Research-Driven Pedagogy: Implications of L2A Theory and Research for the Teaching of Language Skills [1 ed.] 1138487422, 9781138487420

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Research-Driven Pedagogy: Implications of L2A Theory and Research for the Teaching of Language Skills [1 ed.]
 1138487422, 9781138487420

Table of contents :
Half Title
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of contents
1 Introduction
1 Summary of Basic Theories and Their Implications for the Learning of Each Skill
2 Critical Review of Salient/Current Research about Each Skill
3 Description of Commonly Used Data Collection and Analysis Techniques in Researching Each Skill
4 Summary of Specific Pedagogical Implications of Pertinent Research
5 Theory-/Research-Driven Scenarios and Activities to Teach Each Skill
2 Teaching and Researching Listening Skills: Theory- and Research-Based Practices
1 Introduction
2 Theories Related to L2 Listening
2.1 Theories of L2 Listening Purposes, Mental Processing, and Difficulties
2.2 Theories of Metacognitive Awareness and Strategic Self-Regulation for L2 Listening
2.3 Theories of Listening-Related Technology, Nonverbal Communication, and Pragmatics
2.4 Other Relevant Listening Theories
3 A Critical Review of Individual Studies with Implications for Teaching
3.1 Two Studies of Multiple Learner Factors in L2 Listening
3.2 A Study of L2 Listening Strategies of Young Learners
3.3 Two Studies of Metacognition for L2 Listening
3.4 Three Studies of Relationships between Vocabulary and L2 Listening
3.5 A Study on L2 Listening Fluency with Different Input Modes
3.6 A Diary Study of Metacognitive Regulation of L2 Listening and Speaking
4 Summary of L2 Pedagogical Implications Based on the Research
5 Theory- and Research-Driven Activities to Teach L2 Listening
3 Theory-Guided Reading Instruction in Second-Language Classrooms
1 Introduction
2 Theories about Reading and Language Learning
2.1 The Top-Down Perspective
2.2 The Bottom-Up Perspective
2.3 The Interactive Perspective
2.4 The Role of Linguistic Knowledge in Reading
2.4.1 Word Form Analysis
2.4.2 Word Meaning Retrieval
2.4.3 Word Meaning Integration
2.5 Implications for L2 Reading Research
3 Review of Current Research
3.1 Selection Criteria
3.2 The Relative Contributions of L1 Reading and L2 Linguistic Knowledge
3.3 The Long-Term Effects of L1 Resources on L2 Reading Development
3.4 The Role of L2 Linguistic Knowledge in the Use of L1 Resources
4 Specific Pedagogical Implications
5 The Reading to Learn Approach: A Theory-Guided Pedagogy in L2 Classrooms
5.1 Implementation Site
5.2 The Impact of the Approach on L2 Learning
5.3 The Impact of the Approach on L2 Learning
6 The Utility of Theory in Practice
4 Teaching and Researching Speaking Skills: Theory- and Research-Based Practices
1 Introduction
2 Theories about Speaking Skills and Their Implications for Learning
2.1 Knowledge Involved in Speaking
2.2 Processes Involved in Speaking
2.3 Skill Acquisition Theory
2.4 Pedagogical Implications
3 A Critical Review of Current Research
3.1 Comprehensive Approach
3.2 Knowledge-Oriented Research
3.3 Processing-Oriented Research
4 Summary of Specific Pedagogical Implications
4.1 General Implications
4.2 Specific Implications
5 Theory- and Research-Driven Methods and Activities to Teach Speaking
5 Teaching L2 Writing: Connecting SLA Theory, Research, and Pedagogy
1 Introduction
2 A Summary of Basic Theories and Their Implications for Learning and Teaching Writing
2.1 Usage-Based Approaches
2.2 Sociocultural Theory
2.3 Skill Acquisition Theory
2.4 Pedagogical Implications
3 Review of Current Research
3.1 Language Chunks
3.2 Genre-Focused Studies
3.3 Collaborative Writing
3.4 Corrective Feedback
4 Summary of Specific Pedagogical Implications
5 Theory and Research-Driven Activities to Teach Writing
6 Teaching and Researching Grammar Skills: Theory- and Research-Based Practices
1 Introduction
2 Theories about Grammar and Their Implications for Learning and Teaching
2.1 Traditional Grammar
2.2 Behaviorism
2.3 Generative Linguistics
2.4 Functional Grammar
2.5 Constructivism
2.6 Sociocultural Theory
2.7 Emergent Grammar/Usage-Based/Cognitive Linguistics/Construction Grammar
2.8 Implicit and Explicit Grammar Learning and Teaching
2.9 The Question of the Interface between Explicit and Implicit Knowledge of Grammar
2.10 Corrective Feedback
3 A Review of Selected Research Articles
3.1 A Sampling of Practices Associated with Recent Theories
3.1.1 Collaborative Dialogues
3.1.2 Data-Driven Learning
3.1.3 Input Processing
3.1.4 Statistical Learning
3.2 Implicit–Explicit Distinction
3.2.1 With Different Input Conditions
3.2.2 Explicit L1 Guidance
3.2.3 Do Learner Differences Apply When It Comes to Implicit and Explicit Learning?
3.3 Corrective Feedback
3.3.1 Intensive versus Extensive Recasts
3.3.2 Analogical Recasts
3.4 Electrophysiological Brain Activity and Cognitive Processing
4 Summary
5 Grammar Learning and Teaching from a Complexity Theory Perspective
7 Pedagogical Implications of Current SLA Research for Vocabulary Skills
1 Introduction
2 Theories of Vocabulary Knowledge and Their Implications for Vocabulary Teaching and Learning
2.1 Vocabulary Knowledge: What Does It Mean to Know a Word?
2.2 Implications: Principles of Powerful Vocabulary Instruction
3 Review of 10 Salient Articles
3.1 Incidental Vocabulary Learning
3.2 Incidental Vocabulary Learning versus Integrated and Isolated Vocabulary Instruction
3.3 Receptive versus Productive Tasks in Vocabulary Instruction
3.4 Role of Involvement in Vocabulary Instruction
3.5 Role of L1 and Visual Scaffolding in Vocabulary Instruction
3.6 Technology Use in Vocabulary Instruction
4 Specific Pedagogical Implications
4.1 Summary of General Pedagogical Implications
8 Teaching and Researching Pronunciation Skills: Theory- and Research-Based Practices
1 Introduction
2 Theories about Pronunciation and Their Implications for Learning
2.1 The Traditional (Phoneme-Based) Perspective
2.2 The Global View (Holistic/Discourse-Based)
2.3 Mutual Intelligibility versus Accuracy View
2.4 Pedagogical Implications
3 A Critical Review of Current Research
3.1 Multiple Components
3.2 Voice-Setting Components
3.3 Segmental Components
3.4 Prosodic Components
3.5 Analytic Reviews
4 Summary of Specific Pedagogical Implications
4.1 General Implications
4.2 Specific Implications
5 Theory- and Research-Driven Activities to Teach Pronunciation
9 Teaching and Researching Nonverbal Communication Skills: Theory- and Research-Based Practices
1 Introduction
2 Theories on Nonverbal Communication and Their Implications for Learning Additional Languages
2.1 The Communication Triad: Links among the Verbal, Paraverbal, and Nonverbal
2.2 The Benefits of Communication Triad Awareness
2.3 The Affective Benefits of Triad Awareness
2.4 The Cognitive Benefits of Triad Awareness
3 A Critical View of Current Research
3.1 Communicative Aspects
3.2 Affective Aspects
3.3 Cognitive Aspects
4 Pedagogical Implications
5 Theory- and Research-Driven Activities to Teach Nonverbal Acuity
5.1 Explicit Compensatory Strategy Training for Language Learners
5.2 Ideas to Increase Learners’ Comprehension and Add Authenticity
5.3 Ideas to Enhance Instruction and Assess What Learners Really Know
5.4 Embodied Practices to Promote Effective Cognitive Processes
5.5 Small Group Configurations for Enhancing ZPDs via Non/paraverbal Communication
6 Conclusion
10 Teaching and Researching Pragmatics and Willingness to Communicate Skills: Theory- and Research-Based Practices
1 Introduction
2 WTC Theory
3 Review of the Research
3.1 WTC Article Summaries
3.1.1 L1 Studies
3.1.2 L2 Studies
4 Pedagogical Implications
5 Methods to Assess WTC
6 An Action Plan for Capitalizing on WTC in Teaching Activities
7 Conclusion
11 Conclusions and Future Directions

Citation preview



Research-​Driven Pedagogy:  Implications of L2A Theory and Research for the Teaching of Language Skills brings together the essentials of second language acquisition (SLA) theory, research, and second language (L2) pedagogy. Uniquely, the design of this book helps researchers and practitioners make explicit connections between theory, research, and practice; learn about and conduct classroom research to contribute to the relevance and applicability of SLA research; and improve current L2 curriculum and instruction in light of current theory and research. This volume offers critical reviews of the most relevant, current SLA theory and research about receptive, productive, complementary, and nonverbal communication skills, as well as willingness to communicate (WTC). Each chapter is formatted to include five major topics about each language skill: (1) major theories, (2) critical reviews of salient/​current research, (3) commonly used data collection and analysis techniques, (4)  summary of specific pedagogical implications of pertinent research and theory, and (5) theory and research-​driven scenarios/​activities that can be used in teaching. A teacher or a researcher can pick any chapter in this volume to learn about the most important language skills (e.g., reading, writing, nonverbal communication), while having all-​in-​one-​place access to almost everything they would need. Nihat Polat is a professor in the Department of Instruction and Leadership at Duquesne University, USA. Tammy Gregersen is a professor of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. Peter D.  MacIntyre is a professor of psychology at Cape Breton University, Canada.



RESEARCH-​DRIVEN PEDAGOGY Implications of L2A Theory and Research for the Teaching of Language Skills Edited by Nihat Polat, Tammy Gregersen, and Peter D. MacIntyre


First published 2020 by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 and by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4RN Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2020 Taylor & Francis The right of Nihat Polat, Tammy Gregersen and Peter D. MacIntyre to be identified as the authors of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-​in-​Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-​in-​Publication Data A catalog record for this title has been requested ISBN: 978-​1-​138-​48742-​0  (hbk) ISBN: 978-​1-​138-​48743-​7  (pbk) ISBN: 978-​1-​351-​04328-​1  (ebk) Typeset in Times New Roman by Newgen Publishing UK



List of Contributors 1 Introduction Nihat Polat, Tammy Gregersen, and Peter D. MacIntyre

vii 1

2 Teaching and Researching Listening Skills: Theory-​and Research-​Based Practices Rebecca Oxford


3 Theory-​Guided Reading Instruction in Second-​Language Classrooms Keiko Koda


4 Teaching and Researching Speaking Skills: Theory-​and Research-​Based Practices Jimin Kahng


5 Teaching L2 Writing: Connecting SLA Theory, Research, and Pedagogy Charlene Polio and Matt Kessler


6 Teaching and Researching Grammar Skills: Theory-​and Research-​Based Practices Diane Larsen-​Freeman



vi Contents

7 Pedagogical Implications of Current SLA Research for Vocabulary Skills Yuliya Ardasheva, Tao Hao, and Xue Zhang


8 Teaching and Researching Pronunciation Skills: Theory-​and Research-​Based Practices Laura Mahalingappa and Nihat Polat


9 Teaching and Researching Nonverbal Communication Skills: Theory-​and Research-​Based Practices Tammy Gregersen and Peter D. MacIntyre


10 Teaching and Researching Pragmatics and Willingness to Communicate Skills: Theory-​and Research-​Based Practices Peter D. MacIntyre, Samantha Ayers-​Glassey, and Tammy Gregersen


11 Conclusions and Future Directions Peter D. MacIntyre, Tammy Gregersen, and Nihat Polat








Editors Nihat Polat is a professor in the Department of Instruction and Leadership at

Duquesne University. He teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses in the areas of L2 learning, teaching and assessment, teacher education, and the education of immigrant and minority populations in K-​12 schools. He has published two books and more than 25 peer-​reviewed journal articles, among others. His book titled L2 Learning, Teaching, and Assessment:  A Comprehensible Input Perspective was published by Multilingual Matters. He also recently coauthored (with Laura Mahalingappa and Terri Rodriguez) a book titled Supporting Muslim Students:  A Guide to Understanding the Diverse Issues of Today’s Classrooms (Rowman and Littlefield). He is a consulting editor for the Journal of Educational Research. Tammy Gregersen, a professor of TESOL at the American University of

Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, received her MA in education and her PhD in linguistics in Chile, where she also began her academic career. She is a coauthor, with Peter MacIntyre, of Capitalizing on Language Learner Individuality and Optimizing Language Learners’ Nonverbal Communication in the Language Classroom. She is also a coeditor, with Peter MacIntyre and Sarah Mercer, of Positive Psychology in SLA and Innovations in Language Teacher Education. She has published extensively in peer-​reviewed journals and contributed numerous chapters in applied linguistics anthologies on individual differences, teacher education, language teaching methodology, positive psychology, and nonverbal communication in language classrooms. She is passionate about exploring other cultures and has enjoyed the


viii Contributors

opportunities that participation in international conferences around the world and Fulbright scholar grants to Chile and Costa Rica have provided. Peter D. MacIntyre is a professor of psychology at Cape Breton University.

His research focuses on the psychology of language and communication. He has published more than 100 articles and chapters on language anxiety, willingness to communicate, motivation, and other topics. He has coauthored or coedited books on topics including positive psychology in SLA, motivational dynamics, nonverbal communication, teaching innovations, and capitalizing on language learner individuality. His awards include recognition for teaching excellence (Atlantic Association of Universities), the Gardner Award (International Association for Language and Social Psychology), and the Mildenberger Prize (Modern Language Association) for contributions to the study of language.

