The topic of the paper: EFL Learners Reading Comprehension Difficulties
THIS PAPER IS DESCRIPTIVE STUDY (DEPENDS ONLY IN THE PREVIOUS STUDIES)
The write should write:
Chapter 1: Introduction ( two pages )
In this chapter the first two pages ( written at the beginning of this chapter and before the aims of the study) should be about the reading difficulties and little about the reading training. (The references written must be written in full name)
Chapter 2: Literature review (10 Pages)
In this chapter, the writer has to write about no less than 25 studies in the same topic. The form of writing should be critical.
Chapter 3: Methodology
It is done as it is available with the attached document.
Chapter 4: Results (Findings and Analysis) (3 Pages)
In this chapter the first paragraph is already written. The next paragraphs should follow the following forms.
The requirements for my order are:
This chapter should be critical and analyze and concentrate on the previous studies (because this study is a descriptive study depending on the previous studies) in the form of paragraphs. And each paragraph should imitate the following examples: Example: The scholars X and Y agree about the reasons for the weaknesses of listening comprehension and these reasons are … But the researchers Z and Q suppose … The searchers A and B see the solutions as ….
The form of the two pages of this chapter should be as the form of the previous example. The information of this chapter must be from the literature review of this paper. The sources of this paper should be from the chapter two: the literature review. No problem if you add but as the above form
This chapter consists of two parts
First: Recommendations: ( 3 pages )
– The paragraph at the beginning following by the recommendations as a form of points ( each point are about 3 lines) around 10 points.
Second: Conclusion: (1 page)
At the end of the conclusion, the writer should write that the scholars who have an agreement and disagreement about the topic.
EFL Learners Reading Comprehension Difficulties
Reading difficulties pose a major challenge for EFL learners. This issue has been widely discussed in the literature on foreign language acquisition (Cheng & Good, 2009; Zhang & Wu, 2009; Tozcu & Coady, 2004; Yoshii, 2006). In this regard, efforts have been made to identify the most prevalent reading comprehension difficulties as well as to find strategies that can enable EFL learners to address those difficulties. At the same time, it has become increasingly important for researchers to explore the various methods of reading training that learners can use to achieve gains in terms of comprehending whatever EFL content that they read.
Despite research progress, many aspects of reading comprehension difficulties remain unresolved. In many cases, a trial-and-error seems to be in use, whereby researchers recommend the use of certain strategies before conducting reviews and subsequent amendments regarding their use in different EFL contexts based on newly-identified benefits and challenges. This phenomenon best describes the use of computer-assisted approaches to EFL reading comprehension. Literature on the use of strategies such as comic strips, multisensory techniques, L1 glosses, automatized access to L2 lexical items, and word recognition skills demonstrates that a vibrant debate is ongoing regarding ways of resolving EFL reading comprehension difficulties (Liu, 2004; Fukkink, Hulstijn & Simis, 2005). The aim of this paper is to contribute to this debate through a critical analysis of available literature on comprehension difficulties, strategies for dealing with those difficulties, prospects for reading training, and future research direction in this field of study.
The main aim of the study is to bring to light the following factors:
1. To find out the difficulties of EFL learners in reading comprehension.
2. To introduce empirical studies in reading strategies that present can enhance EFL reading comprehension.
This study is significant because it seeks to help students to identify issues relating to reading comprehension as well as to help teachers develop appropriate strategies for helping the students to overcome this problem. The obstacles of EFL for secondary students in the learning comprehension need attention in the module. Teachers need to change their EFL teaching strategies. By redefining reading strategies, teachers can handle the situation by understanding where the problem is rooted. The study will evaluate how the obstacles can be removed from the teachers in the reading sessions of EFL. It will address the issues that are related to secondary students and their learning ability and capacity. It will examine whether the content that is provided to them matches their mental and cognitive processing capabilities or not. It will also take into consideration various examples in the past literature to support the argument and break them down to a final conclusion. This study is basically going to help learners to understand what is causing these obstacles in the existing EFL learning strategies. For teachers, the study will be useful in the avoidance of such obstacles in the future.
