Processing Strategies of Foreign Language Readers: Authentic and Edited Input


  • Dolly Jesusita Young

    1. The University of Tennessee
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      Dolly Jesusita Young (Ph.D., The University of Texas) is Assistant Professor of Spanish at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.


ABSTRACT  While there is increasing use of authentic texts in foreign language instruction and much has been written about using authentic texts in the foreign language class, little empirical data have been collected regarding authentic materials. This study examines cognitive and affective responses to one authentic and three edited texts.

Four levels of language learners (first through fourth year) at a major university in the United States were asked to read the same Spanish authentic passage and an edited passage written for the level of their Spanish course. After each silent reading, they performed think-alouds in the native language to provide data on strategy-use, and recall protocols, also in the native language, to provide reading comprehension scores. After the recall protocol task, subjects were interviewed to assess their affective responses to each text.

Results indicated that all students comprehended significantly more from the authentic passage than from the edited ones. The majority of students also responded more favorably to the authentic passage than to the edited ones.

This research suggests that students would benefit more from reading authentic texts, having cultural information written in English, or reading edited texts written with the characteristics often found in authentic texts, such as bold headings, subheadings, pictures, obvious rhetorical organization, etc., than from reading edited texts that lack these characteristics and are typically found in first- and second-year language textbooks)1.