The contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension: Evidence from adult ESL learners
2nd November 2021 : 13:00 - 14:00
Research Group: Applied Linguistics
Speaker: Dr Hala Alghamdi (University of Jeddah)
Convener: Faidra Faitaki
Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.
Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.