L2 Reading Comprehension and Development

Authored by: William Grabe

Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning

Print publication date:  December  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138859814
eBook ISBN: 9781315716893
Adobe ISBN: 9781317508366


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Reading comprehension in L2 settings, primarily in academic settings, is one of the most important complex language abilities needed by L2 students. I will assume in this chapter that reading comprehension issues center on the ability to understand complex texts, whether fictional narrative or informational. Moreover, the goal of L2 students is to succeed in academic settings, primarily secondary and post-secondary. To achieve success, students have to be able to understand texts at a reasonably detailed level, draw inferences about the information in the text, and use this information for various other academic tasks. Multiple surveys of faculty and students point to the importance of many skills associated with reading comprehension abilities (Anderson, 2015; Rosenfeld et al., 2001). In this chapter, I briefly outline ways to understand reading comprehension more generally and identify major component skills and knowledge bases needed for reading comprehension. This foundation then provides a straightforward means to understand and explore differences between L1 and L2 reading comprehension abilities. This foundation also generates implications for academic reading instruction (both L1 and L2), leading to research opportunities for translating research into practice.

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