Readability in Students’ General English Textbooks: An Empirical Study Based on Benchmark

Chunbao Huang


Reading is one of the most reliable sources of language input. As the main source of English input for non-English undergraduates, textbooks for General English play a critical role in developing their reading abilities. Based on the text readability benchmark of the reading tests in national College English Test (CET), this study aims to explore readability of the texts in an English coursebook series for general purpose used by non-English major undergraduates in a university from China, and tries to examine the impact of students’ reading coursebooks on their reading achievements in CET reading tests. Samples include 72 English texts from 4 target textbooks and 72 texts from the reading tests in CET between 2017 and 2021. Results show that the average text readability index from Book 1 to Book 4 is short of scientific variations despite the trend of a descending order. Besides, a noticeable gap in text readability has been discovered between the target books and CET. Given the guiding role CET has been playing in college English teaching and learning, it is proposed that reading materials selected for non-English undergraduates in and out of class should be more scientific by taking the readability benchmark in CET into consideration.

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