Going Beyond the Text: The Inferencing Processes of Skilled Readers in L1 and L2 Across Reading Tasks
Meyer Sterzik, Angela Jean
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This small exploratory study investigated the inferencing processes of skilled first language (L1) and second language (L2) readers for two academic tasks. The goal was to examine possible effects of language and task, or reading purpose, on the frequency and distribution of inferences. Participants (n = 10) were native speakers of German enrolled at a large university in Hessen, Germany in a B.Ed. program. Participants read two expository texts (one written in German and the other written in English) in two task conditions: summary and position-paper. Think-aloud protocols while reading and stimulated recall immediately after reading were recorded, transcribed, coded, and the results were compared quantitatively and qualitatively across tasks and languages. The statistical analyses indicated that there were task effects on inferencing processes, and that they were stronger in L2. When reading for a summary purpose, inferencing processes differed across languages which was not the case for the position-paper task. Readers inferencing processes differed significantly across tasks in L2, but not in L1. The results suggest that skilled readers strategically inference based on academic task demands, but that transfer of strategic inferencing skills from L1 to L2 is not complete even with advanced L2 readers. Findings raise questions about the explicit instruction of strategic inferencing for academic tasks in L2 reading classrooms.