The scope of this study’s significance can be broadened by studying courses that are correlated in terms of EFL teaching strategies. Meanwhile, the research method presented in this study follows a pattern in which various components are broken down into their constituent parts in order to enable the researcher to narrow down to specific obstacles being faced by the secondary students in reading comprehension. The study will be recommending new ideas in terms of teaching skills that can be used during reading sessions. The findings generated in this research paper will be of immense benefit to both teachers and students by enabling them to utilize the information contained therein to improve reading comprehension.
The current study intends to answer the following questions:
1. What are EFL reading comprehension problems?
2. What are the strategies that can enhance EFL reading comprehension?
Limitations of the Study
As this study is exclusively focused on the issue of reading comprehension, it does not take into consideration the other problems concerning aspects of listening and writing in the English language. This research paper does not go beyond reading issues affecting students. Therefore, the various strategies that are identified in the conclusion section are derived solely from critical review and analysis of literature on reading issues as mapped out in this paper.
EFL learners encounter various difficulties relating to reading comprehension. To understand these difficulties, one must first understand the meaning of reading. Alyousef (2006) argues that reading entails more than just decoding of information and constant guessing; it also entails skills in the identification and comprehension of various concepts. However, serious problems are bound to arise if the learner does not understand the target language well enough to use it in efforts to understand the information that is being communicated. In such situations, the learner must develop an open-ended hypothesis, which he must keep editing as new information becomes available. This explains the need for advanced concept identification and comprehension skills.
Some of the concepts relating to reading comprehension that have been identified in the literature include language skills, vocabulary development, reading-writing relations, comprehension strategy training, and automaticity (Hunt & Beglar, 2005). Of these concepts, automaticity may be subjected to a detailed explanation because of its pervasiveness in EFL literature. Alyousef (2006) defines automaticity is the tendency by a ready to be unaware of the processes unfolding as he reads as well as lacking control over those processes, most of which require little processing capacity. Another reason why it is important to explain this concept is that it has been linked with reading comprehension difficulties. Current research promotes the view that reading comprehension difficulties arise because of lack of automaticity among readers (Alyousef, 2006).
Vocabulary retention also a problematic area in reading comprehension among EFL learners. To determine learners’ level of vocabulary retention, vocabulary recall tests are normally used (Cheng & Good, 2009). A major problem arises because learners are compelled to learn the meanings of new words while at the same time shifting their focus to understand the meanings of those words in the context of the ongoing reading task. It may be worthwhile to note that two types of meanings are possible upon reading a text: schematic knowledge, which is derived through top-down processing, and systematic or linguistic knowledge, which is derived through bottom-up processing.
The problem of vocabulary retention is closely related to a common phenomenon in which EFL learners face difficulties in their efforts to learn new words. To address this problem, some learners resort to the use of L1 (first language) and L2 (second language) glosses (Cheng & Good, 2009). Glosses are brief marginal notations that provide the meaning of a word within a text. Glosses may be embedded into the language of the text or they may be in the language of the reader if the target language happens to be different from the learner’s L1. Cheng and Good (2009) point out that some teachers provide L1 and L2 glosses somewhere near the passage to be read as a way of increasing the effectiveness of L2 reading activity.
Other aspects of reading comprehension relating to vocabulary retention include vocabulary acquisition, reading interest, test difficulty, reading strategies, and readability (Cheng & Good, 2009; Oded & Walters, 2001). The frequent mention of the idea of using L1 and L2 glosses in the analysis of these concepts indicates that there is growing research interest in the role of different kinds of glosses in facilitating reading comprehension in general and vocabulary acquisition in particular (Cheng & Good, 2009). Examples of glosses include L2 definitions and L1 translations. These glosses may or may not be accompanied by example sentences. Glosses are beneficial in many respects; to begin with, they offer learners essential knowledge on the lexicon of the target language (Yoshii, 2006; Azari, 2012). This knowledge is useful for bottom-up processing (Gettys, Imhof, Kautz, 2001). Moreover, they enable learners to make correct inferences. Additionally, glossing is an ideal way of replacing the use of a dictionary, which can be a cumbersome activity during the reading process (Karp, 2002). The use of L1 marginal glosses enables learners to improve their incidental vocabulary learning; they create a situation whereby learners need not use the dictionary too often during their reading (Lenders, 2008).