Chapter Authors Yuliya Ardasheva is an assistant professor of English as a second language/​

bilingual education (ESL/​BL) at Washington State University. Her research focuses on (a) ESL/​BL teacher preparation; (b) the interplay between second language and academic development, with an emphasis on technical and academic vocabulary; and (c) individual differences. She has recently served as an editorial board member and as a special issue guest editor for TESOL Journal. Yuliya has contributed book chapters to such volumes as The Routledge Handbook of Research Methods in Applied Linguistics (Routledge, 2020) and Teaching Science to English Language Learners:  Preparing Pre-​ service and In-​service Teachers (Palgrave Macmillan). Samantha Ayers-​Glassey is a fourth-​year psychology student at Cape Breton

University, completing her undergraduate BSc degree. She is currently employed as a research assistant for Dr. Peter MacIntyre, working on second language acquisition and willingness to communicate. Her general research interests include motivational psychology, nutrition, and sports sciences. Outside of the university, Samantha works as a certified personal trainer at her local YMCA and as a trained master-​level swim coach –​interests she hopes to incorporate into future research. Tao Hao is currently pursuing her PhD in language, literacy, and technology

at Washington State University, where she is working as a graduate assistant for the graduate school review and assessment program. Her current research interests include (a) computer-​assisted language learning, with an emphasis




Contributors  ix

on vocabulary; (b) second language acquisition; and (c) meta-​analysis. Tao has taught Japanese, Chinese, and English across age groups and second and foreign language contexts. She has presented her work at such venues as the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and TESOL conferences. Jimin Kahng is an assistant professor of applied linguistics in the Department

of Modern Languages at the University of Mississippi. She earned her PhD in second language studies at Michigan State University. Her research centers on the development of oral proficiency in second language (L2). She is interested in how L2 oral language is acquired, how instruction can facilitate L2 oral language development, and how the development of L2 oral language can be measured accurately and appropriately. Her current primary area of research is the development of cognitive, utterance, and perceived fluency in a second language. Matt Kessler is a PhD student in the second language studies program at

Michigan State University, where he serves as a teaching/​research assistant and as an assistant to the editors of TESOL Quarterly. Matt’s research interests center around second language writing and writing development, particularly students’ learning of academic and professional genres. Additional research interests include computer-​assisted language learning and exploring research–​pedagogy links in second language acquisition. Keiko Koda is a professor of second language acquisition and Japanese in

the Department of Modern Languages at Carnegie Mellon University. Her research interests include second language reading and biliteracy development. Currently, she is involved in several studies addressing cross-​linguistic variation in reading acquisition of bilingual children and text comprehension development of adult foreign language learners in typologically diverse languages. Diane Larsen-​Freeman is Professor Emerita of Education and Linguistics,

Research Scientist Emerita, and the former director of the English Language Institute at the University of Michigan. She is also Professor Emerita at the Graduate SIT Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont, and a visiting senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. Her recent books are Complex Systems and Applied Linguistics (2008, with L.  Cameron), winner of the MLA’s Kenneth Mildenberger Book Prize; the third edition of Techniques and Principles (2011, with M. Anderson); and the third edition of The Grammar Book, Form, Meaning, and Use for English Language Teachers (2015, with M. Celce-​Murcia).



x Contributors

Laura Mahalingappa is an associate professor in the M.S. Ed. in English as a

Second Language program at Duquesne University. Her teaching and research interests include first and second language acquisition, sociolinguistics, and teacher education. She has published a book and numerous research articles in journals like Language Learning and Technology, Language and Education, Action in Teacher Education, etc. on bilingual language acquisition in marginalized language communities, teachers’ beliefs about teaching linguistically and culturally diverse populations, and the education of Muslim students. She has taught English in the United States, Turkey, and the former Soviet Union. Rebecca Oxford’s Lifetime Achievement Award states that her learning

strategy research “changed the way the world teaches languages.” She is currently working on empathic listening, peacebuilding, complexity of emotion regulation and engagement, and transformative learning. Eight of her published books are on language teaching and learning strategies, and six are on peacebuilding, educational transformation, spirituality, and culture. Her next book (with Olivero and Gregersen) is Peacebuilding in Language Education:  Innovations in Theory and Practice. Oxford is University of Maryland Distinguished Scholar-​Teacher and Professor Emerita. Charlene Polio is a professor in the Department of Linguistics and Germanic,

Slavic, Asian, and African Languages at Michigan State University. Her main area of research is second language writing with a focus on the various research methods and measures used in studying L2 writing as well as the interface between the fields of L2 writing and second language acquisition. She is the coeditor of TESOL Quarterly and past associate editor of the Modern Language Journal. Her recent books include Understanding, Evaluating, and Conducting Second Language Writing Research (Routledge, with Debra Friedman) and Authentic Materials Myths (Michigan, with Eve Zyzik). Xue Zhang holds a PhD from the Washington State University Language,

Literacy, and Technology program. Her research interests revolve around English learners (ELs) and center on (a)  contributions of individual differences to second language development and (b) task engagement. Her dissertation, “Self-​Efficacy and English Public Speaking,” examined the unique contributions of self-​efficacy, its sources, and language proficiency to English public speaking performance of Chinese college ELs. She is currently a Co-​PI on a grant investigating an evidence-​based model of EL task engagement. Xue is a contributing author to the forthcoming The Routledge Handbook of Research Methods in Applied Linguistics.




1 INTRODUCTION Nihat Polat, Tammy Gregersen, and Peter D. MacIntyre

We approach this volume with the core belief that the importance of research lies in its impact on improving the lives of people. Research on second language acquisition (L2A), development, and curriculum and instruction shares this fundamental purpose. Simply put, as researchers, we study learning and teaching-​related phenomena to understand how people can use our findings to improve curriculum and instruction. To achieve this goal, first, we consider theory, research, and pedagogy to be essentially inseparably intertwined. Adopting such an approach as the starting point helps with being more mindful of the explicit pedagogical implications of our work. Second, if it does indeed take the whole village, we must build reciprocal connections between the research and practice communities so that the practitioners are not just consumers but also active contributors to the advancement of the field by engaging in SLA research. The purpose of this edited volume is therefore to contribute to efforts toward closing this gap, situating the so what question at the heart of teacher education, second language (L2) curriculum and instruction, and theory and research. As seemingly easy and commonsensical as this might sound, oftentimes these connections are not self-​evident. A simple examination of two sources of evidence can establish this lack of connection. First, neither the expected publication requirements nor the goals of much L2A research are guided by the so what question (pedagogical implications), lacking “specific proposals as to what features are needed for the design of optimal L2 instruction” (Ortega, 2015, p.  262). In fact, typically, of the 35-​or 40-​page research articles only around one page is devoted to pedagogical implications and occasionally those are written in a highly dense academic register, lacking


2  Nihat Polat et al.

specific directions on which the practitioners can build their curriculum and instruction. Second, it is rarely the case that L2 classroom teachers engage in inductive theory generation research and publish their findings in journals in the field. Third, to achieve this goal, we must fix our accessibility problem. As properly stated by Ellis (2010, p. 187), many teachers do not read reports of research studies perhaps because they lack the technical knowledge to make sense of them but more likely because they do not have the time needed to locate and read the reports. For this reason, if teachers do come into contact with SLA research it is via the summative (and often simplified) accounts available in books specially written for teachers. Each chapter in this volume offers practitioners an accessible (but not simplified), state-​of-​the-​art summary for each language skill. Given the goal of presenting the state of the art in key areas of the field, we envision an audience with many constituencies; nevertheless, in-​ service teachers who would like to contribute to current L2A scholarship and practice through action research are not the only target audience of this book. We believe that graduate students and researchers who work on the interconnections of theory, research, and practice in L2 learning and teaching in different contexts around the world would benefit from this anthology. As such, it is written for teacher educators and preservice teachers in L2 teacher education programs that offer methods courses that take a blended approach to the learning and teaching of L2 skills. Last but not least, this volume might also appeal to L2 curriculum designers and instructional material developers who are interested in high-​quality commercial materials and tasks and activities that are based on solid pedagogical research. This edited volume has brought together SLA theory, research, and L2 pedagogy with the goal of helping researchers and practitioners to (1) make explicit connections between SLA theory, research, and practice; (2) learn about and conduct classroom research to contribute to the relevance and applicability of SLA research; and (3)  improve current L2 curriculum and instruction in light of theory and research (enact practitioner-​scholar agency). In short, this anthology is a resource for L2 teacher educators, teacher candidates, and graduate students and researchers in the field as well as curriculum designers and instructional material developers who are interested in studying and improving L2 education in the context of intertwining theory, research, and practice. This volume makes an ambitious contribution to the teaching and learning of each L2 skill by bringing together essential information, all




Introduction  3

in one place. Each chapter is formatted to include five major topics about each language skill: (1) major theories, (2) critical reviews of salient/​current research, (3)  commonly used data collection and analysis techniques, (4) summary of specific pedagogical implications of pertinent research and theory, and (5) theory-​and research-​driven scenarios/​activities that can be used in teaching. Succinctly put, as outlined in what follows, a teacher or a researcher can pick a chapter in this volume to learn about or teach all language skills (e.g., reading, writing, nonverbal communication), while having all-​in-​one-​place access to almost everything she would need: Theory, research, pedagogical implications of theory and research, and teaching activities/​scenarios based on theory and research.

1  Summary of Basic Theories and Their Implications for the Learning of Each Skill Each chapter in this volume offers a description of basic theories and their implications for the learning of the target language skill. A summary of basic theoretical views for each language skill is provided in Table 1.1. The theoretical assumptions about the learning of any particular skill encompass a comprehensive number of factors. Not only do these factors interrelate, but they also come from numerous different fields, including linguistics, (educational) psychology, education, cultural studies, sociology, and communication studies. As outlined in Table 1.1, some of these factors relate to the nature of input (e.g., multimodal, oral, visual) or languages (cross-​linguistic influences), some emanate from affective (e.g., motivation, anxiety), cognitive (e.g., memory, aptitude), or metacognitive (e.g., beliefs, strategies) individual differences. Others factors may relate to the ecological, interactive, and instructional affordances a setting offers (e.g., instructed versus acquisition). Some of the chapters have taken a more in-​depth approach to describing the core tenets and assumptions about the learning of the target skill, while others mostly focus on the major theories with specific details. For example, in Chapter  2, Oxford offers four general perspectives (each with multiple subsections) about the learning of listening skills, and Larsen-​Freeman describes seven views (e.g., traditional, constructivist) about grammar learning in Chapter 6. However, in Chapter 10, MacIntyre, Ayers-​Glassey, and Gregersen concentrate the entire chapter on the willingness to communicate (WTC) and its attendant theory, engaging in a detailed account of the micro-​and macro-​level assumptions of this theory from an interdisciplinary perspective. Regardless of the stylistic approach, each chapter offers a solid foundation about a variety of interrelated and interdisciplinary theoretical assumptions underlying the learning of a particular L2 skill.


TABLE 1.1  Summary of major theories and research focus areas for each

language skill Skill

Major Theories

Research Focus Areas


-​ Theories of L2 listening purposes, mental processing, and difficulties -​ Theories of metacognitive awareness and strategic self-​regulation -​ Theories of L2 listening-​ related technology, nonverbal communication, and pragmatics -​ Additional listening theories from outside the L2 field -​ Top-​down perspective -​ Bottom-​up perspective -​ Interactive perspective

-​ Multiple learner factors -​ L2 listening strategies of young learners -​ Metacognition for L2 listening -​ Relationships between vocabulary and L2 listening -​ Multiple modalities to enhance L2 listening -​ L2 listening and speaking competence



-​ Communicative competence -​ Interactional competence -​ Input processing  views -​ Skill acquisition theory


-​ Usage-​based approaches -​ Sociocultural  theory -​ Skill acquisition theory


-​ Traditional  view -​ Behaviorist  view -​ Generative linguistics  view -​ Functional grammar  view -​ Constructivist  view -​ Sociocultural  view -​ Emergent grammar/​ Usage-​based/​Cognitive linguistics/​Construction grammar view

-​ Relative contributions of L1 reading and L2 linguistic knowledge -​ Long-​term effects of L1 resources on L2 reading development -​ Role of L2 linguistic knowledge in the use of L1 resources -​ Comprehensive (knowledge and processing) aspects -​ Knowledge-​oriented aspects -​ Processing-​oriented aspects -​ Language  chunks -​ Genre-​focused studies -​ Collaborative writing -​ Corrective feedback -​ Practices associated with a contemporary theory -​ Implicit–​explicit distinction -​ Provision of corrective feedback -​ Methodological innovation




Introduction  5 TABLE 1.1  (Cont.)


Major Theories

Research Focus Areas


-​ Implicit learning hypothesis -​ Incidental learning hypothesis -​ Explicit learning hypothesis


-​ Traditional (phoneme-​based)  view -​ Global view (holistic/​ discourse-​based) -​ Mutual intelligibility versus accuracy view -​ A communication triad approach (Links among the Verbal, Paraverbal, and Nonverbal channels) -​ WTC theory

-​ Incidental learning -​ Integrated/​isolated learning -​ Receptive versus productive tasks -​ Role of involvement -​ Role of L1 and visual scaffolding -​ Technology use -​ Segmental (phonemic characteristics of sounds) -​ Prosodic (stress, pitch, intonation, and rhythm, etc.) -​ Voice-​setting (articulatory characteristics of the speech) -​ Communicative (e.g., gesture) -​ Affective (e.g., emotion) -​ Cognitive benefits (e.g., thought/​processing) -​ WTC  in  L1 -​ WTC in L2

Nonverbal Communication

Willingness to Communicate

2  Critical Review of Salient/​Current Research about Each Skill A primary goal of this volume is to offer teachers the opportunity to claim and enact a practitioner-​researcher agency, contributing to the enterprise through inductive generation of new theories (or reevaluation of existing ones) and action-​research to improve current L2 curriculum and instruction. Therefore, each chapter in this anthology offers critical reviews of seminal and current L2A research about receptive (listening, reading), productive (speaking, writing), and complementary (grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation), as well as WTC and nonverbal communication skills. In doing so, each chapter also underscores important components such as “culture” and “technology” as they relate to the learning and teaching of these L2 skills. We asked that each chapter critically reviews 10 of the most salient research articles on the learning and teaching of the target skill. Each article included in the critical reviews was purposefully selected by chapter contributors from top research journals in the field. Some were included due to their seminal impact on research in the field, unique contributions to research on a specific aspect of the target skill, frequent citation, or use as framework of reference in curriculum and instruction, while others were selected because of


6  Nihat Polat et al.

their innovative methodological orientation, or setting (e.g., different L1s, or K-​12 versus adult learners). To ensure consistency and maximize benefits for readers, all chapter authors follow the same format in organizing their reviews. Each chapter includes a summative table, with four columns, specifically outlining the source (e.g., Larsen-​ Walker, 2017), focus (e.g., data-​ driven learning of English linking adverbials), context (e.g., 24 university students in the United States enrolled in an English for academic purposes writing course), and methodology (e.g., quasi-​experimental design, with pre-​and posttests, based on the mean percentage of students’ use of correct adverbials when writing persuasive essays) of each research article used. In their reviews, each author categorizes their articles by a group of three to six emerging themes based on the focus or context of the study. For example, in Polat and Mahalingappa’s review of 10 articles on pronunciation, “three common focus areas emerged: segmental (phonemic characteristics of sounds), prosodic (stress, pitch, intonation, and rhythm, etc.), and voice-​setting (articulatory characteristics of the speech).” Finally, under each theme in this section, summaries of articles are presented in a critical, comparative style to show the scope of research findings on different aspects of the same L2 skill.


3  Description of Commonly Used Data Collection and Analysis Techniques in Researching Each Skill One of the potential contributions of this book we are most excited about is the section on commonly used data collection tools and analysis procedures for each language skill. Indeed, as part of our standard chapter format, in addition to methodological details offered in article summaries in each chapter, the authors also provide lists of data collection and analysis techniques in their research review table (column 4). Basically, given that there are nine chapters, each offering reviews of 10 research articles about a different L2 skill, the readers will be able to consider more than 90 data collection and analysis tools and techniques. Such information includes lists of and descriptions about (a)  the nature of each study (e.g., descriptive, experimental), (b) methodological orientation (qualitative, quantitative, mixed-​design), (c) participants and setting (e.g., sampling, country), (d) data collection technique (e.g., surveys, interviews, recordings), (e) experimental tasks (e.g., elicitation, stimulated recall), and (f)  data analysis tools and techniques (e.g., ANOVA, regression, emergent themes). We hope that L2 practitioners will take advantage of this section as a to-​go reference when they conduct research on their own students and on curriculum and instructional practices in different language skills. If they



Introduction  7

do so, this section will fill a critical gap identified in the teacher education field –​we need more research knowledge and skills (Firth & Wagner, 2007). Indeed, in L2 teacher education, some of the basic government and/​ or accreditation mandates pertain to research knowledge and skills in the field. For example, the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) organization, which serves as the special accreditation body for the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) to evaluate the readiness of English as a second language (ESL) teachers in the United States, has 11 standards (TESOL/​CAEP, 2010) and two of these (1b: Language acquisition and development; and 5a: ESL research and history) standards are specific foci of the proposed book. The TESOL/​CAEP guidelines (2010) underscore this need by stating that ESL teachers’ “ability to draw on a rich body of theory and research to inform their practice and meet their students’ distinct learning needs is one of the most important indicators of ESOL teachers’ professionalism” (p. 20). Similarly, the focus on teacher knowledge and engagement in research is also highlighted in the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) foreign language teacher preparation standards (2013). For example, standard 6 states the following:  “Candidates systematically engage in a process of inquiry for analyzing student work and planning future instruction. They identify potential areas for classroom-​based action research to inform practice” (p. 33). Likewise, in the European L2 teacher education benchmarks, research knowledge and skills are highlighted even more explicitly. Indeed, the Training of Teachers of a Foreign Language: Developments in Europe report (2002) stated that the teacher preparation benchmarks should provide guidelines on incorporating elements of pedagogical research into teacher training. They should seek to incorporate an introduction to existing models of educational research; the ability to access and assimilate the implications of new research findings; a broad introduction to educational research methods; and experience in conducting small-​scale action research projects (p. 61). Taken together, it is clear that regardless of setting, teachers’ knowledge of pertinent research and engagement in classroom research are considered highly critical aspects of their readiness and competence. Therefore, we believe that this comprehensive volume, which compiles current SLA theory and research for each language skill and summarizes basics of research methodologies for practitioners to study the learning and teaching of each language skill, fills a noticeable gap in L2 teacher education.


