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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:First-year university L2 readers' patterns of performance in a test of academic reading ability
Author:Zulu, ConstanceISNI
Periodical:Language Matters: Studies in the Languages of Africa
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:academic achievement
English language
Abstract:This article presents findings from an investigation into the patterns of second language (L2) readers' performance in a test of reading ability in South Africa. The test was first administered to an intact class of law students enrolled in an English and Academic Skills (EAS) course in 1999, at a historically black university in South Africa. When the student composition and the duration of the course changed, the study was replicated on a similar group of law students in 2001 to see if the performance of the students in the reading course in the two cohorts would be the same, or different. A qualitative analysis of the test results showed a consistent pattern of performance on both measures of reading ability, namely the cloze test and the comprehension test. Nevertheless, the quantitative results showed a different pattern. The 2001 cohort had higher means on both measures of reading ability than the 1999 cohort. Nevertheless, the students' main reading problems were found to be similar regardless of cohort. Common to both cohorts were the reading difficulties related to weak analytical and critical reading skills and poorly developed inference skills. There was a significant difference in the pre and post-test scores of the students in 2001 but not in 1999, indicating that the intervention given to these two cohorts had a better effect on the reading ability of students in the 2001 cohort. In view of the findings it is recommended that emphasis be placed on training first-year L2 readers in analytical, critical and inferential reasoning skills, and that these skills be reinforced in all courses. Bibliogr., sum. [Journal abstract]