The influence of prior knowledge also contributes to reading comprehension difficulties in EFL contexts. The extent to which these difficulties manifest themselves may vary depending on the learner’s perception of this knowledge vis-à-vis the new body of knowledge being introduced through the acquisition of a foreign language (Lin, 2002). Lin’s (2002) findings were derived from a survey of 400 EFL students attending secondary schools and colleges in China. These students emphasized the importance of their command of English language vocabulary in their reading comprehension. Lin (2002) also noted that as the linguistic knowledge of those students increased, the tended to pay less attention to their linguistic knowledge, mostly formal structures and syntax. Similarly, greater importance was attached to sociocultural and conceptual knowledge. The tendency to replace linguistic knowledge with sociocultural and conceptual knowledge as linguistic competence increases may be said to pose a serious challenge to the progress of learners in regards to reading comprehension.
Lack of peer interaction during the early phases of EFL reading programs also poses serious difficulties in the sense that it makes it difficult for collaborative learning to occur. Without collaborative learning, it may be difficult for EFL reading programs to be executed in an effective manner (Lan, Sung & Chang, 2007). A major mistake that teachers make is to group students heterogeneously in the hope that they will collaborate effectively to achieve all the group goals assigned to them. On the contrary, collaborative learning is unlikely to ensue in such situations because the participants involved lack the primary linguistic knowledge to communicate effectively with each other. Lan, Sung & Chang (2007) recommend the development and use of peer-assisted learning systems with a view to addressing most, if not all, of the weaknesses identified during collaborative learning.
Lack of fluency also poses a major problem for EFL learners in terms of their reading comprehension. This is because fluency plays a critical role in successful reading. Since EFL learners with different levels of competence in the target language may be going through the same reading program, it becomes difficult for teachers to promote fluency for everyone (Ikeda & Takeuchi, 2006). This situation is complicated by the fact that fluency alone cannot guarantee a successful reading. One may fluent in reading passage but that person may not necessarily comprehend its meaning (Ikeda & Takeuchi, 2006). It is at this point that in-depth knowledge of cognitive and metacognitive strategies for teachers come in handy for teachers. Awareness on how to use these strategies can help teachers manage classroom activities in the right way despite variations in the language proficiency levels and L1 backgrounds among learners. Research shows that it is virtually impossible for learners to attain good reading ability without gaining reading fluency and work recognition skills (Taguchi, Takayasu-Maass & Gorsuch, 2004; Abdelhafez, 2006). This means that learners must be helped to improve fluency, and this can best be accomplished by teachers who understand how to use a wide range of cognitive and metacognitive strategies.
Taguchi, Takayasu-Maass, and Gorsuch (2004) recommend the use of repeated reading as a strategy for improving fluency. This advice is anchored on the auditory reading model, which explains the importance of repeated exposure to L2 structures in efforts to improve reading skills in terms of both fluency and comprehension. According to Taguchi, Takayasu-Maass and Gorsuch (2004), repeated reading works in virtually the same way with extensive reading in promoting the learner’s mastery of the target language. As the learner keeps repeating reading tasks, a corresponding increase in his silent reading rate is likely to occur. Similarly, the learner is likely to benefit from a favorable change in his perception of reading activities. Additionally, these findings portray a positive image of other related strategies, such as listening components of assisted components and their role in facilitating reading comprehension. The widely held view in this regard is that assisted repeated reading promotes EFL learners’ fluency, thereby enabling them to become independent readers (Taguchi, Takayasu-Maass & Gorsuch, 2004).