8  Nihat Polat et al.

4  Summary of Specific Pedagogical Implications of Pertinent Research To maximize benefits of the critical research summaries for the readership, particularly policy makers, curriculum and materials developers, and practitioners, each chapter in this volume also offers a section about “general” and “specific” pedagogical implications of the reviewed studies. The general implications include summative conclusions in line with cumulative wisdom in current L2A research around the specific focus area each author has identified. Specific implications, on the other hand, are based on individual findings of articles included in the chapters. For example, in Chapter 6, Larsen-​Freeman states a general implication as “Although there are many ways to correct learners’ errors, some feel that the best way is the most unobtrusive way in order to avoid distracting learners from communicating, as long as they notice the correction.” In contrast, Larsen-​ Freeman states a specific implication as an activity that could include “input processing to focus learners’ attention on specific points of a target grammatical form.”

5  Theory-​/​Research-​Driven Scenarios and Activities to Teach Each Skill As described earlier, in addition to researchers, curriculum and material developers, and teacher educators, one of the main audiences of this volume is teachers. Therefore, one of the main sections of each chapter in this anthology is the part on “theory-​and research-​driven activities” to teach each language skill. In a way, this section offers the last piece of the puzzle, by aligning classroom activities with the specific theory and research about each language skill. This contribution is highly critical given the primary goal of this edited volume around the so what question and theory-​ and research-​driven pedagogy in L2 curriculum and instruction. In doing this, in each chapter, this section offers teaching activities and scenarios around the broad areas of research foci that emerged in review of the 10 research articles. For each of these broad categories authors offer activities that practitioners can use to teach a specific aspect or component of the target skill. For example, in their chapter, Gregersen and MacIntyre first describe numerous teaching activities around the six research focus areas on nonverbal communication (e.g., explicit compensatory strategy training for language learners, increased visualization in language classrooms to promote authenticity and improved comprehension). Next, they offer specific techniques (e.g., raise learners’ awareness, present and model strategies) that could help learners improve by including “explicit compensatory strategy training for language learners.” Thus, the




Introduction  9

activities and scenarios used in each chapter are highly systematic, purposefully structured, and directly aligned with current theory and research about the target language skill.

References ACTFL program standards for the preparation of foreign language standards (2013). Retrieved from​sites/​default/​files/​CAEP/​ ACTFLProgramStandards2013.pdf Ellis, R. (2010). Second language acquisition, teacher education and language pedagogy. Language Teaching 43, 182–​201. Firth, A., & Wagner, J. (2007). Second language acquisition, teacher education and language pedagogy. Modern Language Journal 91, 798–​817. Larsen-​Walker, M. (2017). Can data driven learning address L2 writers’ habitual errors with English linking adverbials? System 69,  26–​37. Ortega, L. (2015). Second language learning explained? SLA across 10 contemporary theories. In B. VanPatten & J. Williams (eds.), Theories in second language acquisition: An introduction (2nd edition) (pp. 245–​272). New York, NY: Routledge. TESOL/​CAEP standards for the recognition of initial TESOL programs in P-​12 ESL teacher education (2010). Retrieved from​advance-​the-​field/​ standards/​tesol-​caep-​standards-​for-​p-​12-​teacher-​education-​programs The training of teachers of a foreign language:  Developments in Europe report (2002). Retrieved from http://​​fileadmin/​content/​assets/​ eu_​language_​policy/​key_​documents/​studies/​executive_​summary_​full_​en.pdf


2 TEACHING AND RESEARCHING LISTENING SKILLS Theory-​and Research-​Based Practices Rebecca Oxford

1  Introduction One ongoing strand of thought is that L2 listening, compared with other L2 skills, has not received enough attention (Andringa, Olsthoorn, van Beuningen, Schoonen, & Hulstijn, 2012; Feyten, 1991; Mendelsohn, 1984; Nunan, 1997; Oxford, 1993; Vandergrift, 1997; Zeng & Goh, 2018). Numerous books on L2 listening (e.g., Graham & Santos, 2015; Lynch, 2009; Richards & Burns, 2012; Rost, 2011; Siegel, 2015; Vandergrift & Goh, 2012) and much relevant research (see Section 3) have been published in the past decade, but despite such progress, the teaching of L2 listening has not become critically important in most L2 classrooms. In fact, a comment made a decade ago, “L2 listening instruction is given only sporadic and peripheral attention” (Gu, Hu, & Zhang, 2009, p. 56), seems pertinent today. Why does L2 listening continue to receive inadequate instructional attention? First, L2 listening is an elusive, complex, demanding skill to teach and learn (Brunfaut & Révész, 2015; Rost, 2011; Siegel, 2018), and some L2 teachers, not knowing how to teach it, might push it to the side. Second, certain teachers believe L2 listening is developed through osmosis and therefore need not be taught (Mendelsohn, 1984; Oxford, 1993).1 However, some developments regarding L2 listening are more positive. For instance, L2 listening specialists generally agree on the existence of two interacting forms of mental processing during L2 listening (Rost, 2011; Vandergrift, 2004):  Bottom-​up or “linguistic” processing of details, such as sounds, grammar, vocabulary, and nonverbal signals, and top-​down or “semantic” processing of the learner’s relevant prior knowledge. In addition, experts strongly concur on the importance of metacognitive awareness




Teaching and Researching Listening Skills  11

for self-​regulated L2 listening (Vandergrift, 2004, 2007). Research has done much to clarify metacognitive listening awareness (Vandergrift & Baker, 2015; Vandergrift, Goh, Mareschal, & Tafaghodtari, 2006), though theoretical confusions remain. Finally, L2 listening can benefit from growing advances in technology (Zhou & Wei, 2018). The next section discusses relevant theories.

2  Theories Related to L2 Listening This section deals with (a)  theories of L2 listening purposes, mental processing, and difficulties; (b)  theories of metacognitive awareness and strategic self-​regulation for L2 listening; (c)  theories of L2 listening–​related technology, nonverbal communication, and pragmatics; and (d) additional listening theories from outside the L2 field.

2.1  Theories of L2 Listening Purposes, Mental Processing, and Difficulties Richards (1990) discussed differences between interactional and transactional purposes for communication. Interactional use of language satisfies the contextualized, social needs of participants and is two-​way (or multi-​ way), and it allows asking the speaker for clarification. In comparison, transactional communication is message-​oriented and is used mainly for one-​way information communication through newscasts, lectures, and the like, without clarification by a speaker. Another way of looking at listening purposes is comprehension (understanding of aural input through multiple processes) and fluency. Listening fluency involves processing aural input with reasonable comprehension and with increasing automaticity (Chang & Millett, 2014). Thus, listening fluency often implies automatically catching the meaning of rapid, evanescent speech. All of these purposes for listening could be broken down into more specific purposes, depending on the situation. Knowing the purpose for listening reduces cognitive load (Oxford & Lin, 2011) by helping learners know which listening strategies might help the most for a given purpose. As mentioned in Section 1, two mental processing approaches have been theorized for L2 listening: bottom-​up and top-​down. For the competent listener, these two approaches interact, but the ways and proportions depend on the purpose for listening. Bottom-​up processing involves constructing meaning by decoding and parsing the incoming speech stream (Roth, 2011). For instance, L2 listeners must decode segmentals (e.g., sounds/​phonemes) and suprasegmental or “paraverbal” signals (e.g., rhythm, stress, pacing, pitch, tone, pauses, and even silence), nonverbal signals, and details of grammar and vocabulary. For paraverbal and nonverbal signals, see Gregersen and


12  Rebecca Oxford

MacIntyre (2017). This information is gradually combined into increasingly large units (Vandergrift, 2004). In contrast, the top-​down approach relies on the listener’s existing background knowledge of the topic, the culture, and the setting. Strengthening the top-​down approach necessitates practice with strategies for predicting, making inferences, confirming, updating, reasoning, and remembering (Rost, 2011). Gu, Hu, and Zhang (2009), citing Wu (1998) and Tsui and Fullilove (1998), noted two types of top-​down L2 processing:  Compensatory, related to unsuccessful L2 listening and based on guessing due to weak decoding skills, and facilitative, associated with successful L2 listening and not based on poor decoding. L2 listening theorists and researchers (e.g., Ahmed, 2015; Mendelsohn, 1984; Mendelsohn & Rubin, 1995; Oxford, 1993; Reynandya & Farrell, 2011; Rost, 2011, 2014a, 2014b; Sakuma, 2013; Siegel, 2018; Vandergrift & Baker, 2015; Vandergrift & Goh, 2012) have identified or implied many overlapping L2 listening difficulties, such as poor auditory discrimination; limited working memory; confusions related to L2 accents, intonations, glides, assimilations, elisions, and unfamiliar word order and word formations; wide structural differences between the L1 and the L2; vast cultural differences; limited vocabulary in either the L1 or the L2; limited general L2 proficiency; limited background knowledge and inability to access background knowledge; and lack of metacognitive awareness.

2.2  Theories of Metacognitive Awareness and Strategic Self-​Regulation for L2 Listening Goh and Hu (2014) gave evidence that metacognition explains more variation in learning than does intelligence (though the range and type of intelligence would make a difference). O’Malley, Chamot, Stewner-​Manzanares, Russo, and Küpper (1985) remarked that “students without metacognitive approaches are essentially learners without direction” (p.  561). Self-​ regulation is related to metacognition (Vygotsky, 1978, 1981) and was first added by Oxford (1999) to explanations of L2 learning strategies. Autonomy, self-​direction, and self-​management are closely associated with L2 strategic self-​regulation (e.g., Oxford, 1990, 2011, 2015, 2017; Oxford & Lin, 2011; Rubin, 2001; Wenden, 1991). Vandergrift’s model of metacognition is embodied in the 21-​ item Metacognitive Awareness Listening Questionnaire (MALQ, Vandergrift et al., 2006), drawing partly on Flavell’s (1979) concepts of metacognition. The MALQ is employed for research, instruction, and learner self-​reflection. Respondents report how often they use specific L2 listening strategies and indicate their sense of themselves as L2 listeners (“person knowledge”). The MALQ has five distinct factors based on exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis: Four listening strategy factors –​i.e., directed attention,




Teaching and Researching Listening Skills  13

planning and evaluation, problem-​ solving related to inferences, and (avoiding) mental translation factors  –​and one person knowledge factor. Vandergrift et  al. (2006), among others, reported significant correlations between listening comprehension performance and MALQ scores. Using Rasch analysis, Ehrich and Henderson (2018) discovered that the MALQ, except for its person knowledge subscale, has good psychometric properties (unidimensionality and reliability). The MALQ’s title might create two confusions. The first, which seems potentially more serious, concerns the word “awareness.” Of the four levels of consciousness related to L2 learning (Oxford, 2017; Schmidt, 1990, 1995, 2010), only two, both reflecting “awareness” (low-​level awareness, or noticing, and high-​level awareness, or understanding) are suggested in the instrument’s title. This could be confusing because most MALQ items also implicitly assess the other two consciousness levels, intention and effort, by asking learners to rate how often they use particular strategies, as mentioned earlier. The second potential issue is that the title emphasizes the word “metacognitive,” which could lead less sophisticated MALQ users to believe, incorrectly, that L2 listening is dependent only on metacognitive strategies. Successful L2 listening relies on the orchestration (Graham & Macaro, 2008; Oxford, 1990, 2011; Vandergrift, 2003) of varied strategies chosen by the individual to meet task requirements and long-​term goals. Metacognitive strategies (e.g., planning, organizing, directing attention, monitoring, and evaluating) often act as self-​regulatory guides for using various other types of strategies, such as cognitive (e.g., making inferences, analyzing, synthesizing, summarizing, highlighting, elaborating, and inferring meaning while listening), affective/​emotion-​related (e.g., breathing deeply or listening to music to reduce anxiety), and social (e.g., asking questions for clarification, verification, cultural understanding, or building empathy while listening).2 The two potential confusions raised do not diminish the great value of the MALQ for assessing variables important to L2 listening development. Many researchers have underscored the importance of L2 listening strategies (Mendelsohn, 2006; Mendelsohn & Rubin, 1995; O’Malley, Chamot, & Küpper, 1989; Oxford, 1990, 1993, 2011, 2017; Rubin, 1994; Siegel, 2018; Vandergrift, 1997, 2004; Vandergrift & Baker, 2015; Vandergrift & Goh, 2012; Zeng & Goh, 2018). Rost’s (2011) selection of the most teachable L2 listening strategies includes (a)  predicting information or ideas before listening, (b)  inferring from the context, (c)  monitoring comprehension, (d)  asking for clarification, and (e)  providing a personal response to what is heard. In an important study, effective L2 listeners more often used four groups of strategies than did less effective L2 listeners:  Paying selective attention to pauses, intonation, and language chunks; self-​ monitoring, including redirecting attention if distracted; elaborating with background knowledge; and inferring meaning (O’Malley et al., 1989). For more on the


14  Rebecca Oxford

relationship between listening development and strategy use, see Macaro, Graham, and Vanderplank (2007) and Graham, Santos, and Vanderplank (2011). Fortunately, strategies are teachable. Strategy instruction involves hands-​ on practice, not just conceptual understanding. When L2 listeners become more strategically self-​regulated, they develop greater listening self-​efficacy (Graham, 2011), roughly translated as confidence in their ability to handle relevant tasks. Chamot and O’Malley (1994) developed a five-​phase L2 strategy instruction cycle encompassing preparation, presentation, practice, evaluation, and expansion. Vandergrift (2004) developed a more complex five-​phase metacognitive pedagogical cycle for L2 listening. It contains a short pre-​listening stage of planning and predicting; three verification stages, using strategies such as monitoring, planning, selective attention, and problem solving; and a reflective, evaluative stage. The last of these stages are double-​ pronged: (a) writing or collaboratively discussing what learners discovered about their strategic listening processes; and (b) setting strategy-​related goals for future listening activities. A different way to theorize L2 listening strategy instruction is to consider the degree and type of information given to learners about strategies. Fully informed L2 listening strategy instruction (based on concepts of fully informed learning strategy instruction) teaches L2 listeners how, when, and why to employ a particular strategy, how to monitor success of the strategy for a specific task, and how to transfer the strategy to other relevant tasks (Oxford, 1990, 2011). Two other forms of strategy instruction  –​totally uninformed (“blind”) and partially informed  –​do not give L2 listeners all the needed information and therefore limit their self-​regulatory ability. A caution is that some L2 listeners, compared with others, might have independently developed very helpful strategies and might therefore need less strategy instruction.

