READING IN SPANISH AND ENGLISH: EVIDENCE FROM ADULT ESL STUDENTS

Authors

  • Mark A. Clarke

    1. University of Colorado at Denver 1978
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    • I would like to thank Robert Marzano, University of Colorado at Denver, for an insightful critique of an early draft of the paper. I would also like to thank Senaida T. Garcia, UCD, for her efficient secretarial and editorial assistance in the preparation of the paper.


Abstract

The research discussed here attempted to determine if (a) pycholing-uistics could explain the reading behaviors of adult Spanish speakers reading in Spanish and in English, and (b) if theme readers transferred their skills to English. The results of two studies are presented. In the first study, twenty-one adult Spanish-speaking ESL students took cloze tests in Spanish and in English. In the second study, the Spanish and English reading performances of a good L1 reader and a poor L1 reader were analyzed according to established oral miscue procedures. The results of these studies confirm the psycholinguistic perspective of reading for Spanish speakers reading in Spanish. However, it appears that language competence exerta a powerful effect on the reader, thereby reducing the good reader's advantage over the poor reader when their performances in English are compared. It is concluded that a language competence ceiling effectively prohibits the complete transfer of L1 reading skills to the second language. It is suggested that limited command of the language produces a “short circuit” effect on good readers, forcing them to revert to “poor reader strategies.” Theoretical, pedagogical and methodological implications are discussed.

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