UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Promoting reading skills of young adult EAL learners through voice recognition software D'Silva, Reginald Arthur


The growing international student population in post-secondary institutions in Canada calls for Academic Exchange Programs (AEPs) to focus on promoting reading skills of English as an Additional Language (EAL) students in order to help them read academic and non-academic texts more proficiently. The current study, conducted at a major western Canadian university, investigated the effectiveness of a computer-based software program called the Reading Tutor (RT) in enhancing the reading performance of EAL young adults. A survey determined the reading preferences of participants and reading materials related to news articles were incorporated into the software. Two experimental groups, one (n=16) that self-reported a preference and the other that self-reported a non-preference (n=12) for such reading materials used the software over a period of eight weeks. A control group (n=14) served as a comparison. Results showed that a preference for reading materials positively influenced the non-transfer and transfer of reading fluency skills for non-academic reading materials in a computer-based environment. These skills also transferred to academic texts. However, the gain in reading fluency did not result in gains in comprehension. There was also a positive gain in how students self-assessed their ability to read in English in both of the experimental groups when compared to the control group. The survey also probed reading habits and found that students were in concentric domains of ESL and EFL, spending a majority of their time mainly reading in English for academic purposes. Reading for pleasure in English was only a small part of the students’ reading repertoire. The model of Concentric Domains of Instructional Environments (CDIE) stemming from these results suggests that AEPs, such as the one in the current study, may benefit from reading programs that incorporate extensive reading of non-academic reading materials. There appears to be a small number of studies investigating the effectiveness of computer-based literacy tools in promoting reading skills, among university EAL learners. This study makes a unique and valuable contribution to the understanding of such tools in promoting reading skills with student-preferred materials. In addition, the study adds to the understanding of reading habits of Japanese students in AEPs.

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