Dual Focus on Language and Content as an Issue in L2/FL Reading Development

  • Halina Chodkiewicz
Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)


Research into L2/FL reading and its instruction conducted over the last decades has made it clear that the development of reading ability cannot be properly defined only with reference to general text comprehension skills. A better explanatory framework is needed to account for the complexity of knowledge/content processing by means of linguistic tools. What is more, one has to bear in mind that reading activities take place in diverse sociocultural contexts, with a range of objectives set for them, and remain under the inherent influence of text and learner variables. Recent literature has also recognized the fact that, immersed in the educational system, both native and non-native learners struggle with the acquisition and expansion of subject matter knowledge. As part of literacy, reading substantially contributes to the acquisition of new informational content by the learner, the restructuring of general knowledge, as well as language proficiency enhancement. This paper is intended to seek some emerging theoretical foundations which would be helpful in approaching reading development with a dual focus on language and content which, as it is claimed, should form the basis for L2/FL reading instruction in formal educational settings. With this goal in mind, the paper tackles the following four areas of concern: (1) the conceptualization of reading by basic models of text comprehension, (2) the relationship between reading development and language acquisition, (3) the impact of the schema theory on understanding reading comprehension, and the weaknesses of this theory, (4) the implementation of language-content integration within content-based teaching frameworks.


