Adult ESL Learners’ Reading Fluency and Comprehension: An Insight

Mei Li


The present study aimed at exploring the elements affecting reading fluency and how to improve ESL learners’ reading fluency and comprehension. It was attempted to find whether ESL learners would perform better when taught through top-down or bottom-up reading instruction model. 54 Chinese freshmen with the same level of reading proficiency tested through College Entrance Exam participated in this study. Two experiments were designed. Experiment 1 was reading fluency practice in classroom while experiment 2 was bottom-up vs. top-down model in Extensive Reading course. Bottom-up approach, a traditional teaching method was used in Class 1 in which students enjoyed independent silent reading and more flexibility of doing their reading homework. As for those in Class 2, students were assigned to top-down processing instruction model where the instructor carried out partner reading with regular after-class reading assignment. Then, the treatment was run and finally, both groups received a reading comprehension post-test. The data were collected and analyzed. The results revealed that reading aloud to a partner is an efficient way for improving fluency compared with silent reading; the more models of fluent reading the students hear the better. Meanwhile the study indicates routine checking up is also helping in building learners’ fluency. The results also show that bottom-up training had a negative impact on fluency and comprehension. In contrast, top-down training positively affected fluency but had little impact on comprehension. These figures have implications for the type of language instruction used in actual classrooms. In light of these findings, the researcher also offered recommendations for ESL instructors.

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Asian Education Studies  ISSN 2424-8487(Print)  ISSN 2424-9033(Online)   

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