UBC Theses and Dissertations
Language minority students with poor and good reading comprehension : reading-related processes and use of reading strategies Mazabel Ortega, Silvia
Few studies have focused on the comprehension performance of language minority (LM) students and their findings are mixed. Some studies show that reading comprehension is an area of weakness and academic difficulty for LM students whereas others show the language status does not make a difference in reading comprehension performance. Various sources of difficulty LM students experience in reading comprehension have been described. The primary purpose of this study was to examine the similarities and differences between LM good and poor reading comprehenders in terms of their reading-related linguistic and cognitive skills, and their use of reading strategies. A descriptive multiple-case study comparing three poor reading comprehenders to six good reading comprehenders attending grade 6 and matched by gender, age, school, years of schooling in English, and years living in Canada was conducted. Comparisons were made in relation to their language proficiency, word-level reading skills, verbal working memory, and their use of reading strategies. The results indicated that the LM poor reading comprehenders obtained lower scores in measures of morphological awareness skills, word reading accuracy and efficiency, and vocabulary when compared to the good comprehenders. No differing patterns were found for non-word reading skills, syntactic awareness and working memory. As for the use of reading strategies, the poor and good comprehenders used reading strategies before, during and after a reading activity. The good reading comprehenders tended to use global reading strategies more frequently whereas the poor reading comprehenders tended to use support reading strategies more often. No difference was found between the poor and good comprehenders in the use of problem solving reading strategies. Having an explicit goal to perform after reading did not help the overall reading comprehension performance of participants but it promoted their use of reading strategies. Weaknesses in reading basic skills and higher-order skills seem to be sources of difficulty related to the reading comprehension failures of LM struggling comprehenders in this study. Future research should examine whether and how the direct teaching of morphological skills and strategic reading could help the reading comprehension performance of LM students.
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