2.3  Theories of Listening-​Related Technology, Nonverbal Communication, and Pragmatics Increasing theory and research exists supporting technology as a tool for L2 listening comprehension, fluency, motivation, and metacognitive awareness. King (2002) encouraged the use of culturally and linguistically authentic feature films. Research on technology-​aided “reading while listening” has shown promise (Chang, 2011; Chang & Millett, 2014, 2016; Tragant, Muñoz, & Spada, 2016; Tragant & Vallabona, 2018). Chang and Chang (2014) encouraged EFL students to create questions about selected YouTube advertising videos and work collaboratively on video listening comprehension and metacognitive awareness. Zhou and Wei (2018) discussed technology-​enhanced language learning (TELL) to improve metacognitive




Teaching and Researching Listening Skills  15

awareness and enhance L2 listening. They noted multiple TELL options for L2 skills:  Computer-​assisted language learning (CALL)3; online and blended learning approaches, online games, virtual and augmented reality, immersive classrooms, and telepresence. Possible cognitive overload must be addressed in using technology to teach L2 listening and other L2 skills (Oxford & Lin, 2011). Nonverbal communication and pragmatics have been very well theorized for the L2 field but insufficiently applied in teaching L2 listening or speaking. Nonverbal elements essential for much L2 listening comprehension include eye movement, gesture, facial expression, posture, touch, space/​distance, time, and physical appearance. Sometimes clues designated earlier as paraverbal are included in the nonverbal category (Gregersen & MacIntyre, 2017). Information on emotions, attitudes, and interpersonal relationships is mostly conveyed nonverbally. Strategies for understanding nonverbal communication can be overtly taught. Pragmatics refers to how language is used in speech acts for varied sociocultural contexts. Ishihara and Cohen (2014) emphasized the pragmatic nature of listening and speaking. L2 listeners need strategies for being aware of and interpreting what is said and not said in the context of cultural norms for politeness, directness, and formality. Strategy instruction for authentic listening should include strategies for recognizing and interpreting speech acts.

2.4  Other Relevant Listening Theories Theories of empathic listening, mindful listening, and situational listening styles have long been important in the communications field but have not been adequately considered in relation to L2 listening. Because L2 interactions are intrinsically intercultural, they require empathy and mindfulness, along with a general understanding of listening styles. However, empathy, mindfulness, and styles are not often mentioned by L2 listening specialists.4 Outside the L2 field, empathic listening is well known. Communication and education experts (Bruneau, 2009; Burley-​Allen, 1982; Salem, 2003; Timpson, 2010) have noted that empathic listeners use words and nonverbal behaviors to enhance mutual trust, understanding, teamwork, collaboration, and care; to allow the release of tensions and emotions; to encourage information to surface; and to create a safe, nonjudgmental environment for communication. Within the L2 field, a BBC/​British Council team (2011) provided a highly practical lesson for teaching active (empathic) listening. The lesson encourages EFL learners to use expressions such as these: “That must have been really disappointing /​upsetting /​frustrating /​difficult. So, in other words … ? /​So, what you’re saying is … Why do you think she /​you /​ he behaved /​reacted /​spoke to you /​him /​her like that? How did that make


16  Rebecca Oxford

you/​her feel?” (pp. 2–​3).5 If the BBC and the British Council consider such listening to be of practical importance for L2 learners, it deserves serious attention by L2 listening theorists. Mindful listening, which has similarities to empathic listening, has also been largely ignored by L2 listening theorists. Mindful listening arose from mindfulness, which came from ancient Asian spiritual sources but is now well accepted in modern Eastern and Western societies. Mindful listening occurs when the listener is fully present, curious, kind, compassionate, nonjudgmental, and open (see Brady, 2007, 2008; Campbell, 2009; Cooper & Boyd, 1996; Gunaratana, 2002; Hassed & Chambers, 2015; Langer, 1997, 2000; Powietrzyńska, 2014; Siegel, 2007; Wang & Liu, 2016). Although Olivero’s (2017) dissertation on peace activities in EFL teacher education often mentioned mindful L2 listening, such listening was not the key focus. Finally, the communications field discusses listening styles, which seem not to be a significant aspect of L2 listening theories. Communication theorists have wisely stated that listening styles are not innate, static individual differences; instead, listening styles are an individual’s goal-​driven listening habits that vary based on an interaction’s requirements in a given context (e.g., empathy, depth, and perspective taking) (Gearhart, Denham, & Bodie, 2014). So far this chapter has provided an overview of developments in the L2 listening field (Section 1) and a survey of theories (Section 2). Section 3 concerns research studies and their implications.

3  A Critical Review of Individual Studies with Implications for Teaching This section has three parts:  (a) Table  2.1, which summarizes 10 recent (within the past 10 years) L2 listening studies by focusing on source, focus, context, and research methods; (b)  a critical review of these studies; and (c) pedagogical implications, with an eye to cultural/​contextual validity and the use of technology. The studies are in six sets. Subsection 3.1 reports on two trail-​blazing investigations of multiple learner factors in L2 listening. The single study in Subsection 3.2 focuses on listening strategies of primary school L2 learners. In Subsection 3.3, metacognition is the theme of two studies. In Subsection 3.4, three studies deal with vocabulary for L2 listening. Subsection 3.5 discusses a study of multiple modalities to improve L2 listening. Subsection 3.6 highlights a diary study concerning L2 listening and speaking. These contributions were chosen because they (a)  represent various approaches to L2 listening development; (b)  reflect diverse research methodologies and appropriate techniques and procedures; (c)  deal with learners from different educational settings (primary school, high school, and university);




TABLE 2.1  Summary of 10 selected works addressing different aspects of L2

listening Source Vandergrift & Baker, 2015

Bang & Hiver, 2016

Gu, Hu, & Zhang, 2009



Research Methods

3.1. Studies of Multiple Learner Factors in L2 Listening Identify cognitive 157 grade 7 MALQ; test of L1 (English) contributors learners in listening based on short, to L2 listening first-​year participant-​relevant comprehension French dialogues; test of L2 (French) immersion listening comprehension in Canada requiring processing of extended, authentic speech followed by multiple choice questions and answers in the L2; measures of L1 and L2 vocabulary knowledge, working memory, and auditory discrimination; exploratory and confirmatory path analysis Identify cognitive 300 low-​ Vocabulary knowledge test; and affective proficiency, grammar knowledge from contributors first or the Korean Ministry of to L2 listening second-​ Education, Science, and comprehension year high Technology; standardized school EFL TOEFL Junior listening learners in comprehension test; survey Seoul and of listening strategy use, self-​ nearby determined motivation, and L2 listening anxiety; multiple regression, correlation, SEM, confirmatory factor analysis 3.2. Study of L2 Listening Strategies of Young Learners Identify types 18 primary Careful selection of participants of listening school (3 schools x 3 grade levels x strategies used learners of 2 English proficiency levels); by high and English in easy and difficult listening low proficiency Singapore texts for each primary students at 3 level, with difficulty and primary levels appropriateness gauged by teachers with high reliability; general background interviews; game-​based training for think-​aloud interviews; think-​alouds to elicit strategy data; independent samples t-​tests (continued)


TABLE 2.1  (Cont.)

Source Goh & Hu, 2014

Zeng & Goh, 2018



Research Methods

3.3. Studies of Metacognition for L2 Listening Identify 113 Chinese Descriptive; MALQ; participants’ ESL learners International English scores on in Singapore Language Testing System metacognitive (IELTS) listening test; awareness bivariate regression, multiple and listening regression, and repeated-​ proficiency measures ANOVA for within-​ and the subjects findings relationships between metacognitive awareness and listening proficiency Determine the 4 EFL students Case study of 4 students with success of in a Chinese an intervention; National a 6-​month university: 2 Entrance Examination metacognitive, high and university mid-​term self-​regulated achievers, listening test to select the learning (SRL) 2 low 4 participants; MALQ at program for L2 achievers the beginning of the study; listening SRL portfolios containing listening plans, self-​noted listening data, and weekly retrospective reports about listening activities and strategy use in and out of class; individual interviews during the study; at the end, MALQ, value reflection forms, a group interview, national CET4 listening test, and university mid-​term listening test

3.4. Studies of Relationships between Vocabulary and L2 Listening Jafari and Examine L2 108 second-​ Experimental; random Hashim, listening-​ year assignment to 2 experimental 2012 comprehension university groups (key vocabulary for improvement students in one group, key sentences related to Malaysia for other) or control group); 2 types of learning ANCOVA, with listening advance EFL comprehension pretest as organizers covariate




TABLE 2.1  (Cont.)




Matthews Identify 167 EFL & Cheng, correlation learners 2015 and prediction from a between aural Chinese vocabulary university knowledge and L2 listening comprehension Matthews, Identify 247 EFL 2017 relationships learners among aural from a vocabulary Chinese knowledge, university L2 listening comprehension, and L2

Research Methods IELTS listening subtest; partial dictation test based on word frequency ranges (first, second, and third 1,000 words from BNC-​COCA family word lists; correlation; multiple regression IELTS listening subtest; partial dictation test based on fluency ranges (up to 5,000 words) from BNC-​ COCA; L2 proficiency measurement based on discrete-​point vocabulary test and integrative reading test; independent t-​tests, correlation, and hierarchical multiple regression

3.5. Intervention Study of Multiple Modalities to Enhance L2 Listening Chang & Compare 3 113 low-​ Quasi-​experimental; 3 groups Millett, modes for intermediate treated with different 2014 developing university modes for development L2 L2 listening EFL listening fluency (reading fluency learners in only, listening only, and Taiwan reading while listening); 2,064 listening fluency items keyed to 10 Level 1 graded readers; pretest (60 items) as covariate, 3 posttests (60 items each); MANOVA 3.6. Qualitative Diary Study of L2 Listening and Speaking Competence Ma & Discern the A Chinese 85-​day narrative self-​study Oxford, interplay of learner of using a detailed diary, 2014 affect, social advanced focusing on variables in interaction, English listening and speaking learning who was in competence; thematic strategies a doctoral analysis and interpretation of (especially program at a diary data metacognitive), U.S. research and learning university styles in L2 listening and speaking


20  Rebecca Oxford

and (d) represent different countries, including Canada, the United States, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, China, and Malaysia. Much research on L2 listening is occurring in the Far East.

3.1  Two Studies of Multiple Learner Factors in L2 Listening The first study, by Vandergrift and Baker (2015), was conducted in Canada with 157 students in grade 7 across three similar cohorts, 2008, 2009, and 2010. Participants were in their first year of a French immersion program. The study employed the MALQ. L2 (French) listening comprehension of extended authentic speech (28 items) was assessed by multiple choice items in French, while L1 (English) listening comprehension (22 items) involved responses to short dialogs. Most comprehension items focused on details, not gist. Parts of the Pimsleur Language Aptitude Battery assessed auditory discrimination. L1 and L2 vocabulary knowledge was measured with English and French versions of the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test. Two subtests of the Working Memory Test Battery for Children were employed. Significant correlations emerged between L2 listening comprehension and most of the other variables. Path analysis, based on hypothetical relationships from recent research and theory, created a provisional model in which auditory discrimination and working memory contributed to L1 vocabulary knowledge. In turn, L1 vocabulary knowledge and metacognition had direct effects on L2 vocabulary knowledge, and L2 vocabulary knowledge had a direct effect on L2 listening comprehension. Thus, metacognition and L1 vocabulary knowledge had indirect effects on L2 listening comprehension through L2 vocabulary knowledge. The researchers emphasized that their model was a starting point for future research. In the second study, Bang and Hiver (2016) employed structural equation modeling, confirmatory factor analysis, and other analyses. Their study focused on cognitive and affective variables for 300 low-​proficiency first-​and second-​year EFL students in Seoul, Korea, and nearby densely populated areas. Instruments included the standardized Vocabulary Levels Test for English (a measure of vocabulary breadth rather than depth) and a 20-​ item, discrete-​point test of English grammar knowledge from the Korean Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology. EFL vocabulary and grammar knowledge formed the latent variable of EFL linguistic knowledge. EFL listening was assessed with the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) junior listening comprehension test. EFL listening strategy use, self-​determined motivation, and listening anxiety were assessed by a 48-​item survey drawing on items from previously existing scales. Intrinsic motivation directly affected L2 listening strategy use, which indirectly influenced L2 listening proficiency. Strategy use was mediated by L2 linguistic knowledge, which directly influenced L2 listening proficiency.




Teaching and Researching Listening Skills  21

Listening anxiety was negatively related to linguistic knowledge and listening strategy use. Bing and Hiver speculated that (a)  L2 listening strategy instruction might improve L2 listening proficiency only if L2 linguistic knowledge had reached a certain threshold and (b) using L2 strategy instruction and increasing students’ L2 linguistic knowledge could decrease L2 listening anxiety and improve listening proficiency.

3.2  A Study of L2 Listening Strategies of Young Learners Gu et al. (2009) studied Singaporean primary school ESL pupils’ listening strategies. The sample represented three neighborhood schools, three primary school levels (4, 5, and 6), and two proficiency levels (high and low, identified mainly through existing test scores), N  =  18. Easy and difficult narrative listening texts, rated by teachers, came from supplemental primary school materials. A Singaporean teacher/​research assistant prerecorded the texts. Interviews served as warm-​ups and elicited educational and family information. Via a game, pupils learned to think aloud (verbalize mental processes). Listening texts were played individually and halted periodically for thinking aloud. Procedures were audiotaped, videotaped, and verbatim-​transcribed. Transcriptions were coded using NVivo. An initial listening strategy coding scheme, developed from other schemes (Goh, 2002; O’Malley et  al., 1989; Vandergrift, 2003), was then applied through independent ratings and refined through calibration meetings until intercoder reliability was high. Results indicated that high-​proficiency participants, compared to low-​ proficiency peers, showed more self-​ initiation, planning, inferencing, predicting, experience-​relating, and using top-​down and bottom-​up processing to reconstruct texts. Low-​proficiency participants gave up on what they did not understand, used lying as a cover, misinterpreted problems, made wild guesses, and overemployed bottom-​up processing and verbatim repetition.

3.3  Two Studies of Metacognition for L2 Listening In the first of the two studies of metacognition, Goh and Hu (2014) explored relationships between metacognitive awareness and L2 listening performance in 113 Chinese students, ages 18–​20, who completed high school in China and were attending a six-​month ESL listening and note-​taking program in a Singapore university before returning to China for undergraduate studies. Instruments included the MALQ and a 40-​ item International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) sample listening test. Participants showed a moderate level of metacognitive awareness on the MALQ. The mean IELTS listening score revealed intermediate proficiency (24.5 out of 40.0).


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Even high IELTS scorers showed only moderate levels of confidence and strategy use on the MALQ. Similar proportions of the listening variance were shown for the bivariate prediction of listening proficiency by the overall MALQ (20%) and for the multivariate prediction of listening proficiency by the uniquely contributing subscales of the MALQ (22%), and both of these proportions were higher than the proportions of variance between listening and the MALQ in earlier studies: 13% in Vandergrift et al. (2006) and 15% in Zeng and Goh, (2018). A  repeated-​measures ANOVA for individual differences revealed a significant relationship between listening proficiency and two MALQ subscales, directed attention and problem-​solving, along with much intrapersonal variation for different MALQ factors. A six-​month case study in China (Zeng & Goh, 2018) involved four college EFL listeners, two high achievers and two low achievers. Self-​regulated learning (SRL), or in this case, self-​regulated listening, was used to develop EFL listening. SRL was assessed via participants’ portfolios, including weekly reports about tasks and strategy use, listening plans, listening task duration and repetitions, and monitoring and evaluation results. Pre-​ and post-​intervention listening proficiency was assessed by standardized listening tests (a national entrance exam before and the national CET-​4 after, though no information was given about a content match) and a local university listening test. The MALQ was used pre-​and post-​intervention. During intervention, individual interviews occurred. Participants completed value reflections and a group interview at the end. The listening teacher also evaluated performance. High achievers, compared with low achievers, were more engaged in SRL, used more varied strategies, and had stronger metacognitive awareness, including self-​perceptions of greater confidence and less anxiety. High achievers had increasingly better listening comprehension over time vis-​à-​vis their whole class, while low achievers had worse. One wonders whether some results were influenced by heavy SRL portfolio requirements, which perhaps helped the more confident (and possibly more organized) high achievers than the anxious (and possibly overwhelmed) low achievers.

