Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Reading in L2 (English) and L1 (Persian): An Investigation into Reveres Transfer of Reading Strategies

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Reading in L2 (English) and L1 (Persian): An Investigation into Reveres Transfer of Reading Strategies

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study investigates the effect of reading strategies instruction in L2 (English) on raising reading strategies awareness and use and reading ability of Iranian EFL learners in L2 (English) and L1 (Persian) as a result of transfer of reading strategies from L2 to L1. To this purpose, 120 students of intermediate and advanced English proficiency levels constituted the control and experimental groups. Then, a test of reading comprehension and a reading strategy questionnaire in L2 and L1 as pretests were distributed to the participants. After giving the experimental groups reading strategy instruction the post tests were distributed to all participants. Analysis of the data showed the experimental group outperformed the control group on the English and Persian reading comprehension strategy questionnaire and reading comprehension tests. Through teaching reading strategies in L2 we can enhance the reading strategy awareness and use and reading ability of EFL students both in L2 and L1.

Keywords: Reading, Reading strategies, Reverse transfer, First language, Second language

1. Introduction

Reading, whether in L1 or L2 is surely an important skill. Chastain (1988, p. 216) states "reading is a basic and complementary skill in language learning." Since reading is a problem-solving activity, the idea of strategic reading has become the matter of investigation in recent years. Since the late 1970's, ESL researchers have begun to recognize the relationship between reading strategies and successful and unsuccessful second language reading in L1 and/or L2 (Block, 1986; Jimenez, Garcia, and Pearson, 1995, Anderson and Roit, 1993; Block, 1993; Palincsar and Brown, 1984; Paris, Cross, and Lipson, 1984; Pearson and Fielding, 1991, Carrell, 1998). Urquhart and Weir (1998, p. 95) regard reading strategies as "ways of getting around difficulties encountered while reading." Reading in a L2 is not a monolingual event. L2 readers have access to their first language as they read. The influence of the L1 on the learner's performance in a given target language is called "substratum transfer" (Odlin, 1989, p. 169). Odlin (1989, p. 27) defines transfer as "the influence resulting from similarities and differences between the target language and any other language (emphasis added) that has been previously (and perhaps imperfectly) acquired." This transfer can affect all linguistic (such as phonetic, phonological, semantic, syntactic, morphological) and non-linguistic (such as concepts, culture, and attitude,) levels. Cohen (1995) found that people with access to two or more languages frequently shift between them. Pavlenko and Travis (2002, p. 191) in their discussions of transfer, refer to 'bidirectional transfer' as the two-way interaction between the two linguistic systems. As far as the bi-directional transfer is concerned, the concept of "dual language" was put forward as an alternative to "interlanguage" (Kecskes & Papp, 2003; Kecskes & Cuenca, 2005). Research in language studies has ever used terms such as L1 and interlanguage (Selinker, 1972). Interlanguage is the language of the L2 learner as an approximation to an L1 system of native speakers. However, Cook (2003, p.1) introduces these concepts in a more comprehensive way by using the term 'multicompetence'. Multi-competence means the knowledge of two or more languages in one mind. It involves the concept of interlanguage and L1, and regards the mind of the L2 user with these components as a whole rather than as separate components. As Cook (2004, p. 2) states, this concept suggests that "since the first language and the other language or languages are in the same mind, they must form a language super-system at some level rather than completely separate systems." Therefore, studying second language acquisition means accepting this totality, not just the interlanguage component. Grosjean (1992, in Pavlenko & Travis, 2002) states that a bilingual is not the sum of two complete or incomplete monolinguals in one body but rather a specific speaker with a unique linguistic system. …

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