Vol. 3. No. 1 A-3 November 1997
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First and Second Language Use in Reading Comprehension Strategies of Japanese ESL Students

Thomas A. Upton
University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire


Reading in a second language (L2) is not a monolingual event; L2 readers have access to their first language (L1) as they read and many use it as a strategy to help comprehend an L2 text. Due to difficulties in observing the comprehension process, little research has been conducted to try to determine what roles the L1 and L2 play in the reading strategies of L2 readers or how these roles vary at different proficiency levels. This study attempts to address these two issues. Eleven native speakers of Japanese, at two different proficiency levels, were asked to think-aloud --in the language of their thoughts -- as they were reading an English text. In retrospective interviews, subjects then listened to their tape-recorded think-aloud protocols and were asked to clarify and explain their thoughts.

Three generalizations about L1 and L2 strategy use emerged from the data and are discussed.

Keywords: ESL, EFL, reading strategies, read-aloud protocals, Japanese

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