3.4  Three Studies of Relationships between Vocabulary and L2 Listening In the first study, Jafari and Hashim (2012) conducted an experiment to examine L2 listening comprehension improvement with advance organizers. Second-​year university students (N = 108) in Malaysia were selected because of their existing listening proficiency levels (either higher or lower). Each participant was randomly assigned to one of two experimental groups or a control group. Performance on a listening comprehension pretest was used as a covariate to adjust for initial differences. Before listening, the experimental groups received advance organizers as the treatment. One group previewed




Teaching and Researching Listening Skills  23

key sentences, while the other learned key vocabulary. The posttest measured improvement in listening comprehension. Both experimental groups showed significant gains in listening comprehension, while the control group had no such gains. Results also revealed that pre-​intervention listening proficiency level significantly affected listening comprehension, but no interaction effect emerged between the use of advance organizers and listening proficiency level. The researchers said this showed that comprehension improvements are possible for learners who receive advance organizers, regardless of listening proficiency level. The outcome (no interaction between pre-​intervention listening proficiency and the listening-​related treatment) seems very different from the patterns in Zeng and Goh’s (2018) case study. Perhaps the concrete nature of the 2012 study’s advance organizers and complex reporting requirements of the 2018 study made a difference. The second study (Matthews & Cheng, 2015) involved 167 Chinese tertiary-​level students in China. The researchers investigated relationships between EFL listening comprehension and the recognition of high-​ frequency words from English speech. The 40-​item IELTS listening test revealed that participants’ average listening comprehension was rather low. A partial-​dictation test assessed aural vocabulary knowledge (AVK). The test required written production of single target words after hearing a stimulus sentence once. Target words were tied to frequency levels in the British National Corpus and the Corpus of Contemporary American English (BNC/​COCA), including 0–​1,000 (i.e., in the first 1,000 word frequency), 1,001–​2,000 (second), or 2,001–​3,000 (third) –​all considered high frequency. A  strong, positive correlation (r  =  0.73, p < 0.01) occurred between AVK and IELTS listening. Multiple regression showed that AVK measures significantly predicted IELTS listening. AVK in the 2,001–​3,000 frequency range alone predicted 52% of the IELTS listening variance, but AVK scores below that range added little unique prediction. This finding occurred although AVK for all three frequency ranges (the first, second, and third 1,000 words) separately correlated with IELTS listening. The researchers underscored the crucial nature of AVK involving high-​frequency words. However, the researchers also mentioned a limitation of the study: Not measuring AVK in ranges above 3,000. The following study (Matthews, 2017) overcame that limitation. In the third study (Matthews, 2017), 247 EFL learners from a Chinese university participated. The research examined relationships among (a) AVK at different word frequency levels using a partial-​dictation test tied to BNC-​ COCA, (b) IELTS listening scores, and (c) EFL proficiency as measured by a discrete-​point vocabulary test and an integrative reading test. The sample had a somewhat low IELTS listening average, but within the sample Matthews found learners with (relatively) high and low EFL proficiency. He assessed AVK using the following word frequency levels: Level one, 0–​2,000, and level


24  Rebecca Oxford

two, 2,001–​3,000, both high-​frequency; and level three, 3,001–​5,000, mid-​ frequency (different from the frequency categories employed by Matthews & Cheng, 2015). In independent-​samples t-​tests, a significant difference occurred between mean AVK of high-​and low-​proficiency participants for each word frequency level. In hierarchical regression, AVK of high-​and mid-​ frequency words predicted > 50% of the IELTS listening variance (N = 247). AVK of level one words significantly predicted IELTS listening for low-​proficiency learners, but AVK of levels two and three predicted IELTS listening for high-​ proficiency learners. Matthews mentioned the potential value of teaching listening strategies and using computer-​assisted instruction of level one words, followed by level two, and consistently using interesting aural texts. He also suggested students could practice by listening to self-​chosen podcasts, television shows, radio, and films, especially if these used high-​frequency vocabulary.

3.5  A Study on L2 Listening Fluency with Different Input Modes Chang and Millett’s (2014) quasi-​experiment investigated EFL listening-​ fluency development for 113 low-​intermediate Taiwanese university students. EFL listening fluency was defined as automatic processing of auditory input with reasonable comprehension. All students were taking English proficiency courses (one 100-​minute reading course and one 100-​minute listening course per week). However, for this study three intervention groups were formed by the researchers based on specific input modes:  (a) reading-​only (RO), (b) reading while listening (RL), and (c) listening-​only (LO). Groups were not matched for listening proficiency; the LO group had a higher listening pretest mean than RO or RL. While taking the 60-​item pretest and the three posttests (60 items each), participants simultaneously listened once to the audio texts (same speech rates) and responded to short-​answer listening questions. The independent variable was group (RO, RL, and LO). Four dependent measures were the pretest (as covariate) and three listening-​fluency posttests. MANOVA showed that the researchers’ hypothesis, that the RL group’s listening fluency would surpass that of the other groups, was supported at posttest 3, not at posttests 1 and 2.

3.6  A Diary Study of Metacognitive Regulation of L2 Listening and Speaking The first author, Rui Ma, a Chinese native speaker, was an advanced doctoral student in the United States.6 She was an independent ESL learner, whose graduate classes completely used English. For 85 days, she kept and thematically interpreted a meticulous diary. Before MA started the diary, the Learning Style Survey (Cohen, Oxford, & Chi, 2002) indicated that her style




Teaching and Researching Listening Skills  25

was introverted, detailed, metaphor-​oriented, intuitive-​random, reflective, and synthesis-​oriented, findings the diary underscored. The diary revealed the complex interplay of affect, thoughts, self-​regulation, academic and personal experiences, and learning strategies affecting Ma’s ESL listening and speaking. For instance, the diary showed that when she encountered figurative language (metaphors, similes, and idioms) in class, she reflected for long periods on it, while class discussions proceeded without her. Though Ma enjoyed drifting into complex linguistic reflections, she noted in her diary that this attention pattern was dysfunctional for listening comprehension and fluency and ultimately hurt her self-​confidence. Therefore, the diary addressed the strategies she used to manage her attention more effectively. In addition, the diary detailed an array of other positive and negative experiences, such as relationships with roommates, that influenced her English language use. The diary was helpful in deepening metacognitive, cognitive, affective, and social awareness for listening and speaking.

4  Summary of L2 Pedagogical Implications Based on the Research One research implication is that L2 listening instruction can be enhanced by technology, but it can also include non-​technological approaches. L2 listening instruction should address diverse listening purposes and contexts. Formal, transactional, one-​way communication can involve a lecture, an oral explanation or announcement, or a written story read aloud. One-​way listening to a formal text is sometimes used to assess listening in research studies. However, one-​way listening does not reflect the range of listening abilities L2 learners are expected to develop. Listening instructors must also include more flexible, more casual, two-​way or multi-​way L2 communication that contains dropped sounds, sentence fragments, interruptions, talk-​overs, and nonverbal and paraverbal messages. Second, any L2 listening activities should be culturally valid, reflecting not just holidays, foods, and dress but also the beliefs and attitudes of the target culture. Some target cultures have general beliefs and attitudes that an L2 teacher might consider offensive in relation to gender, race, religion, or age, so listening activities and listening texts must be carefully chosen. Cultural differences cannot be avoided in discussions and technology-​ assisted learning, but such differences should be handled carefully and with sensitivity and respect. Third, research reveals that L2 listening is enhanced by L2 vocabulary knowledge (especially in the high-​frequency levels in BNC-​COCA), working memory, and auditory discrimination. These areas should be included in L2 listening instruction in a principled way. Instruction in these areas can be discrete-​point at first but should rapidly move into a more integrative,


26  Rebecca Oxford

authentic mode. Enhancing vocabulary, memory, and auditory discrimination is often done in pre-​listening activities, but the pre-​listening phase should be short enough to allow adequate time for the listening activities themselves (Nguyen & Abbott, 2016; Vandergrift, 2004). Fourth, compared to L2 listening comprehension studies, few fluency investigations have been conducted. We might also assume that fluency is not a major factor in L2 listening instruction, even though fluency is crucial for participating as a good listener/​ communicator in rapid conversations and in listening to quickly paced television news broadcasts, films, YouTube videos, and podcasts. Although fluency is related to L2 listening comprehension, comprehension activities do not necessarily lead to fluency. Fluency might not be directly addressed by scaffolded comprehension activities that involve listeners’ at-​will, technology-​assisted pausing and repetition or beautifully enunciated, expertly prerecorded oral readings of book passages. L2 listening fluency must be a focus of at least some listening activities. Fifth, much L2 listening research has been devoted to metacognitive awareness. L2 listening instruction should also include the teaching of metacognitive strategies. However, teachers should not forget to teach important cognitive, social, and affective strategies related to specific tasks. Strategy instruction should avoid unnecessarily technical jargon, such as “metacognitive,” “cognitive,” and so on. Sixth, skills integration is the combination of two or more skills (e.g., listening, speaking, reading, and writing), typically within a communicative task or setting (Hinkel, 2010; Oxford, 2001). Skills integration makes classroom work closer to real-​life communication. In this section, we have seen a quasi-​experimental study of skills integration in the form of “reading while listening” (Chang & Millett, 2014) and a study of listening, speaking, and diary writing (Ma & Oxford, 2014). In L2 classrooms, it is relatively easy to integrate listening with other skills through L2 question-​and-​answer sessions, small-​group discussions of tweets and podcasts, role plays, student or teacher announcements, singing with written lyrics, and student-​made films and presentations.

5  Theory-​and Research-​Driven Activities to Teach L2 Listening The activities enumerated in what follows provide abundant input of various kinds and strategies that could make listening more effective, more interesting, more self-​regulated, and more able to strengthen learner self-​ efficacy. Listening materials can be selected for liveliness, topics of interest, and learners’ listening proficiency level. Some texts could be chosen based on high-​ frequency or mid-​ frequency BNC-​ COCA rankings. Multistep



Teaching and Researching Listening Skills  27

activities in this section presume appropriate classroom preparation, such as practicing aural discrimination and word recognition. For listening comprehension, recorded aural input can sometimes be slowed down at first; for listening fluency, the speech rate can be increased across multiple repetitions or multiple passages. Activities and passages can be broken into parts as needed. Activities often involve not just listening but other L2 skills as well. Ahmed (2015) mentioned the following L2 listening activities:  (a) predicting content in a listening test by skimming questions first; (b) listening for the main idea (gist) of a short video by looking at the title, listening for the content words, listening again with subtitles, and listening the following week; (c) using mind maps (semantic maps) to group words while listening; (d) writing a growing list of “signpost” phrases (e.g., “three factors,” “moving on,” “in summary”) in a notebook and listening for them; (e) listening for specific details in programs where the information would be expected; and (f) inferring meaning in a YouTube clip, then playing it again to check for accuracy of the inferences. Additional listening activities can also be employed, most of which I have used in some form: •


Guest Speaker. A guest speaker from the target culture comes to share his or her life experiences informally. Students pay attention to nonverbal communication clues (e.g., gestures, gaze, posture, movement) and listen for life experience details (e.g., birthplace, family, education, travel). Students take notes using a familiar format, such as narrative, Roman, or T-​line (Oxford, 1990). Depending on the situation, students can use active listening techniques during or after the guest’s sharing. Listening-​Plus! Students listen to a podcast, a radio broadcast, a song, or a spoken poem. On a written transcript, parts have been systematically deleted: for a cloze activity, every sixth or seventh word; for a C-​ test, half of every second word (Zúñiga Vargas, 2015); or for a different mode, only content words. Students fill in the blanks with what they hear as the passage is read or sung. (This should not become an activity of guessing based on surrounding words or a spelling activity.) Play the passage again to increase accuracy. Students could then compare their work and possibly discuss cultural meanings or perceived emotions of the speaker/​singer. Comics or Classics. Students read while listening to an exciting, prerecorded L2 story from a carefully chosen genre (e.g., comic book or a segment of a condensed, illustrated classic). Students then discuss what they heard and what the pictures helped them understand. Relevant vocabulary activities and role play could follow. Online Listening-​Speaking. A  pair of students uses Skype or some other online, friendly, casual video app for listening and speaking


28  Rebecca Oxford

in the L2. Students share personal news and listen to each other carefully. They employ empathic listening techniques to elicit information and make the setting as comfortable as possible. They use relevant listening strategies to comprehend aural and nonverbal input. A useful strategy in many situations is to avoid trying to understand every word; letting go of that impossible goal will help improve both comprehension and fluency. Listening Log. Using their smartphones or small, spiral bound notebooks, learners could keep individual logs about what they hear (phrases, words), possibly along with other information. Listeners could take minimal notes and later add details, e.g., the context of the conversation, the people involved, the purpose of listening, and emotional reactions. In the listening log, some learners desire more information and others want less. If relevant, learners can use the logged words or phrases in conversation and monitor others’ responses. (To enhance strategy use, listening logs can include learners’ notes on strategies they used for listening and can indicate which strategies worked effectively.)

These activities can enhance L2 listening in the context of other L2 skills. These activities can be adapted in various ways to emphasize listening comprehension and fluency. Many other research-​supported activities are also possible. In conclusion, this chapter has discussed developments in the L2 listening field (Section 1) and explained key theories of L2 listening (Section 2). Section 3, the most extensive, presented a critical review of 10 studies. Section 4 concerned pedagogical implications of the research and cited cultural and technological issues. The current section offered some specific suggestions for L2 listening activities. The chapter has included a large array of sources on L2 listening, and readers of this chapter can take advantage of these excellent works. At the same time, readers should consider what is missing in theory, research, and practice and where the L2 listening field should go in the future.

Notes 1 For more on teachers’ beliefs about L2 listening, see Graham, Santos, and Francis-​ Brophy (2014) and Santos and Graham (2018). 2 These social strategies involve speaking to improve the processes and outcomes of listening comprehension. None of the strategy categories is rigid; a given strategy, such as analyzing, can sometimes be used fluidly for different functions (Oxford, 2017). 3 CALL could be called the “mother field,” but the term TELL is broader at this stage.




Teaching and Researching Listening Skills  29

4 Mercer (2016) has done very good work on empathy in general in the L2 learning field, but empathic listening still seems not to be a major topic among L2 listening experts. 5 Asking questions for clarification or verification is a useful listening strategy, but empathic listening is much broader and deeper than just clarification/​verification questions. 6 R. Oxford, the other author, was Ma’s doctoral advisor.