Differences in proficiency levels among learners also pose serious challenges for both the learners and teachers. For learners, these differences make it virtually impossible for interaction and collaboration to occur. For teachers, the differences make it difficult for the proper choice of EFL teaching strategies to be made. For this reason, teachers are compelled to use different portfolios in an attempt to meet the needs of different groups, most notably higher-proficiency and lower-proficiency groups. This approach has far-reaching research and pedagogical implications revolving around the efficacy of strategies (Ikeda & Takeuchi, 2006; Zhang, 2008).
In some cases, learners may simply be unwilling to engage in strategic reading during participatory classroom activities (Tsai, Ernst & Talley, 2010). This poses a major problem in the process of EFL and ESL learner development, which may be traced back to negative perceptions and attitudes towards target language norms. Zhang (2008) argues that such a problem should be dealt with using insights from constructivist pedagogy. In the constructivist framework, teachers should focus on developing the reading proficiency of learners. For instance, instructional interventions should be geared towards guiding learners on how best to use various reading strategies to improve reading comprehension (Zhang, 2008; Jiang & Grabe, 2007). It may also be important to encourage learners to be adaptive in terms of the cultures of learning that they have already internalized through their L1 repertoires.
Various techniques have been proposed with a view to improving learners’ reading comprehension. For instance, multisensory techniques have been widely used, and they involve visual, musical, kinetic, and tactile elements (Gorjian, Alipour & Saffarian, 2012). One way to test the effectiveness of multisensory techniques is through reading comprehension tests. Another suggestion is Comic strips, which have been found to have a far-reaching impact on EFL (English as a Foreign Language) learners’ reading comprehension (Liu, 2004). Using comic strips, low-level students can perform better in terms of their reading comprehension of high-level text. However, this approach may not be appropriate for high-level students, whose performance on their reading comprehension of high-level text tends not to show any remarkable level of improvement (Liu, 2004). Nevertheless, the use of comic strips provides a basis for pedagogical discussion as well as a review of different theoretical models relating to reading comprehension.
The most widely used strategy is one that entails simply reading a lot in both L1 and L2 in an effort to improve reading skills. This approach is normally preferred in situations where learners do not want to rely too much on unorthodox teaching strategies that are yet to be entrenched into the language instruction curriculum (Hayashi, 2000). Hayashi (2000) supports the idea of extensive reading in both L1 and L2 because it improves learners’ reading skills. It also gives learners crucial background knowledge, high motivation for increased reading, and enhanced vocabulary recognition. Essentially, learners end up gaining basic skills for rapid reading. In this process, they end up discovering new reading strategies by themselves. Moreover, they gain more accuracy in guessing the right meanings of lexical items based on context.
In today’s digital world, one place through which EFL learners can gain exposure to new reading strategies is the internet. Online reading strategies are increasingly being used to promote proficiency levels of EFL learners. Many reading comprehension gains are said to have occurred through online reading programs that are specially designed to help EFL learners overcome reading comprehension difficulties (Huang, Chern & Lin, 2009). However, learners should refrain from exclusive dependence on these strategies because they may easily drive them into neglecting the traditional reading comprehension strategies that have been proven to improve EFL learners’ proficiency especially when it comes to more challenging texts. Lower-proficiency students may benefit more from online reading strategies than higher-proficiency learners (Akyela & Erçetin, 2009; Shang, 2010). This is simply because progress in advanced levels of EFL reading comprehension requires meticulous explanations that are best provided in the traditional classroom settings as well as real-world use of target language norms.
Metacognitive knowledge is also increasingly being relied on to improve reading comprehension. Learners’ metacognitive knowledge, as well as awareness of reading strategies, greatly influences their level of improvement in terms of FL (foreign language) proficiency (Sheorey & Mokhtari, 2001). Previous research provides important insights for educational practices that can benefit EFL learners (Singhal, 2001; Liu, Chen & Chang, 2010; Salataci & Akyel, 2002). Going forward, more research needs to be directed towards dealing with the problem of input-poor environments in which the learners operate (Zhang, 2001). Zhang and Wu (2009) suggested that this concept should be analyzed using three strategies: global strategies, problem-solving strategies, and support strategies, all of which have been found to have a positive impact on learners’ proficiency. Global and problem-solving strategies are appropriate for high-proficiency and intermediate-proficiency groups while support strategies should be used in situations involving low-proficiency groups. Zhang and Wu (2009) generated these findings in order to highlight the unique pedagogical implications of metacognitive knowledge on today’s changing Chinese society.
