The Role of Reading in First and Second Language Acquisition.pdf

The Role of Reading in First and Second Language Acquisition

Viktor Kocsis

Seminar paper from the year 2012 in the subject English - Pedagogy, Didactics, Literature Studies, grade: Sehr Gut, University of Graz (Institut für Anglistik), course: Linguistics Seminar (Beyond Interpretation: Cognitive and Psycholinguistic Aspects of Reading Research), language: English, abstract: A persons future opportunities for success and prosperity will be even more entwined with skilled reading abilities. It is therefore an important societal responsibility to offer every person the opportunity to become a skilled reader, and in many cases, this means becoming a skilled L2 reader. (GRABE 2009: 6)

As GRABE reveals with his statement, reading has become an indispensable language skill not only in an individuals mother tongue, but preferably also in its acquired foreign language, without which it is difficult, if not impossible to make career nowadays. Wherever we go outside our homes, we will see and read print, even so in more deprived areas, such as on hiking trails, where instead of advertising wallpapers we are likely to encounter signposts that guide us. Since information transfer is reserved to both oral and written communication in modern society, reading remains the only option to decode writing.

However, developing reading skills is more than just improving ones word recognition and decoding abilities. GRABE points out that most words build phonological activation prior to lexical access (2009: 24) in the word recognition process that combines the interactive areas of orthography, phonology and meaning. This characteristic of reading allows for unconscious pronunciation drilling and training even though it can be assumed that readers will occasionally consciously check the pronunciation of certain unfamiliar words. Whether or not supported by conscious learning, reading seemingly prepares learners for oral communication by maintaining constant phonological activation.

Moreover, recognized words in the reading process are supposed to transmit some activation energy to their semantic neighbours in the lexical network when they are accessed. (GRABE 2009: 25/26) Known as the notion of spreading activation (GRABE 2009: 25), this phenomenon suggests that reading establishes a cognitive network of connotations that learners acquire to broaden their lexis for idiomatic application in communicative contexts.

As one may quickly realize, reading involves learning about both language and content, which is why it simply must be part of a regular English lesson. Therefore, the research question addressed in this paper is what English language teachers should keep in mind when developing reading tasks for both First (L1) and Second Language Learners (L2).

second language (L2) additionally to their first language (L1). Although it is referred as Second Language Acquisition, it is the process of learning any language after the first language whether it is the second, third or fourth language. Therefore, any other language apart from the first language is called a second language (SL) or also referred

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The Role of Reading in First and Second Language Acquisition.pdf


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