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A latent growth modeling study of the development of reading comprehension in ESL learners Chong, Suet Ling

Abstract

An important question in the field of reading development is whether models of reading, which apply largely to monolingual English (L1) learners, also apply to English as a Second Language (ESL) learners. The pursuit of such an inquiry is critical to the development of empirically valid models of reading in ESL populations. This study investigated the nature and determinants of the developmental pathways of reading comprehension in ESL (N=153) and L1 learners (N=593) from the fourth to the seventh grade. Two research questions guided the research: (1) How similar are ESL learners to L1 learners in their reading comprehension growth trajectories? (2) How similar are ESL learners to L1 learners in the determinants of their reading comprehension growth trajectories? The following basic processes of reading comprehension were examined: phonological awareness, pseudoword decoding, word identification, reading fluency, and syntactic awareness. Using latent growth modeling, the study found that ESL learners were identical to L1 learners in the functional form (both showed linear growth), slope or rate of growth, intra-individual variability, and linguistic determinants, of their reading comprehension growth trajectories. However, they were weaker than L1 learners in their reading comprehension skill levels. These results provide compelling support for the applicability of L1 models of reading comprehension for ESL learners, and help shape an emergent conceptualization of reading comprehension development for ESL learners.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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