References Ahmed, R. (2015, June 18). Five essential listening skills for English learners. Voices Magazine. British Council.​voices-​magazine/​ five-​essential-​listening-​skills-​english-​learners Andringa, S., Olsthoorn, N., van Beuningen, C., Schoonen, R., & Hulstijn, J. (2012). Determinants of native and non-​native listening comprehension: An individual differences approach. Language Learning 62(2),  49–​78. Bang, S., & Hiver, P. (2016). Investigating the structural relationships of cognitive and affective domains for L2 listening. Asian-​Pacific Journal of Second and Foreign Language Education 1(7). doi: 10.1186/​s40862-​016-​0013-​8 BBC/​British Council (2011). Lesson: Socialising (4) –​Active listening. Teaching English.​sites/​teacheng/​files/​Socialising%204_​Active%20 listening_​lesson%20plan.pdf Brady, R. (2007). Learning to stop, stopping to learn:  Discovering the contemplative dimension in education. Journal of Transformative Education 5(4), 372–​394. Brady, R. (2008). Realizing true education with mindfulness. Journal of the Sociology of Self-​Knowledge 6(3),  87–​97. Bruneau, T. (2009). Empathy and listening:  A conceptual review and theoretical directions. International Listening Association Journal 3(1), 1–​20. doi:  10.1207/​ s1932586xijl0301_​2 Brunfaut, T., & Révész, A. (2015). The role of task and listener characteristics in second language listening. TESOL Quarterly 49(1), 141–​168. Burley-​Allen, M. (1982). Listening: The forgotten skill. New York, NY: Wiley. Campbell, L. (2009). Mindful learning: 101 proven strategies for student and teacher success (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Chamot, A.U., & O’Malley, J.M. (1994). The CALLA handbook: Implementing the cognitive academic language learning approach. White Plains, NY: Addison Wesley Longman. Chang, A.C.-​S. (2011). The effect of reading while listening to audiobooks: Listening fluency and vocabulary gain. Asian Journal of English Language Teaching 21,  43–​64. Chang, A.C.-​S., & Millett, S. (2014). The effect of extensive listening on developing L2 listening fluency: Some hard evidence. ELT Journal 68(1), 31–​40. doi: 10.1093/​ elt/​cct052  31 Chang, A.C-​ S., & Millett, S. (2016). Developing L2 listening fluency through extended listening-​focused activities in an extensive listening programme. RELC Journal 47(3), 349–​362. doi: 10.1177/​0033688216631175


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Chang, C., & Chang, C.-​K. (2014). Developing students’ listening metacognitive strategies using online videotext self-​dictation-​generation learning activity. EuroCALL Review 22(1),  3–​19. Cohen, A. D., Oxford & Chi, J. C. (2002). Language strategy use survey. Minneapolis, MN:  Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition, University of Minnesota Cooper, C., & Boyd, J. (1996). Mindful learning. Tasmania, Australia:  Global Learning Communities. Ehrich, J.F., & Henderson, D.B. (2018). Rasch analysis of the Metacognitive Awareness Listening Questionnaire (MALQ). International Journal of Listening 00, 1–​13. doi: 10.1080/​10904018.2017.1418350 (Online, preprint version) Feyten, C.M. (1991). The power of listening ability: An overlooked dimension in language acquisition. Modern Language Journal 75, 173–​180. Flavell, J.H. (1979). Metacognition and cognitive monitoring: A new area of cognitive development enquiry. American Psychologist 34, 906–​911. Gearhart, C.C., Denham, J.P., & Bodie, G.D. (2014). Listening as a goal-​directed activity. Western Journal of Communication 78(5), 668–​ 684. doi:  10.1080/​ 10570314.2014.910888 Goh, C. (2002). Exploring listening comprehension tactics and their interaction patterns. System 30(2), 185–​206. Goh, C., & Hu, G. (2014). Exploring the relationship between metacognitive awareness and listening performance with questionnaire data. Language Awareness 23(3), 255–​274. doi: 10.1080/​09658416.2013.76955 Graham, S. (2011). Self-​ efficacy and academic listening. Journal of English for Academic Purposes 10, 113–​117. Graham, S., & Macaro, E. (2008). Strategy instruction in listening for lower-​ intermediate learners of French. Language Learning 58(4), 747–​783. Graham, S., & Santos, D. (2015). Strategies for second language listening:  Current scenarios and improved pedagogy. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan. Graham, S., Santos, D., & Francis-​Brophy, E. (2014). Teacher beliefs about listening in a foreign language. Teaching and Teacher Education 40,  44–​60. Graham, S., Santos, D., & Vanderplank, R. (2011). Exploring the relationship between listening development and strategy use. Language Teaching Research, 15, 435–​456. doi: 10.1177/​1362168811412026 Gregersen, T., & MacIntyre, P.D. (2017). Optimizing language learners’ nonverbal behavior: From tenet to technique. Bristol, England: Multilingual Matters. Gu, Y., Hu, G., & Zhang, L.J. (2009). Listening strategies of Singaporean primary pupils. In R. Silver, C. Goh, & L. Alsagoff (eds.), Language learning in new English contexts (pp. 55–​74). London, England: Continuum International Publishing. Gunaratana, B.H. (2002). Mindfulness in plain English (Rev. edition). Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications. Hassed, C., & Chambers, R. (2015). Mindful learning:  Reduce stress and improve brain performance for effective learning. Boston, MA: Shambhala. Hinkel, E. 2010. Integrating the four skills: Current and historical perspectives. In R. B. Kaplan (ed.), Oxford handbook in applied linguistics (2nd edition) (pp. 110–​ 126). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. Ishihara, N., & Cohen, A.D. (2014). Teaching and learning pragmatics: Where language and culture meet. New York, NY: Routledge.




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Jafari, K., & Hashim, F. (2012). The effects of using advance organizers on improving EFL learners’ listening comprehension:  A mixed method study. System 40(2), 270–​281. doi: 10.1016/​j.system.2012.04.009 King, J. (2002, February). Using DVD feature films in the EFL classroom. ELT Newsletter.​back/​February2002/​art882002.htm Langer, E.J. (1997). The power of mindful learning. Reading, MA: Perseus Books. Langer, E.J. (2000). Mindful learning. Current Directions in Psychological Science 9(6), 220–​223. Lynch, T. (2009). Teaching second language listening. Oxford, England:  Oxford University Press. Ma, R., & Oxford, R.L. (2014). A diary study focusing on listening and speaking: The evolving interaction of learning styles and learning strategies in a motivated, advanced ESL learner. In R.L. Oxford & C. Griffiths (eds.), Special issue, Language learning strategy research in the twenty-​first century. System: International Journal of Educational Technology and Applied Linguistics 43, 101–​113. Macaro, E., Graham, S., & Vanderplank, R.N. (2007). A review of listening strategies: Focus on sources of knowledge and on success. In A. Cohen & E. Macaro (eds.), Language learner strategies (pp. 165–​ 185). Oxford, England:  Oxford University Press. Matthews, J. (2017). Vocabulary for listening:  Emerging evidence for high and mid-​frequency vocabulary knowledge. System 72, 23–​36. doi:  10.1016/​j.system. 2017.10.005 Matthews, J., & Cheng, J. (2015). Recognition of high frequency words from speech as a predictor of L2 listening comprehension. System 52, 1–​13. doi:  10.1016/​ j.system.2015.04.015 Mendelsohn, D. (1984). There ARE strategies for listening. TEAL Occasional Papers 8,  63–​76. Mendelsohn, D. (2006). Learning how to listen using learning strategies. In A. Martínez-​ Flor & E. Usó-​ Juan (eds.), Current trends in the development and teaching of the four language skills (pp. 74–​90). Berlin, Germany: De Gruyter. Mendelsohn, D., & Rubin, J. (1995). A guide for the teaching of second language listening. San Diego, CA: Dominie Press. Mercer, S. (2016). Seeing the world through your eyes: Empathy in language learning and teaching. In P.D. MacIntyre, T. Gregersen, & S. Mercer (eds.), Positive psychology in SLA (pp. 91–​111). Bristol, England: Multilingual Matters. Nguyen, H., & Abbott, M.L. (2016). Promoting process-​oriented listening instruction in the ESL classroom. TESL Canada Journal 34(1),  74–​86. Nunan, D. (1997). Listening in language learning. Language Teacher 21(9),  47–​51. Olivero, M.M. (2017). Cultivating peace via language teaching: Pre-​service teachers’ beliefs and emotions in an Argentine EFL practicum. Unpublished dissertation, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA. O’Malley, J.M., Chamot, A.U., & Küpper, L. (1989). Listening comprehension strategies in second language acquisition. Applied Linguistics 10(4), 418–​437. O’Malley, J.M., Chamot, A.U., Stewner-​Manzanares, G., Russo, R.P., & Küpper, L. (1985). Learning strategy applications with students of English as a second language. TESOL Quarterly 19(3), 557–​584. Oxford, R.L. (1990). Language learning strategies: What every teacher should know. Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.


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Oxford, R.L. (1993). Research update on teaching L2 listening. System 21(2), 205–​211. Oxford, R.L. (1999). Relationships between second language learning strategies and language proficiency in the context of learner autonomy and self-​regulation. Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 38, 108–​126. Oxford, R.L. (2001, January–​February) Integrated skills in the ESL/​EFL classroom. ESL Magazine 6(1), 18–​20. Also:  Oxford, R.L. (2001). Integrated skills in the ESL/​EFL classroom. Journal of TESOL France 8 (C1 ff.). www.tesol-​​ uploaded_​files/​files/​ Oxford, R.L. (2011). Teaching and researching language learning strategies. Harlow, England: Pearson/​Longman. Oxford, R.L. (2015). Expanded perspectives on autonomous learners. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching 9(1), 58–​71. doi: 10.1080/​17501229.2014.995765 Oxford, R.L. (2017). Teaching and researching language learning strategies:  Self-​ regulation in context (2nd edition). New York, NY: Routledge. Oxford, R.L., & Lin, C.-​Y. (2011). Autonomous learners in digital realms: Exploring strategies for effective digital learning. In B. Morrison (ed.), Independent language learning: Where innovation meets application. Hong Kong: Independent Learning Association/​Hong Kong Polytechnic University Press. Powietrzyńska, M. (2014). Promoting wellness through mindfulness-​based activities. Unpublished dissertation, Graduate Faculty in Urban Education, City University of New York. Reynandya, W.A., & Farrell, T.S.C. (2011). “Teacher, the tape is too fast!”: Extensive listening in ELT. ELT Journal 65(1),  52–​59. Richards, J.C. (1990). The language teaching matrix. New  York, NY:  Cambridge University Press. Richards, J.C., & Burns, A. (2012). Tips for teaching listening: A practical approach. White Plains, NY: Pearson. Rost, M. (2011). Teaching and researching listening. Harlow, England:  Pearson/​ Longman. Rost, M. (2014a). Listening in a multilingual world: The challenges of second language (L2) listening. International Journal of Listening 28(3), 131–​148. Rost, M. (2014b). Developing listening fluency in Asian EFL settings. In T. Muller, J. Adamson, P.S. Brown, & S. Herder (eds.), Exploring EFL fluency in Asia (pp. 281–​296). Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan. Rubin, J. (1994). A review of second language listening comprehension research. Modern Language Journal 78(2), 199–​221. Rubin, J. (2001). Language learner self-​ management. Journal of Asian Pacific Communication 11(1),  25–​37. Sakuma, Y. (2013). Listening. In M. Byram & A. Hu (eds.), Routledge encyclopedia of language teaching and learning (2nd edition) (pp. 428–​431). New York, NY: Routledge. Salem, R. (2003). Empathic listening. In G. Burgess & H. Burgess (eds.), Beyond intractability. Boulder, CO:  Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado.​essay/​empathic_​listening Santos, D., & Graham, S. (2018). What teachers say about listening and its pedagogy:  A comparison between two countries. In A. Burns & J. Siegel (eds.), International perspectives on teaching the four skills in ELT: Listening, speaking, reading, and writing (pp. 21–​36). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.




Teaching and Researching Listening Skills  33

Schmidt, R. (1990). The role of consciousness in second language learning. Applied Linguistics 11, 129–​155. Schmidt, R. (1995) Attention and awareness in foreign language learning. Honolulu, Hawai’i: University of Hawai’i, Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center. Schmidt, R. (2010). Attention, awareness, and individual differences in language learning. In W.M. Chan, S. Chi, K.N. Cin, J. Istanto, M. Nagami, J.W. Sew, T. Suthiwan, & I. Walker (eds.), Proceedings of CLaSIC 2010, Singapore (pp. 721–​ 737). Singapore: National University of Singapore, Centre for Language Studies. Siegel, D. (2007). The mindful brain. New York, NY: Norton. Siegel, J. (2015). Exploring listening strategy instruction through action research. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan. Siegel, J. (2018). Learning listening. In A. Burns & J.C. Richards (eds.), The Cambridge guide to learning English as a second language (pp. 195–​ 203). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Timpson, W. (2010). Bridging faith, values, understanding, and life skills. In E.J. Brantmeier, J. Lin, & J.P. Miller (eds.), Spirituality, religion, and peace education (pp. 227–​239). Charlotte, NC: Information Age. Tragant, E., Muñoz, C., & Spada, N. (2016). Maximizing young learners’ input: An intervention program. Canadian Modern Language Review/​La Revue canadienne des langues vivantes 72(2), 234–​257. doi: 10.3138/​cmlr.2942 Tragant, E., & Vallabona, A. (2018). Reading while listening to learn: Young EFL learners’ perceptions. ELT Journal 72(4), 395–​404. doi: 10.1093/​elt/​ccy009 Tsui, A.B.M., & Fullilove, J. (1998). Bottom-​up or top-​down processing as a discriminator of L2 listening performance. Applied Linguistics 19, 432–​451. Vandergrift, L. (1997). The Cinderella of communication strategies: Reception strategies in interactive listening. Modern Language Journal 81(4), 494–​505. Vandergrift, L. (2003). Orchestrating strategy use:  Toward a model of the skilled second language listener. Language Learning 53(3), 463–​ 496. doi:  10.1111/​ 1467–​9922.00232. Vandergrift, L. (2004). Listening to learn or learning to listen? Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 24,  3–​25. Vandergrift, L. (2007). Recent developments in second and foreign language listening comprehension research. Language Teaching 40(3), 191–​210. Vandergrift, V., & Baker. S. (2015). Learner variables in second language listening: An exploratory path analysis. Language Learning 65(2), 390–​416. Vandergrift, L., & Goh, C. (2012). Teaching and learning second language listening: Metacognition in action. New York, NY: Routledge. Vandergrift, L., Goh, C., Mareschal, C., & Tafaghodtari, M. (2006). The Metacognitive Awareness Listening Questionnaire: Development and validation. Language Learning 56(3), 431–​462. Vandergrift, L., & Tafaghodtari, M.H. (2010). Teaching L2 learners how to listen does make a difference:  An empirical study. Language Learning 60, 470–​497. doi: 10.1111/​j.1467-​9922.2009.00559.x Vygotsky, L.V. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Vygotsky, L.V. (1981). The genesis of higher mental functions. In J. Wertsch (ed.), The concept of activity in Soviet psychology. Armonk, NY: Sharpe. Wang, Y., & Liu, C. (2016). Cultivate mindfulness: A case study of mindful learning in an English as a Foreign Language classroom. IAFOR Journal of Education 4(2). doi: 10.22492/​ije.4.2.08


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Wenden, A. (1991). Learner strategies for learner autonomy. London, England: Prentice-​Hall. Wu, Y. (1998). What do tests of listening comprehension test? A retrospection study of EFL test takers performing a multiple-​choice task. Language Testing 15,  21–​44. Zeng, Y., & Goh, C.C.M. (2018). A self-​regulated learning approach to extensive listening and its impact on listening achievement and metacognitive awareness. In R. Oxford & M. Pawlak (eds.), Special issue, Language learning strategies: Linking with the past, shaping the future (pp. 193–​ 218). Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching 8(2), 193–​218. doi: 10.14746/​ssllt.2018.8.2.2 Zhou, Y., & Wei, M. (2018). Strategies in technology-​enhanced language learning. In R.L. Oxford & M. Pawlak (eds.), Special issue, Language learning strategies:  Linking with the past, shaping the future. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching 8(2), 471–​495. doi: 10.14746/​ssllt.2018.8.2.13 Zúñiga Vargas, J.P. (2015). Listening cloze meets info-​gap: A hybrid activity to exploit listening materials. English Teaching Forum 53(4),  24–​32.