The problem of the input-poor environment for EFL learners has generated debate on the need to modify input through simplification and elaboration. The choice between these two approaches may depend on several factors, including the EFL learner’s level of proficiency and the level of comprehension being targeted by the teacher. Teachers may seek to promote inferential, specific, or general comprehension depending on their choice of teaching strategy and learners’ proficiency levels (Oh, 2001). According to Oh (2001), modification by elaboration is better than by simplification because the former promotes greater gains in terms of the acquisition of native-like qualities among EFL learners, thereby improving reading comprehension.
Another approach entails enhancing the learning environment technologically. According to Dreyer & Nel (2003), learners who use this approach in their pursuit of mastery of EFL reading comprehension end up receiving practically and statistically higher scores in reading comprehension measures than those who refrain from using this approach. For this reason, Dreyer & Nel (2003) urge learners facing reading comprehension difficulties to use technology to enhance their reading skills. Dreyer & Nel (2003) specifically highlights the plight of underprepared university education applications, who must prepare for tertiary-level studies by enrolling for EFL classes. Such learners’ experiences in those EFL classes are normally characterized by intense pressure and fear of failure. The use of technological tools to increase reading speed and comprehension can be an ideal way of dealing with the intense pressure that comes with high social expectations, the need to pass pre-university language tests, and negative attitudes towards the target language. This is because these tools enable learners to use visual, musical, kinetic, and tactile elements to improve their reading comprehension (Gorjian, Alipour & Saffarian, 2012).
One commonly-studied technology-oriented strategy in reading comprehension is Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) (Tozcu & Coady, 2004). This approach is beneficial not just for reading comprehension but also for direct vocabulary learning as well as the speed with which learners recognize words. This technology leads to a rapid decrease in the reaction time of learners whenever they come across vocabulary items that may not seem familiar at first glance (Tozcu & Coady, 2004). Fukkink, Hulstijn and Simis (2005) point out that it is possible for learners to automatize their access to L2 lexical items through training on word recognition skills. Research on training in aspects of word recognition skills shows that learners’ lexical access becomes faster for words on which training has been provided than for words on which no training has been provided (Fukkink, Hulstijn & Simis, 2005). Moreover, access to lexical items becomes more automatic as learners continue to receive training on word recognition skills. However, it may be necessary for researchers to conduct follow-up studies in this area for purposes of clarification (Fukkink, Hulstijn & Simis, 2005).
Anderson (2003) also contributes to the idea of adopting technology to improve reading comprehension by investigating the various online reading strategies that ESL learners use and the extent to which these strategies differ from those of EFL learners. Anderson (2003) found out that the choice of online reading strategies differed depending on the level of reading proficiency among the learners. Advanced-proficiency ESL and EFL learners used global reading strategies and problem-solving strategies while low-proficiency ESL and EFL learners relied primarily on support strategies (Anderson, 2003). However, the number of EFL learners using support strategies was by far higher than their ESL counterparts using the same online reading strategy.
An equally beneficial proposition entails the use of computer-assisted approaches for mapping learning strategies aimed at improving English reading comprehension among EFL learners (Liu, Chen & Chang, 2010; Schmitt, Jiang & Grabe, 2011). This approach benefits learner groups with lower proficiency levels more compared to those with higher proficiency levels. Variations in the level of efficacy of computer-assisted approaches for lower-proficiency and higher-proficiency ESL learners have been found to exist. Additionally, this approach enhances other reading strategies that EFL learners normally use, which include enforcing, listing, and reviewing (Liu, Chen & Chang, 2010). Thus, computer-assisted strategies should be given a lot of attention by researchers with a view to highlighting the specific ways in which they can be used to deal with EFL learners’ reading comprehension difficulties.
