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Title: Second language reading instruction : a study of an awareness-raising reading course in an agriculture college in Portugal
Author: Figueiredo-Silva, Maria Isabel Réfega
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2003
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English has become the preferred language for the dissemination of academic knowledge world-wide and in higher education both students and lecturers make extensive use of academic texts in English. This study takes as a starting point a concern about the difficulties L2 readers in a college of agriculture in Portugal face in reading academic texts in English and considers how their reading could be improved. The present study took place in a teaching situation which can be seen as naturalistic, in the sense that it was carried out in the researcher's normal work situation following both the normal conventions of Portuguese academic life and the pre-existing social realities and routines of the college. The purpose of the study was to investigate whether awareness of certain text features and academic genres would help students and lecturers in the college to improve their reading and whether there would be any differences between these two types of academic reader. Attention was also given to rhetorical differences between Portuguese and English academic writing styles. The effects of a language awareness approach to L2 reading instruction upon the ability of 20 Portuguese agriculture students and 15 lecturers to improve their reading were investigated. A range of qualitative and quantitative data were collected before, during and after the course and analysed in order to describe and understand whether the approach facilitated reading: the data included pre- and post-course questionnaires, interviews, pre- and post-course tests, warm-up and follow-up tasks done in class, nonparticipant observation, audiotapes of lessons, lesson feedback questionnaires, tasks done at home and participant observations. The research findings indicate that participants and the teacher-researcher have different views or perceptions of language and academic texts. These divergences in perspective are grounded in the different, scientific, disciplinary cultures to which these L2 readers/learners and the teacher-researcher belong and which make them operate in different paradigms. They are also influenced by rhetorical differences between Portuguese and English academic writing styles. It is further suggested that an awareness-raising approach is an effective way of attending to reading problems in L2 since it allows learners to work on the development of their skills (e.g. skimming, scanning), using both bottom-up and top-down strategies while, at the same time, increasing their understanding of the rhetorical structure, discourse conventions and social contexts of written academic discourse in English. On the basis of these findings practical implications for designing academic reading courses in EAP/ESP contexts are also proposed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available