1  Introduction Rapidly increasing globalization has promoted visible growth in the demand for individuals with high levels of proficiency in foreign languages. Over the past three decades, the language teaching community has made substantial efforts in transforming curriculum and instruction in foreign language programs. A  promising trend emerging from such endeavors is an endorsement of intellectually challenging, content-​driven, approaches to foreign language pedagogy. Reading ability plays a central role in any form of content-​based instruction as an essential tool for content meaning construction and analysis. Despite its centrality, a consensus has yet to occur as to what constitutes reading ability, how it enhances language development, and how we can best promote the ability in second language (L2) classrooms. In an attempt to address these questions, this chapter describes how reading ability has been conceptualized in first language (L1) reading research over the past four decades, how reading ability and linguistic knowledge are related, and how L2 classroom instruction can best enhance reading ability. It also presents a framework for a theory-​guided approach that aims to promote broad-​based reading ability (reading to learn) in L2 classrooms.

2  Theories about Reading and Language Learning In seeking an optimal way to promote reading ability, we must first understand what this ability entails, how it develops, and what supports its development. To this end, this section describes a brief history of conceptual changes in the views of reading, and what has emerged as a current consensus from the multiple waves of “paradigm” shifts in reading research.


36  Keiko Koda

2.1  The Top-​Down Perspective In the early days of reading research in the 1960s and early 1970s, two diametrically opposing views dominated the field. One regarded reading as an indivisible whole, while the other took the view that reading is a constellation of distinct abilities. As a strong proponent of the holistic view, for example, Goodman (1967, 1969) contended that since learning to read is a natural process during the course of human development, it should be learned as a whole through communication, and that component skills, such as decoding, should not be taught in isolation. The holistic view held that comprehension occurs through a conceptually driven “top-​down” process, in which the reader makes sense of a text by drawing on her prior knowledge and experiences. According to the “psycholinguistic guessing game” model (Goodman, 1973), the main tasks of the reader are generating a hypothesis to predict the forthcoming content using her background knowledge and confirming the hypothesis using words in the text.

2.2  The Bottom-​Up Perspective In the subsequent decades, the top-​down conceptualization received little support from empirical studies. Eye movement research, for example, has repeatedly reported that most content words received direct visual fixation (Balota, Pollasek, & Rayner, 1985; Just & Carpenter, 1980, 1987) and that the absence of even a single letter was disruptive, heavily diminishing reading efficiency (McConkie & Zola, 1981; Rayner & Bertera, 1979). Contrary to the predictions from the top-​down conceptualization, these findings indicate that the majority of words in a text receive direct visual attention during reading. Studies have shown that text comprehension could be disrupted even by a single word (Kintsch, 1998), suggesting that the emerging interpretation of a text (top-​down processing) does not override the information retrieved from a word in the text (bottom-​up processing).

2.3  The Interactive Perspective Current theories of reading uniformly underscore the interactive nature of reading by encapsulating both conceptually driven top-​down processes and text-​based bottom-​up operations. In interactive models, reading is described as a dynamic process through which the reader connects graphically encoded linguistic information with her real-​life knowledge. Similarly, comprehension is regarded as a product evolving from the continual reader–​text interaction. As such, the interactive view presupposes that text meanings are built through several interlinked operations at each processing level, such as letters, letter clusters, words, phrases, and so on. As such, it also assumes




Theory-Guided Reading Instruction  37

that each operation necessitates a distinct facet of linguistic knowledge for its execution (Koda, 2007). Thus, the interactive perspective gives equal weight to top-​down conceptual manipulation and bottom-​up information processing, and in so doing, acknowledges the centrality of linguistic knowledge in reading as the medium though which sequences of graphic symbols on the page are connected with real-​life experiences of the reader stored in memory. In conceptualizing reading pedagogy in L2 classrooms, it is essential that the emerging understanding of the role of linguistic knowledge is the connector that mediates the reader–​text interaction during reading.

2.4  The Role of Linguistic Knowledge in Reading Reading is a process of constructing text meanings by linking graphically encoded linguistic information with real-​life knowledge of the reader. As such, it entails building a text base and personalization (connecting text information with real-​life knowledge). While the latter is conceptual, the former is essentially linguistic, and achieved through three operations –​word form analysis, word meaning retrieval, and word meaning integration (Koda, 2016). Each operation demands distinct facets of linguistic knowledge for its execution. This section describes the specific ways in which diverse facets of linguistic knowledge contribute to building a linguistic text base.

2.4.1  Word Form Analysis Orthographic processing. Well-​developed orthographic knowledge affords rapid and effortless access to a word’s phonological and morphological information stored in memory. A  good reader recognizes many words instantly and holistically. She is also adept at analyzing the graphic form of an unfamiliar word, such as letters and letter clusters, to infer its pronunciation and meaning (e.g., Ehri, 1998, 2014; Hogaboam & Perfetti, 1978; Shankweiler & Liberman, 1972; Share 2008). Seidenberg and McClelland (1989) define orthographic knowledge as “an elaborate matrix of correlations among letter patterns, phonemes, syllables, and morphemes” (p. 525). The inter-​ letter associative network for a particular word evolves gradually through a cumulative experience of decoding and encoding the word in its graphic form. The more frequently a particular pattern of letter sequences is experienced, the stronger the associations that hold them together. Familiar words, in essence, are recognized seamlessly because all of their orthographic elements are well connected and solidly represented in memory. This allows the reader to identify their lexical identity at a glance, which grants her immediate access to their meanings (Adams, 1990; Ehri, 1998, 2014; Seidenberg & McClelland, 1989). Once formed, Ehri (2014) contends, “orthographic


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knowledge becomes a powerful mnemonic device that bond the spellings, pronunciations, and meanings of specific words in memory” (p. 5). Phonological processing. Word form analysis is also necessary for accessing, storing, and manipulating phonological information (Torgesen & Burgess, 1998). Studies involving English-​ speaking children have consistently documented that poor readers are handicapped in a variety of phonological tasks. Their deficiencies tend to be “longitudinally predictive, and relatively unaffected by non-​phonological factors –​such as general intelligence, vocabulary knowledge, or visual processing” (Share & Stanovich, 1995, p. 9). Researchers agree that efficiency in phonological decoding is one of the causal factors that determine the levels of achievement in word reading, vocabulary learning, and text comprehension. Morpheme knowledge and morphological awareness. As the smallest functioning unit in the composition of words, morphemes serve as the basis for word formation. Because morphemes convey grammatical and semantic information, both word form analysis and word meaning retrieval necessitate knowledge of morphemes. Morphological awareness emerges early in spoken language development through the process of mapping particular grammatical information, such as plurality and tense, onto specific patterns of sounds in speech. In learning to read, a child relies on her sensitivity to the internal structure of words in uncovering how morphemes are graphically encoded in her writing system (Ehri, 2014; Frost, 2012; Nunes & Bryant, 2006). Morpheme knowledge and morphological awareness jointly contribute to word recognition, word meaning inference, and text comprehension. They become more critical when the child encounters increasingly more complex words later in her primary and secondary school education. According to Nagy and Anderson (1984), roughly 60% of the new words children encounter in printed school materials are structurally transparent multi-​morphemic words, such as “fire-​ fight-​er” and “un-​lady-​like.” The meaning of at least half the new words could be inferred through morphological decomposition.

2.4.2  Word Meaning Retrieval Vocabulary knowledge. Knowledge of word meanings and the ability to retrieve them through word form analysis are connected directly and reciprocally with every one of the other operations in reading. As an illustration, word meaning retrieval depends on accurate and speedy word form analysis (orthography, phonology, and morphology) as well as local text-​meaning construction for deriving the context-​appropriate meaning of the word. Conversely, vocabulary knowledge mediates the connection between the graphic form of a word in a text and the reader’s knowledge about the referent of the object the word represents. Such mediation is necessary because stored knowledge of word




Theory-Guided Reading Instruction  39

forms has an arbitrary relation to meaning representations associated with real-​life experiences (Schreuder & Flores d’Arcais, 1992). Word meanings in a way serve as passcodes to one’s knowledge bases as they include “information about the things to which words refer –​be they related to the external world or internal states of the mind” (p. 422). As a complex construct, vocabulary knowledge emerges gradually through repeated encounters with a word referring to a particular object, event, or property in particular situations. Because words convey different senses in different contexts, word meaning retrieval must include the selection of the sense that best fits the context in which the word appears. As an illustration, the word “car” can evoke all the different images of cars stored in memory –​ranging from a sleek convertible car to a wrecked car in a scrapyard. The selection of the context-​appropriate meaning (sense) of the word depends on the emerging interpretation of the local text in which its meaning is to be incorporated. Anderson and Nagy (1991) underscore the importance of the ability to “apply the meaning of a word flexibly but accurately in a range of new contexts and situations” (p. 721).

2.4.3  Word Meaning Integration Syntactic knowledge. Sentence comprehension entails the incremental integration of individual word meanings in such a way that an integrated “chunk” reflects the overall meaning of larger text units, such as phrases and clauses. The integration process, often referred to as “syntactic parsing,” involves two major operations:  Phrase construction through word meaning integration and case assignments to the constructed phrases. To illustrate, the sentence “Nancy tapped the man with the cane” allows two interpretations regarding the cane holder. If the phrase “with the cane” is taken as a modifier of the verb “tapped,” Nancy is the cane holder. If, on the other hand, the phrase is interpreted to modify “the man,” the cane should be in his hand. Hence, decisions regarding phrase attachment have major semantic consequences, and syntactic knowledge is integral to this process. Discourse knowledge. To build coherent text representations, local text meanings must be integrated across sentences and paragraphs. A text’s surface structure offers a variety of reliable clues signaling coherence relations among text elements. As a case in point, significant information often is placed in prominent text locations to highlight its relative weight (e.g., at the beginning of a text) and connection with other text segments in detectable ways (e.g., at the end of a paragraph) (Goldman & Rakestraw, 2000). Linguistic devices are also used to achieve text coherence, such as connectives and co-​references. Studies have demonstrated that knowledge of coherence devices differs considerably among native English-​speaking


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children (e.g., Garner, Alexander, Slater, Hare, Smith, & Reis, 1986); that explicit training on coherence awareness tends to improve text comprehension and memory (e.g., Pearson & Fielding, 1991); that explicit demonstrations of text organization generally improve text comprehension (e.g., Baumann & Bergeron, 1993; Buss, Ratliff, & Irion, 1985); and that efforts to increase the structural salience of a text facilitate comprehension (e.g., Anderson & Davison, 1988; Beck & Dole, 1992). It is important to note that while knowledge of discourse structure and coherence devices promotes global text comprehension, its acquisition only occurs through substantial reading experience. To sum up, reading entails an assortment of diverse skills, each necessitating a distinct facet of linguistic knowledge. Without sufficient knowledge of the language, it is impossible to build accurate and coherent text representations. The reverse is also true, however –​that is, reading promotes language learning. Linguistic knowledge can be substantially expanded and refined when it is used purposefully during reading for text meaning construction. Reading ability and linguistic knowledge thus are developmentally reciprocal, mutually enhancing their augmentation and refinement.

2.5  Implications for L2 Reading Research Reading ability in an L2 builds on skill development of L2 linguistic knowledge and well-​established L1 cognitive and conceptual resources, including reading skills (Alderson, 1984; Koda, 2007). To achieve high levels of proficiency in reading, the learner must acquire sufficient linguistic knowledge (vocabulary and grammar, in particular) that allows for building a linguistic text base. As described earlier, however, linguistic knowledge alone is far from sufficient for acquiring broad-​based reading ability that allows for personalization of text information. To generate personalized meanings, the learner must also learn to use her emerging L2 linguistic knowledge for connecting text information with her prior knowledge across languages. To address this and other complex issues uniquely associated with L2 reading, research has begun to incorporate sophisticated analytical procedures, including (a)  cross-​ linguistic analysis (in-​ depth descriptions and comparisons of specific linguistic and orthographic features in two languages), (b)  construct trait analysis (segmenting reading ability into its components), (c)  construct-​referenced tasks (designing multiple tasks for measuring specific reading components), (d)  covariance analysis (statistically adjusting non-​focal variables), and (e)  latent variable analysis (statistically estimating a set of latent variables from observable variables). Two questions are particularly pertinent in this line of research:




Theory-Guided Reading Instruction  41

• •

What are the relative contributions of L2 linguistic knowledge and L1 reading ability (non-linguistic resources) to L2 reading? How does L2 linguistic knowledge alter the use of L1 resources in L2 reading?

3  Review of Current Research This section presents a review of L2 reading research articles that have explored the reader–​text interaction across languages. Because L2 reading entails a broad range of learners across ages, languages, and social contexts, the scope was set by defining learner, learning, and context. In this context, the term second language learners applies to those who have acquired basic literacy skills in their L1 by the time they learn to read in an additional language (Grade 3 and above). The term second language pertains to an additional language that is not used as the medium of communication or instruction in the context where it is learned. Similarly, language learning refers to learning that occurs through formal classroom instruction.

3.1  Selection Criteria Based on the review questions presented earlier, an initial list of studies was created based on previously published review articles addressing cross-​ linguistic issues in L2 reading (Koda, 2007, 2016, 2018). Three databases (ERIC, PsychINFO, and JSTOR) were then consulted to locate additional studies published in the past two decades. Approximately 43 studies were identified through the searches. To select 10 studies for the review, a set of criteria was employed. Three exclusion criteria were used to remove publications that express opinions and thoughts, include no data analysis, and describe teaching tools and experiences. Similarly, five inclusion criteria were applied. Studies must include descriptions of (a)  explicit theoretical grounding, (b)  reading ability, (c)  predictors and independent variables, (d)  measures for reading ability and linguistic knowledge, and (e) data analysis procedures. Table 3.1 shows the main attributes of the selected studies. These studies were grouped into three categories based on their research questions and foci: (1) The relative contributions of L1 reading ability as resources and L2 linguistic knowledge, (2) the long-​term effects of L1 resources on L2 reading development, and (3) the role of L2 linguistic knowledge in the use of L1 resources.

3.2  The Relative Contributions of L1 Reading and L2 Linguistic Knowledge Three studies directly tested one or both of Cummins’ hypotheses (1979) by comparing the weights of L1 reading ability and L2 linguistic knowledge in


TABLE 3.1  Summary of 10 selected articles examining L2 reading ability and its

development: Each article’s source, focus, context, and research methodology Source




The Relative Contributions of L1 Reading and L2 Linguistic Knowledge Lee & Schallert, Contributions of L2 809 Korean EFL Paper-​pencil  1997 proficiency, L1 learners, 9th and tests reading ability to 10th graders Multiple regression L2 reading Korea analysis Jiang, 2011 Contributions of L2 246 college EFL Paper-​pencil proficiency, L1 learners standardized reading ability to tests, Multiple China L2 reading regression analysis Yamashita & L2 listening 325 college EFL Paper-​pencil Shiotsu, learners standardized  L2 linguistic 2015 tests. knowledge, Japan Rasch analysis, L2 reading SEM The Long-​Term Effects of L1 Resources on L2 Reading Development Sparks, Patton, L2 aptitude, grade, 54 high school ANOVA, Ganschow, decoding, spelling, students learning MANOVA & Humbach, comprehension, French, German, 2009 PA, vocabulary, and Spanish listening United States comprehension Nakamura, Decoding, 54 EFL learners Regression Koda, & comprehension, India Joshi, 2014 listening Grade 3–​5 to 6–​8 Oral vocabulary Zhang, Koda, & Morphological Malay as a heritage Paper-​and-​pencil Leong, awareness, word language, Grades tests, SEM 2016 meaning inference 3–​4 Singapore Zhang & Koda, L2 word meaning 195 Chinese as a Paper-​ pencil 2018 inference, heritage language, tests, SEM, morphological college multiple awareness, regression United States oral language exposure, oral and print vocabulary The Role of L2 Linguistic Knowledge in the Use of L1 Resources Horiba & Topic familiarity, 145 EFL Paper-​pencil  tests Fukaya, 2015 reading goal, College Covariance L2 proficiency, analysis, Japan ANOVA L2 reading, lexical inference




Theory-Guided Reading Instruction  43 TABLE 3.1  (Cont.)