This study uses evidence-based on a research method in which various studies relating to the study are identified, analyzed, and critiqued. The researcher will provide commentary on these findings by clarifying points of agreement and disagreement in an attempt to end up with findings that may be able to answer questions of the current study. The exploratory data collection method has been chosen because it involves the analysis of past literature on the selected topic. The data that will be collected will help the researcher in determining whether the evidence provided is justified or not (Norris & Ortega, 2006). The results of the study will be evaluated according to the literature that will be analyzed. The study will wind up by the conclusion supported by the study verdicts made by different researchers. On this basis, solid facts relating to the statement of the problem of this study will be disclosed. This research method will expectedly endow the researchers with practical and helpful data to assemble the objectives of this study effectively and generate concrete findings and recommendations.
In terms of the conceptual framework, it is worthwhile to not that no one is born knowing how to read. One must learn how to read well in order to achieve academic and professional success. EFL students, particularly, need to develop reading skills that can enable them to comprehend English communication skills. The reading skills can also enable the learners to gain insights into the best ways of giving appropriate replies during interactions, both oral and written.
The main reading strategies that form a core part of this paper’s conceptual framework include previewing, contextualizing, visualizing, asking questions, summarizing, skimming, and scanning. Previewing the text is an important task to do before starting any reading. It eliminates many problems that a reader may have in his reading. The reader gets an idea about what he is going to read whenever he begins by previewing the text first. Contextualizing entails putting the text in a specific context, thereby making it easy to read. Visualizing requires the ability by the learner to capture the image of the text in his mind as opposed to learning that text by words. Asking questions can also increase the ability of the reader to understand the text he is reading, such that he gets an idea of what the topic is and how to go about reading it.
On the other hand, summarizing the topic is a great way of increasing the reading capability of a reader. If the reader summarizes the topic after reading it, then he knows beforehand whether he understand the topic properly or not. Skimming is also a great way to increase the knowledge and make it easy for an EFL learner to read related texts in the future simply because he gains knowledge on the text in advance. Lastly, scanning is a strategy in which the learner gets seeks to get in-depth knowledge of the text that he is reading. This in-depth knowledge is normally acquired through the repetitive reading of the text, a strategy that also makes it easy for the student to understand the text.
Reading research in L2 fields has shown that reading strategies can be taught to students to enhance student performance on tests of comprehension and recall (Carrell, 1989). Although these studies have claimed the positive effect of reading strategy training in EFL, there have been relatively few studies investigating the effects of reading strategy training on students’ reading ability in an ongoing EFL college reading classroom situation. The results of this study provide support for the educational value of strategy training in EFL reading class. From this study, it was found that EFL students’ overall reading comprehension ability was significantly improved after the training (Pearson, 1991).
It emerges that the idea of strategy training can be of much benefit to EFL learners who continue to face problems with reading comprehension difficulties, particularly automaticity (Dandan, 2002; Gorsuch & Taguchi, 2008; Dreyer & Nel, 2003; Hayashi, 2000). Alyousef (2006) has explained what automaticity is and how it is linked to the learner’s processing capacity. Since this concept has been linked to reading comprehension difficulties, it is important to incorporate it into strategy training. The same case applies to problems arising from vocabulary retention. Research shows that in both the problems of automaticity and vocabulary retention, it is important to use training strategies that are founded on a metacognitive approach (Justice, 2006). Metacognition involves higher-order thinking in which learners retain control over all the cognitive processes influencing learning such as how to approach learning tasks, how to monitor comprehension and ways of evaluating progress towards the successful completion of tasks. Justice (2006) encourages the use of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) by school communities to enable them to entrench appropriate metacognitive training approaches using evidence-based perspectives. This approach can particularly be beneficial because it emphasizes on preventive interventions.
