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Keywords:

  • advanced learners;
  • comprehension;
  • individual learner differences;
  • second language reading;
  • self-assessment.

Abstract: The present study on second language (L2) reading and individual difference variables (IDVs) examines learners' self-assessed ability level and enjoyment and the effects of these factors on two different measures of comprehension. The investigation controls for topic familiarity differences by gender and the study utilizes the authentic short story Aniversario by Luis Romero (Virgillo, Friedman, & Valdivieso, 1998). During regular class period, 88 participants from advanced grammar courses completed the following: (a) a questionnaire about general L2 reading abilities and enjoyment, (b) a reading passage, (c) a written recall task, (d) multiple-choice questions, and (e) a questionnaire concerning topic familiarity. Propositions in the text were analyzed for pausal units and recalls were scored for such units (Bernhardt, 1991). Results revealed that students believed they were satisfactory readers of Spanish and they generally enjoyed reading in Spanish. As predicted, levels of self-assessed abilities positively correlated with levels of enjoyment. The study yielded significant effects for both self-assessed ability and enjoyment on written recall (an open-ended assessment task), but no such effects were found on the multiple-choice questions (a task including retrieval cues). The study revealed that at the advanced levels of language instruction learners' self-assessment of their L2 reading ability was quite accurate, in terms of written recall. The findings suggest that the study of the variables self-assessment and enjoyment, in association with other L2 reading factors such as metacognition, anxiety, and motivation, may contribute to a better understanding of L2 reading comprehension.