Taiwanese First Year University EFL Learners' Metacognitive Awareness and Use of Reading Strategies in Learning to Read: Proficiency Levels and Text Types
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
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Although studies on L2 learning strategies are a major strand of second language research, recent research has shifted its focus onto language learners’ metacognitive awareness and use of strategies. Previous studies shed important light on the amelioration in L2 educational practices, but research on learners’ metacognition in the reading process in EFL contexts remains insufficient, especially at the university level in terms of the emic view of the participants studied in Taiwan. Based on an interpretive stance, this exploratory case study aimed at probing 12 Taiwanese first year university EFL learners’ metacognitive awareness and use of reading strategies during their strategic reading process, and the relationship with proficiency levels and texts of both the narrative and the expository type. This study relies on the think aloud and immediately retrospective protocols of 6 high proficient and 6 low proficient readers as the principal sources of data. The think aloud protocols and the immediately retrospective interviews were transcribed and subjected to content analysis by means of coding them. Taiwanese first year university EFL readers’ metacognitive awareness and use of reading strategies were then analysed and interpreted from a broad metacognitive perspective within the information processing model in terms of strategy application for reading comprehension problem-solving. The findings revealed that the participants demonstrated an awareness and control of their cognitive activities while reading. The strategies they employed were grouped into the categories of supporting reading strategies (SRSs), cognitive reading strategies (CRSs), and metacognitive reading strategies (MRSs). The study found that these learners’ metacognitive awareness and use of reading strategies in learning to read were closely related to L2 proficiency. The low proficient readers’ unfamiliarity with L2 is a hindrance to their reading comprehension which, in turn, disabled them from using the strategies appropriately and effectively. Furthermore, the high proficient readers outperformed their low proficient counterparts in terms of both the quality and quantity of strategies used. Both groups did not use the same strategy types. The findings also revealed that certain types of reading strategy were used differently due to the texts of the narrative and the expository type across the different ability levels. The existing literature on metacognitive awareness and use of reading strategies in learning to read is discussed and pedagogical implications for teachers of L2 reading are offered. These implications include suggestions made for providing learners with explicit reading and strategy instruction and texts with different structure in relation to strategy use. Finally, the limitations of the current research study and recommendations for further research were stated.
PhD in Education