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Academic reading strategies used by Chinese EFL learners : five case studies Cheng, Li

Abstract

The number of people learning English as a second or foreign language has increased dramatically over the last two decades. Many of these second language learners are university students who must attain very sophisticated academic skills. To a great extent, their academic success hinges on their ability to read a second language. This multiplecase study investigated first language (LI) and second language (L2) reading strategies in academic settings. The study drew on Bernhardt's (2000) socio-cognitive model of second language reading. Five Chinese students in a graduate program in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) volunteered to participate in the study. A combination of data collection techniques was employed including think-alouds, interviews, learning logs, classroom observations, course materials, and the participants' reading samples. The results showed that there were similarities and differences between LI and L2 reading strategies. Although evidence was found supporting the view of cognitive universals and socio-cultural constraints, individual differences at the cognitive level and similarities across cultures were also identified. The findings of this study indicate that the comparison between LI and L2 academic reading should take into consideration the similarities and differences at both cognitive and cultural levels. Implications are discussed in relation to the construction of an L2 transfer model as well as the delivery of L2 reading instruction.

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