Some Effects of Proficiency and Practice on Beliefs about Academic Reading

Diane Malcolm

Abstract


Reading for academic purposes in both first language (L1) and second language (L2) contexts has long been the subject of research using measures such as reading strategy inventories, reading recall protocols, and a variety of experimental designs aimed to examine the relative contribution to their reading ability of the readers’ L1 or L2, type and complexity of text, content and cultural familiarity, among other factors. However, particularly in the second language context, there is much less published information about other variables that may influence reading success, including learner beliefs about reading. One of the main challenges faced by learners studying for a specific purpose such as medicine is to develop a high standard of reading fluency and accuracy in order to succeed in their professional aims. Those enrolled in academic programmes in their home countries, such as the medical students who are the subject of this paper, often have had little previous experience of academic reading in English, may be reluctant or sporadic readers even in their native language, and have developed negative or unhelpful beliefs about reading in English based mainly on their prior schooling or home experiences. The expectations and demands placed on them by the new academic experience may be in conflict with these beliefs, causing initial difficulties in comprehension and learning. This study explores the nature of these initial beliefs as well as changes in learner beliefs about their academic reading as related to practice and experience. 


Keywords


Reading, Learner beliefs, EFL/ESL, EAP, ESP

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