The problem of the influence of prior knowledge has also been identified in research (Lin, 2002). Yang (2002) points out that this problem can best be solved by providing instruction on basic language knowledge before engaging in comprehension monitoring. As readers become more proficient, they spend more time monitoring their comprehension of words that they may not have already come across (Yang, 2002). Thus, it is counterproductive for teachers to pay too much attention to reading comprehension yet learners are able to do that on their own. Rather, teachers should spend more time providing instruction on basic knowledge of the target language. Moreover, this kind of instruction provides the impetus for teachers to intervene whenever less proficient learners encounter difficulties in their reading activities. This kind of training can also help learners to avoid the negative effects of prior language on the cognitive process of acquiring the new language (Lin, 2002).
The tendency to replace linguistic knowledge with sociocultural and conceptual knowledge as linguistic competence increases has also been pointed out as a major source of reading comprehension difficulties. In this regard, Yang’s (2002) suggestions on providing as much instruction as possible on basic language knowledge in the formative stages of language acquisition are also applicable. This is simply because learners need to obtain as much linguistic information on the target language as they can while they are most capable of doing so. The best time to acquire this knowledge is during the earliest stages of EFL learning. As they get used to targeting language norms, their focus shifts from linguistic elements to sociocultural and conceptual knowledge. Providing adequate training on target language norms at the earliest opportune moment will enable EFL learners to get prepared to tackle reading comprehension difficulties that may arise in the future. This instructional training provides domain-specific knowledge to EFL learners, which can be used to improve overall reading comprehension performance (Carrett et al., 2009).
Lack of peer interaction during the early phases of the EFL reading program also contributes to reading comprehension difficulties among EFL learners (Lan, Sung & Chang, 2007). The findings of this study show that technology-based training offers prospects for the enhancement of interaction levels for low-proficiency EFL learners (Dreyer & Nel, 2003; Tozcu & Coady, 2004; Anderson, 2003; Liu, Chen & Chang, 2010). A lot of emphasis in research is on the role that technology, specifically computer-based tools, play in promoting reading comprehension. There is consensus among that if properly used, these tools enhance EFL learners’ reading comprehension. In this regard, the debate touches on different issues, from online reading strategies and multisensory techniques to online collaboration and computer-aided word recognition skills (Huang, Chern & Lin, 2009; Tozcu & Coady, 2004; Gorjian, Alipour & Saffarian, 2012; Lan, Sung & Chang, 2007; Fukkink, Hulstijn and Simis, 2005). However, variations in the level of efficacy of computer-assisted approaches for lower-proficiency and higher-proficiency ESL learners have been found to exist. Researchers seem to have come up with conflicting findings regarding the usefulness of these approaches for these two categories of learners (Taguchi, Takayasu-Maass & Gorsuch, 2004; Ikeda & Takeuchi, 2006; Zhang, 2008; Zhang and Wu, 2009).
A specific technological tool worth examining in this section is Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL). CALL has been used successfully to enhance reading comprehension by helping learners to increase their speed of word recognition (Tozcu & Coady, 2004). Tozcu & Coady (2004) conducted a study to test the effectiveness of Tutorial CALL to determine how it could help students become better in terms of reading comprehension. The study’s findings showed that students who used this tool were able to learn a larger number of words compared to those in the control group. Students using this tool also exhibited a significant reduction in reaction time whenever they encountered frequently-occurring new words after using this tool. Empirical research on the impact of computer-assisted training on other reading strategies should be conducted. The reading strategies that researchers should focus on including comic strips (Liu, 2004), multisensory techniques (Gorjian, Alipour & Saffarian, 2012), the use of L1 glosses (Cheng & Good, 2009), and automatized access to L2 lexical items (Liou, 2000).
Based on the review of literature as well as findings and analysis, this paper makes the following recommendations.
- Further research needs to be directed towards dealing with the problem of input-poor environments in which the learners operate. Researchers should investigate the various ways in which learners can overcome the challenge of limited access to the linguistic norms of the target language with a view to enhance their level of reading comprehension.
- Further research on training on word recognition skills is required. This paper has shed light on the use of computer-aided strategies to enhance word recognition skills by EFL learners. Researchers should analyze emerging technologies to determine their effectiveness in enabling EFL learners to achieve significant progress in their reading comprehension in general and word recognition skills in particular. This will enable EFL teachers to know which technologies to adopt and which ones to drop.
