The simple view of reading (SVR) is a widely accepted theory that attempts to define the skills contributing to early reading comprehension. It attributes a person’s reading comprehension ability to two skills—word recognition (decoding) and language comprehension. However, SVR is known to have some limitations in the context of second and foreign languages (SFL). Recent reading research indicates that SVR needs to be expanded to include cognitive factors that may impact reading comprehension, such as working memory, inference-making, and metalinguistic skills. This is also necessary in the context of SFL.
A new study by Professor Jang Ho Lee of Chung-Ang University and Professor Hansol Lee of the Korea Military Academy evaluated SVR in SFL using a statistical approach known as meta-analytic structural equation modelling (MASEM). Their study, published online on 24 July 2023 in the Review of Educational Research Journal, demonstrates that the primary tenet of SVR holds in SFL contexts and can be adapted to identify reading problems in people reading SFL.
Professor Hansol Lee explained:
The SVR model is a time-tested model of reading in first language literacy and has been used to develop instructional guidelines for many countries’ reading curricula. However, we decided to test the applicability of this model for SFL reading, which many theories and conflicting ideas have now explained.
The researchers selected 152 prior studies for building the MASEM model through a database search. Next, the researchers identified 12 variables spanning various SFL constructs: comprehension, decoding, cognition, and metalinguistic skills. Further, they used a two-stage, two-stage structural equation modelling (TSSEM) approach. They developed four MASEM models, which were base model variants, to answer this study’s four research questions. While the base model included variables of reading comprehension, the other three models were expanded to incorporate variables for cognition skills, metalinguistic components, and a combination of both. This helped the researchers to study more complex constructs of SFL reading compared with the base model.
Their analysis revealed decoding and language comprehension skills as the primary components for effective SFL reading instruction. They identified that early education should focus mainly on developing decoding and language comprehension skills, while later instruction should focus primarily on developing language comprehension skills. Their findings also underscore the need for including specific instruction on metalinguistic skills in the SFL-SVR framework.
The researchers detail how the extended SVR models can be implemented practically to improve the reading abilities of SFL learners.
Prof. Lee added that the findings that decoding and language comprehension are crucial for SFL reading can help instructors design a more effective and efficient pedagogical approach. This can ultimately promote SFL learners’ reading competence.
This pioneering research could be applied to tackle open research questions in several domains. As Prof. Lee notes, “This is one of the first studies to use a specialized type of meta-analysis to answer the unanswered questions in applied linguistics. Going ahead, researchers can benefit from using this approach to advance the understanding of several issues that involve the complex relationships among multiple variables.”
Established in 1916, Chung-Ang University is a private comprehensive research university in Seoul, South Korea. The University consists of 10 undergraduate colleges and 16 graduate schools. Fully accredited by the Ministry of Education of Korea, CAU offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs, including a law school, global MBA programs and a medical school.