English Spelling Knowledge and Word Reading Skills of Arabic and Japanese ESL Learners

Xiangying Jiang


Previous research has demonstrated that L1 orthographic features and literacy experiences may influence some lower-level processing skills in L2 literacy development. The goal of this study is to expand understanding of this influence on the development of ESL word reading and spelling skills among a group of 49 intermediate-level Arabic learners of English as a Second Language (ESL) and a corresponding comparison group of 50 Japanese ESL learners. Data were collected on a spelling test, a reading comprehension test, and a series of word reading tasks which include reading words with a missing vowel, reading words with a missing consonant, reading a regular wordlist, and reading pseudo-words. The results indicated that at the same level of reading comprehension, the Japanese ESL group performed significantly better than the Arabic group on spelling and all the word reading measures except the accuracy and speed in reading words with a missing vowel. The study also found that the Arabic ESL learners were more adversely affected in both accuracy and speed of reading words with a missing consonant compared with reading words with a missing vowel. Furthermore, accuracy in reading words with a missing consonant was found to be the best predictor of reading comprehension for the Arabic group but for the Japanese group, spelling and accuracy in reading words with a missing consonant were both significant predictors of ESL reading comprehension. The findings were discussed in relation to previous research. Pedagogical implications were also addressed.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/selt.v6n3p186


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