Factors influencing reading difficulties of advanced learners of English as a Foreign Language when reading authentic texts
This thesis investigates factors influencing the reading difficulties of advanced learners of English as a foreign language. It proposes a new approach to reading research and pedagogy in which neuroscientific insights on human verbal and non-verbal cognition are incorporated into the theoretical conceptualisation. This thesis explores the neurosdentific literature for the purpose of identifying basic principles governing human perception, emotion and cognition. The mechanisms of learning and memory are also studied. It examines how the verbal systems of the brain interact with the non-verbal systems. Making use of neural perspectives, a critical review of historical and of current reading models is conducted. Attempts are made to provide alternative interpretations for the phenomena recognised in empirical studies based on observations of reading behaviours, on computer-based studies and on the introspective data of experts and of learners. This thesis reports two experiments which were designed to investigate the Ll and L2 reading processes through Think Aloud, Immediate Retrospection, Questionnaires and Interviews. The results indicate that advanced learners, despite their established reading ability in their native languages, often rely heavily on cognitive and studial styles of L2 reading which inhibit fluent and effective reading. Neural accounts are offered which suggest that the ineffective reading styles are due to weakness in the degree of neural developments. This thesis evaluates the reading sections of current and typical coursebooks according to neural-based criteria and concludes that learners are not being given the opportunities to develop the neural networks required in fluent and enjoyable reading. Finally suggestions are made for future reading research and pedagogy.