. However, the gap between the frequency of use between some metacognitive and cognitive strategies, as well as the low scores for high- order thinking strategies indicates that these groups of strategies have not been of frequent use to the students. Thus, the students’ awareness of these strategies and their importance should be improved and the students may also need instruction from their teachers as to how to use these strategies effectively. Moreover, the more frequent use of more strategies, especially the high-order thinking ones, could help the students overcome certain reading difficulties, particularly those related to comprehension. - 68 -
    • 3. Limitations of the study and suggestions for further study Despite the researcher’s effort in justifying the methodology of the study and collecting as well as analyzing the data with careful consideration, there still exist some shortcomings. The major shortcoming was due to the limited resources, namely the researcher’s time and expertise. Thus, the researcher has chosen to focus on the things that are easy to describe, such as reading materials or perceptions of the benefits of reading. More complicated issues including the relations between different aspects could not be dealt with. In fact, the research has attempted to integrate different aspects of the students’ extensive reading practice into a general picture. However, the findings are still of a descriptive nature. There is still a considerable gap for future research into those more complicated issues. Still due to the researcher’s limited knowledge of the field, the study is more general than from a particular perspective regarding the practice of extensive reading. Hence, future research into this issue from a more specific perspective is still much needed. Besides, another limitation can be found in the convenient sampling procedure employed in phase one of the study. The researcher had little choice but to adopt this procedure mostly due to the conflicts in schedules of the participants and the researcher’s and the time constraint under which this study has been conducted. Due to this kind of sampling procedure, the results cannot be generalized to the whole population. In order to partly make up for this limitation, in the first phase of the study the researcher attempted to involve as many as two-fifths of the population, which was of significant size. - 69 -
    • One shortcoming of the current study that is not very serious but should still be mentioned is the limited number of participants in its second phase. In this phase, only five of the 110 participants in the first phase were selected to participate in the interviews. This number was too small to provide an overall picture of the students’ practice of extensive reading, which the researcher had succeeded in doing in the first phase with large- scale survey. Therefore, it is worth reminding that the aim of the second phase was to provide more in-depth information on certain cases. This was done through a range of open-ended interview questions that were almost impossible to be applied to the large number of participants in the first phase. - 70 -
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    • APPENDIX 1
    • APPENDIX 2
    • APPENDIX 3 INTERVIEW SCHEDULE Interview number: ……………………............................................... Focus Interview questions - Where is your hometown? Respondent’s - How long have you been studying English / When did you start profile studying English? Is your English study interrupted at any time? - What are your latest scores for spoken (listening, speaking) and written English (reading, writing)? Reading 1. What are your purposes when you read extensively? purpose Please rank those purposes according to their frequency or importance. Reading 2. What difficulties do you meet when you read extensively? difficulties Please rank them according to the level of difficulty. Benefits of 3. In your opinion, what are the benefits of extensive reading? extensive Please rank those benefits in the order of importance. reading Overall 4. What do you think of your current practice of extensive reading? remark
    • APPENDICE 4 Categorization of strategies according to Mokhtari & Sheorey (2002) CATEGORY STATEMENTS GLOB 13. I have a purpose in mind when I read. SUB 14. I take notes while reading to help me understand what I read. GLOB 15. I think about what I know to help me understand what I read. 16. I take an overall view of the text to see what it is about before GLOB reading it. 17. when text becomes difficult, I read aloud to help me understand SUP what I read. 18. I think about whether the content of the text fits my reading GLOB purpose. 19. I read slowly and carefully to make sure I understand what I am PROB reading. 20. I review the text first by noting its characteristics like length and GLOB organization. PROB 21. I try to get back on track when I lose concentration. 22. I underline or circle information in the text to help me remember SUP it. PROB 23. I adjust my reading speed according to what I am reading. GLOB 24. when reading, I decide what to read closely and what to ignore. 25. I use reference materials (e.g., a dictionary) to help me SUP understand what I read. 26. when text becomes difficult, I pay closer attention to what I am PROB reading.
    • 27. I use tables, figures, and pictures in text to increase my GLOB understanding. PROB 28. I stop from time to time and think about what I am reading. 29. I use context clues to help me better understand what I am GLOB reading. 30. I paraphrase (restate ideas in my own words) to better SUP understand what I read. 31. I try to picture or visualize information to help remember what I PROB read. 32. I use typographical features like bold face and italics to identify GLOB key information. 33. I critically analyze and evaluate the information presented in the GLOB text. 34. I go back and forth in the text to find relationships among ideas SUP in it. GLOB 35. I check my understanding when I come across new information. GLOB 36. I try to guess what the content of the text is about when I read. 37. when text becomes difficult, I re-read it to increase my PROB understanding. SUP 38. I ask myself questions I like to have answered in the text GLOB 39. I check to see if my guesses about the text are right or wrong. PROB 40. when I read, I guess the meaning of unknown words or phrases. SUP 41. when reading, I translate from English to Vietnamese. 42. when reading, I think about information in both English and SUP Vietnamese.