- The use of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) to offer training on reading comprehension should be encouraged. This is because their approach is in line with metacognitive training strategies, which have been found to offer teachers and learners insights into ways of addressing the problems of automaticity and vocabulary retention.
- EFL teachers should spend a lot of time on providing instruction on basic language knowledge before engaging in comprehension monitoring. This is because EFL learners first and foremost need to be exposed to as much EFL linguistic content as possible during the early stages of EFL learning. This is because learners tend to shift from linguistic components to sociocultural components of the target language towards the advanced stages of EFL learning.
- Reading comprehension monitoring should be promoted as it provides the only reliable avenue through which EFL teachers can assess the progress of their students. The level of progress among EFL learners greatly determines the kind of training that they should be subjected to in order to enable them to reach their EFL targets.
- Glossing is an ideal way of dealing with EFL reading comprehension difficulties. The fact that many researchers have examined this issue is an indication of the central role it plays in reading comprehension. An in-depth understanding of the role of L1 and L2 glosses should be promoted with a view to acquaint teachers with a training approach that can contribute to improved outcomes in terms of reading comprehension. The use of glosses should also be encouraged since it is strongly associated with other aspects of EFL reading comprehension such as reading interest, EFL test difficulty, vocabulary acquisition, and readability. Apart from providing learners with essential knowledge on the lexicon of the target language, glossing should be used as a way of facilitating bottom-up processing, thereby enabling EFL learners to make correct inferences.
- Teachers of EFL should not underrate the influence of prior knowledge is a major cause of reading comprehension difficulties. To counteract the effect of this knowledge, they should provide as much baseline linguistic information on the target language as possible. This information acts as an important reference once EFL learners being trained on how to use L1 and L2 glosses during reading activities.
- Empirical research on the impact of computer-assisted training on other reading strategies should be conducted. The reading strategies that researchers should focus on in this undertaking include comic strips, multisensory techniques, the use of L1 glosses, and automatized access to L2 lexical items. They should investigate the various ways in which these strategies can be incorporated into existing computer-assisted training approaches. Furthermore, researchers should evaluate the effectiveness of each of the strategies in the context of computer-assisted approaches to determine which ones are beneficial to EFL learners and which ones are not. Those tools that pose challenges for reading comprehension should be redesigned to make them concomitant with the training needs of EFL learners.
- Differences in proficiency levels should be addressed in research because they pose a serious challenge to both EFL teachers and learners. The reading comprehension difficulties that have already been highlighted in research may not be properly addressed unless teachers are equipped with the right framework that they can use as a basis for making decisions on which training approach to use with EFL learners belonging to a specific proficiency category. This implies that greater specificity is required in defining (in linguistic terms) what it means for an EFL learner to have a lower or higher level of proficiency.
- Researchers need to work towards building consensus on the efficacy of various computer-assisted approaches for providing reading comprehension training EFL learners of varying proficiency levels. This will enable teachers to target different learners with specific training tools that meet their specific learning needs.
Researchers agree that reading comprehension difficulties pose a serious challenge to EFL learners. They also agree that reading training can help EFL learners become more proficient in reading comprehension. Researchers have also reached a consensus regarding a number of factors that lead to these difficulties, the main ones of which include lack of comprehension strategy training, differences in proficiency levels, and input-poor environments. In-Depth knowledge of cognitive and metacognitive strategies is also widely recognized as an ideal way of enhancing reading comprehension among EFL learners.
Researchers are not in agreement on how to deal with differences in proficiency levels among EFL learners. The consensus in these areas is critical because it will greatly influence the choice of tools to be used to train EFL learners on how to make progress in vocabulary retention, word recognition, and reading comprehension. Moreover, researchers seem to discuss the issue of proficiency-based on two categories: lower-proficiency and higher-proficiency EFL learners. This dichotomy is potentially misleading because of the abstract nature of the very idea of linguistic proficiency.
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