Source Zhang, 2013


Derivational and compound morphological awareness, word meaning inference Ke & Koda, 2017 Word meaning inference, morphological awareness



204 EFL Grade 6 students China

Paper-​pencil tests, SEM

50 CFL, College, US

Online task, paper-​and-​ pencil tests Correlation hierarchical regression

explaining the variance in L2 reading ability. Lee and Schallert (1997) tested the threshold hypothesis by comparing the proportions of the variance in L2 reading accounted for by L1 reading ability and second language proficiency among 809 high school students learning English in Korea. Their analyses showed that L2 linguistic knowledge accounted for nearly twice as much variance in L2 reading (r2 = 0.56) as did L1 reading (r2 = 0.30). The study also revealed that reading scores in the two languages were more closely related among higher-​proficiency learners than their lowerproficiency counterparts. The researchers concluded that L2 linguistic knowledge is a stronger predictor of L2 reading ability, and that a sufficient level of linguistic knowledge is necessary for L2 learners to draw on their L1 reading ability. Using 246 college students in China, Jiang also investigated the relative contributions of L1 reading and L2 linguistic knowledge. Her results corroborate those from the studies described earlier. L2 linguistic knowledge accounted for 35% of the variance in L2 reading in one measure and 27% in another while L1 reading explained only 6% of the variance of L2 reading in both measures. A study involving 325 college students studying English in Japan (Yamashita & Shiotsu, 2015) yielded an even more dramatic contrast between L2 linguistic knowledge and L1 reading –​that is, virtually all the variance (94%) in L2 reading was accounted for by L2 linguistic knowledge, which, in the study, was treated as a latent variable comprised of grammar, vocabulary, and listening comprehension. Their follow-​up analysis conducted with a subgroup of higher-​proficiency participants revealed a small but statistically significant contribution of L1 reading ability. In sum, the three studies clearly demonstrated that knowledge of the target language is a far stronger predictor of L2 reading among college


44  Keiko Koda

and high school language learners. They also showed that the contribution of L1 reading ability is visible only in high-​proficiency learners within each participant group. These findings support the linguistic threshold hypothesis posing that sufficient knowledge of the language is necessary for using L1 reading skills and other resources during L2 reading. Caution must be exercised, however, in interpreting these findings. Considering that the tasks used for estimating L2 reading were constructed as part of language proficiency measures, it is possible that L2 reading tests share more similar  properties with those used to assess language proficiency than L1 reading ability measures. If this is the case, the contribution of L2 knowledge has been overestimated and that of L1 reading ability grossly underestimated.

3.3  The Long-​Term Effects of L1 Resources on L2 Reading Development Four studies examined the long-​ term effects of L1 foundational skills acquired earlier on L2 reading development multiple years later. Sparks and colleagues (2009) investigated how L1 basic skills, such as decoding, spelling, vocabulary, and listening comprehension, measured across multiple grades in primary school predict L2 reading achievement later in high school (N = 54). Their data showed that the composite L1 scores were significantly higher among high-​achieving learners than those of low-achievers. Initially, however, the difference in the L1 basic skills among high-​and low-​achieving learners was negligible, but gradually widened as they moved through the curriculum. These results were interpreted as suggesting that L1 basic skills may be an important source of individual differences in L2 reading development. Nakamura, Koda, and Joshi (2014) tracked the reading development of multilingual students (N = 67) in low-​income urban communities in India over three years. The study focused on the longitudinal contributions of phonological awareness and decoding in Kannada (the medium of instruction) and English (an additional language) in Grades 3–​5 (Time 1) to reading comprehension in Grades 6–​8 (Time 2). Their data showed that phonological awareness and decoding were closely related between the languages at Time 1, that phonological awareness in Kannada contributed to decoding in English at Time 1, and that Time 1 decoding predicted Time 2 reading comprehension within each language, but not across languages. Viewed together, these findings suggest that the basic skills acquired earlier in the dominant language provide long-​term facilitation in reading development in both dominant and additional languages. The basic skills in the dominant language contribute to reading development in an additional language, but only indirectly through their corresponding skills in the additional language.




Theory-Guided Reading Instruction  45

A third study in this category (Zhang, Koda, & Leong, 2016) examined the contribution of morphological awareness to word meaning inference in bilingual children learning to read Malay (home language) and English (school language) in Singapore. They collected data twice at the end of Grade 3 (Time 1) and the end of the first semester of Grade 4 (Time 2). The study revealed that morphological awareness predicted word meaning inference within each language both at Time 1 and at Time 2.  Morphological awareness in English had a significant but indirect effect on lexical inference in Malay (additional). These results corroborate the results from the two studies described earlier, implying that as a foundational competence, morphological awareness in the dominant language bolsters reading development in an additional language both concurrently and longitudinally. A fourth study in this category (Zhang & Koda, 2018) examined how early exposure to a non-​societal language at home affected reading development later in that language among Chinese language learners enrolled in intermediate Chinese at a U.S. university (N = 195) at the time of data collection. The researchers compared the contributions of oral vocabulary knowledge, print vocabulary knowledge, and morphological awareness to L2 reading comprehension between students who grew up in a home where Chinese was used (heritage) and those who had no early exposure to Chinese (non-​heritage). Drawing on structural equation modeling with a bootstrap estimation method, the study found that heritage language learners outperformed their non-​heritage counterparts on oral vocabulary knowledge, morphological awareness, and lexical inferencing ability, but the groups did not differ in print vocabulary knowledge. Critically, print vocabulary knowledge was the strongest predictor of lexical inferencing ability in both groups. These findings suggest that early exposure to spoken language enhances the development of oral vocabulary knowledge, but this knowledge alone does not distinguish reading development among heritage and non-​heritage language learners. Viewed together, the findings from the four studies uniformly suggest that the basic skills acquired in one language have long-​term positive impacts on later reading development in an additional language. It is important to note that such facilitation is not likely to occur unless those “early” skills are acquired through print experience (e.g., bedtime reading).

3.4  The Role of L2 Linguistic Knowledge in the Use of L1 Resources Three studies examined, though implicitly, the role of L2 linguistic knowledge in the use of L1 resources in L2 reading. Horiba and Fukeya (2015) investigated how L1 topic-​related knowledge and L2 proficiency affected L2 text comprehension and incidental vocabulary learning. Their participants were two groups of college students (nursing majors and non-​ nursing


46  Keiko Koda

majors) in Japan (N  =  145). By comparing text comprehension and incidental vocabulary learning between the groups, the researchers found that L2 linguistic knowledge and L1 background knowledge (topic familiarity) contributed to text comprehension differently. While L2 knowledge facilitated global text understanding, background knowledge enhanced the retention of detailed, topic-​relevant information. Using covariance analyses, the researchers found that the facilitative effect of L1 knowledge was observable only when L2 linguistic knowledge was controlled. These results imply that L2 linguistic knowledge, or a lack thereof, restricts the incorporation of L1 resources during L2 reading. Zhang (2013) examined the cross-​linguistic transfer of morphological awareness (MA) and its relation to L2 word meaning inference between two typological diverse languages (Chinese and English) among Grade 6 students learning English as a foreign language in China (N  =  204). To capture variations in morphological formation in the two languages, the researcher analyzed the construct into two facets (derivation and compound). He found that the dominant MA facet (compound) in Chinese contributed more to the development of the corresponding facet in English than did the less dominant (derivation) MA facet. Using structural equation modeling, the study also revealed that L1 compound awareness made a significant but indirect contribution to L2 word meaning inferencing. Given the close relationship between L1 and L2 MA, the indirect impact of L1 MA on L2 lexical inference was interpreted as suggesting that L2 MA mediated the contribution of L1 MA to L2 lexical inferencing. Thus, the study yielded additional evidence supporting the linguistic constraints (L2 knowledge) on the utilization of L1 resources during L2 reading. Subsequently, Ke and Koda (2017) tested the hypothesized role of L2 knowledge as a mediator that allows the learner to access her L1 resources in L2 reading. The researchers compared the recontributions of L1 and L2 morphological awareness (MA) to L2 word meaning inferencing in English-​ speaking college students learning Chinese (N = 50) in the United States. In a segmentation task, the participants responded differently to pseudo-​words each containing an affix and a two-​character string and nonce-​words each consisting of three unrelated characters. Their segmentation performance was better and faster with pseudo-​words than nonce-​words. Their analyses showed that L1 MA made a unique contribution to the formation of L2 MA over and above L2 linguistic knowledge, but not to L2 word meaning inference. Interesting, L2 MA contributed significantly to L2 word meaning inferencing but only indirectly through L2 linguistic knowledge. To summarize, using finely tuned construct analyses and sophisticated statistical procedures, the studies described in this chapter have refined our understanding of the cross-​linguistic interaction between L2 linguistic knowledge and L1 resources in L2 reading. The emerging picture from these




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studies captures the complexities arising from the constraints posed by L2 linguistic knowledge on the learner’s access to the cognitive and conceptual resources available in her L1. As shown in all studies included in this review, L2 linguistic knowledge and L1 reading ability (and other L1 resources) jointly contribute to L2 reading ability, but their contributions are not as independent as has been assumed. It is widely acknowledged that L2 linguistic knowledge is necessary for building linguistic text bases. Considering the centrality of the reader–​text interaction highlighted in current models of reading, it is vital that we recognize the additional role of linguistic knowledge as the mediator that grants the learner access to L1 resources.

4  Specific Pedagogical Implications According to a brief survey of foreign language textbooks used in third-​ year courses in U.S. colleges, reading is viewed in those textbooks as a facet of language proficiency (Koda & Ke, 2018). Reflecting such a view, reading tasks in the textbooks are embedded in language exercises with the primary focus placed on the enhancement of grammar and vocabulary knowledge. Similarly, they found that widely used language proficiency guidelines describe reading competence as a gradual increase in the ability to understand written texts that demand progressively more sophisticated knowledge of the language and text types (American Council of the Teaching of Foreign Languages, 2012; Council of Europe, 2011). Thus, the reciprocity between reading ability and linguistic knowledge is not well incorporated in present-​day L2 teaching practices. Little attention is given to the significant role linguistic knowledge plays in enabling the reader to bring her real-​life knowledge to the process of text meaning construction during reading. Considering the centrality assigned to the reader’s real-​life knowledge in current models of reading, it is highly improbable that pedagogy under the reading-​as-​language view promotes broad-​based reading ability (i.e., reading to learn skills) in an L2. The narrowly focused view could have long-​term, potentially adverse, consequences for reading instruction in language classrooms. One such consequence would be that reading instruction under the view does not provide authentic purposes of reading, other than answering comprehension questions. Such a practice offers the learner little incentive to tap into her cognitive and conceptual resources for personalizing text information. Without personalization, text information could remain external to her and irrelevant to her internal self. Another potential consequence is that the language-​focused view could lead to the assumption that once sufficient linguistic knowledge is acquired, the learner will be able to “read” all types of texts in the target language. As demonstrated earlier, linguistic knowledge alone is far from sufficient for building text meaning, let alone constructing personal meaning. Critically,


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the ability to use language autonomously for meaning construction and analysis does not evolve automatically from the augmented knowledge of the target language. In sum, reading development in an L2 entails complex cross-​linguistic interaction between the learner’s knowledge of the target language and the cognitive and conceptual resources stored in the L1. In principle, reading instruction at all levels of education should focus on the specific competencies that allow the learner to capitalize on all of the resources available to her at a given point in time. L1 reading instruction initially concentrates on decoding (i.e., the skills to convert printed words into their spoken sounds) to enable a child to make links between print forms of words (new) and their meanings (known) through their spoken sounds (known). Applying the same principle, L2 instruction should find a way to promote L2 linguistic knowledge through L1 cognitive and conceptual resources, including reading ability.

5  The Reading to Learn Approach: A Theory-​Guided Pedagogy in L2 Classrooms This section illustrates a theory-​guided approach to L2 instruction and assessment (Koda & Yamashita, 2018). The development of the approach was guided, as described earlier, by theories of reading, learning, and L2 acquisition. The primary goal of the approach is to promote the ability to use language autonomously as a tool for constructing, analyzing, and reflecting on text meanings. The term reading to learn is used to refer to the ability to distinguish it from reading that tends to denote the reading-​as-​language view in the language teaching community. The approach is assessment-driven in that assessments are first designed directly from the objectives, and then used to guide the development of instructional materials. The approach has been implemented in the Japanese studies program at a university in the United States, 10 English as a foreign language (EFL) classes (N = 216) at five universities in Japan, and two Chinese as a foreign language (CFL) classes (N  =  12) in the United States. The subsequent sections describe how this theory-​guided approach affected L2 learning and teaching based on a case report documenting the implementation of the approach in an EFL course at a university in Japan (Koda & Yamashita, 2018).

5.1  Implementation Site The reading to learn approach was implemented in three sections of an EFL course at a major research university in Japan. The university’s EFL program offers four semesters of academic English training to all freshman and sophomore students. Credits from EFL courses are required for graduation of all




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the students. The curriculum focuses on the mastery of general academic language skills, such as paragraph reading and writing, discussion, and academic presentation skills. An EFL class meets once a week for 90 minutes. In the semester when the approach was implemented, the course objective was set to promote language learning through the use of reading to learn skills for cultivating academic presentation skills. The students had previously studied basic academic discourse structures, received training in reading and writing paragraphs and essays, and engaged in a range of activities to improve their listening and speaking skills in the program. On average, the students started studying English at the age of 12. None of them had any experience in studying or living in English-​speaking countries. Their exposure to English outside the class was limited to the occasional viewing of English Internet pages. The instructor is a native speaker of Japanese and a professor at the university where the approach was implemented. She had taught English for about 15 years at the time when she participated in the project.

5.2  The Impact of the Approach on L2 Learning Two sets of scores from the curriculum-​independent summative tests were compared between the two administrations. Table  3.1 presents the means and standard deviations of the section scores in the two test versions. As shown, students scored higher on Test 2, the version administered at the end of the semester. To estimate gains in the reading to learn skills, the mean section scores were submitted to Bonferroni-​ adjusted Wilcoxson signed ranks tests. All comparisons were found significant in all sections in the two tests. Effect sizes (r) were large in the text-​meaning building scores (r = 0.72) and personal-​meaning construction scores (r = 0.68). Formative information was also collected. The instructor’s observation notes showed that all students maintained high levels of motivation and engagement in class activities throughout the semester. She observed continuous progress in delivery, confidence, and discourse organization during class activities. Individual differences did emerge, however, halfway through the semester when the students started working on their presentations individually. Students’ questionnaire responses were also analyzed. Visible changes also occurred in the way students prepared oral presentations. Many students indicated that they chose plain expressions and simple structures to make their ideas accessible to other students. The instructor noted that such audience awareness had not been observed in the attitude of students she had previously encountered. The instructor pointed out that one student made a noteworthy comment: “We have learned basic English by the end of secondary education and wanted to do more intellectually challenging activities in English at the university level.”


50  Keiko Koda TABLE 3.2  Summative assessment scores in EFL learners

Test 1

Text-​meaning building (15) Personal-​meaning construction (12)


Test 2





10.16 10.23

1.76 1.89

13.33 11.88

1.87 0.99

−5.39*** −4.91***

** p