Reading Comprehension Language Acquisition Reading Instruction Text Comprehension Reading Process 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Bernhardt, E. B. 1991. Reading development in a second language: Theoretical, empirical, and classroom perspectives. Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex.Google Scholar
  2. Bernhardt, E. B. 2005. Progress and procrastination in second language reading. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics. 25: 133-150.Google Scholar
  3. Bernhardt, E. B. 2010. Understanding advanced second-language reading. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Bigelow, M., S. Ranney and A. Dahlman 2006. Keeping the language focus in content-based ESL instruction. TESL Canada Journal 24: 40-58.Google Scholar
  5. Brinton, D. M., M. A. Snow and M. B. Wesche 1997. Content-based second language instruction. Boston: Heinle and Heinle.Google Scholar
  6. Carrell, P. L. 1987. Content and formal schemata in ESL reading. TESOL Quarterly 12: 461-481.Google Scholar
  7. Chodkiewicz, H. 2000. Vocabulary acquisition from the written context: Inferring word meanings by Polish learners of English. Lublin: Wydawnictwo UMCS.Google Scholar
  8. Chodkiewicz, H. 2001. The acquisition of word meanings while reading in English as a foreign language. In EUROSLA Yearbook, eds. S. Foster-Cohen and A. Nizegorodcew, 29-49. Amsterdam – Philadelphia: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  9. Colombi, M. C. and M. J. Schleppegrell 2002. Theory and practice in the development of advanced literacy. In Developing advanced literacy in first and second languages, eds. M. J. Schleppegrell and M. C. Colombi, 1-20. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  10. Coyle, D. 2007. Content and language integrated learning: Towards a connected research agenda for CLIL pedagogies. The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 10: 543-62.Google Scholar
  11. Ellis, R. 2002. Developing a task-based syllabus. RELC Journal 34: 64-81.Google Scholar
  12. Fox, E. and P. A. Alexander 2009. Text comprehension: A retrospective, perspective, and prospective. In Handbook of research on reading comprehension, eds. S. E. Israel and G. G. Duffy, 227-239. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Gajo, L. 2007. Linguistic knowledge and subject knowledge: How does bilingualism contribute to subject development? The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 10: 563-581.Google Scholar
  14. Gass, S. and L. Selinker 2008. Second language acquisition. An introductory course. (third edition). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Grabe, W. 2009. Reading in a second language: Moving from theory to practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Grabe, W. and F. L. Stoller 1997. Content-based instruction: Research foundations. In The content-based classroom. Perspectives on integrating language and content, eds. M. A. Snow, D. M. Brinton, 5-21. White Plains, NY: Longman.Google Scholar
  17. Grabe, W. and F. L. Stoller 2002. Teaching and researching reading. Harlow: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  18. Halliday, M. A. K. 1985. An introduction to functional grammar. London: Edward Arnold.Google Scholar
  19. Hedgcock, J. S. and D. R. Ferris 2009. Teaching readers of English. Students, texts, and contexts. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Han, Z. H. and A. D’Angelo 2010. Balancing between comprehension and acquisition: Proposing a dual approach. In Second language reading research and instruction: Crossing the boundaries, eds. Z. H. Han and N. J. Anderson, 173-191. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  21. Hudson, T. 2007. Teaching second language reading. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Izumi, S. 2002. Output, input enhancement, and the noticing hypothesis: An experimental study on ESL revitalization. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 24: 541-577.Google Scholar
  23. Johnson, D. D. and P. D. Pearson 1978. Teaching reading vocabulary. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  24. Kintsch, W. 1998. Comprehension. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Kintsch, W. 2005. An overview of top-down and bottom-up effects in comprehension. The CI perspective. Discourse Processes 39: 125-128.Google Scholar
  26. Larsen-Freeman, D. and D. Freeman 2008. Language moves: The place of ‘foreign’ languages in classroom teaching and learning. Review of Research in Education 32: 147-186.Google Scholar
  27. Klingner, J. and S. Vaughn 2000. The helping behaviors of fifth graders while using collaborative strategic reading during ESL content classes. TESOL Quarterly 34: 69-98.Google Scholar
  28. Krashen, S. 1981. The case for narrow reading. TESOL Newsletter 12: 23.Google Scholar
  29. Krashen, S. D. and T. D. Terrrell 1983. The natural approach. Oxford: Pergamon Press and Heyward, CA: Alemany Press.Google Scholar
  30. Lee, J. F. 1998. The relationship of verb morphology and second language reading comprehension and input processing. Modern Language Journal 82: 33-48.Google Scholar
  31. Linderholm, T., S. Virtue, Y. Tzeng and P. van den Broek 2004. Fluctuations in the availability of information during reading: Capturing cognitive processes using the Landscape Model. Discourse Processes 37: 165-186.Google Scholar
  32. Marton, W. 1978. Dydaktyka języka obcego w szkole średniej. Podejście kognitywne. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.Google Scholar
  33. Mc Laughlin, B. 1987. Theories of second language learning. London: Edward Arnold.Google Scholar
  34. Mohan 1986. Language and content. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  35. Mohan 2001. The second language as a medium of learning. In English as a second language in the mainstream: Teaching, learning and identity, ed. B. Mohan, C. Leung and C. Davison, 107-126. Harlow: Longman.Google Scholar
  36. Nassaji, H. 2007. Schema theory and knowledge-based processes in second language reading comprehension: A need for alternative perspectives. Language Learning 57: 79-113.Google Scholar
  37. O’Malley, J. M. and A. U. Chamot 1990. Learning strategies in second language acquisition. Cambridge: CUP.Google Scholar
  38. Nagy, W. E. 1988. Teaching vocabulary to improve reading comprehension. Urbana; IL: National Council of Teachers of English.Google Scholar
  39. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 2006. Assessing scientific, reading and mathematical literacy: A framework for PISA 2006. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  40. Pulido, D. 2007. The relationship between text comprehension and second language incidental vocabulary acquisition: A matter of topic familiarity? Language Learning 57: 155-199.Google Scholar
  41. Shanahan, C. 2009. Disciplinary comprehension. In Handbook of research on reading comprehension, ed. S. E. Israel and G. G. Duffy, 240-260. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Sharwood Smith, M. 1986. Comprehension vs. acquisition: Two ways of processing input. Applied Linguistics 7: 239-256.Google Scholar
  43. Snow, M. A., M. Met and F. Genesee 1989. A conceptual framework for the integration of language and content in second/foreign language instruction. TESOL Quarterly 23: 201-216.Google Scholar
  44. Stanovich, K. E. 1980. Toward an interactive-compensatory model of individual differences in the development of reading fluency. Reading Research Quarterly 16: 32-71.Google Scholar
  45. Stanovich, K. E. 1991. Changing models of reading and reading acquisition. In Learning to read: Basic research and its implication, eds. L. Rieben and C. A. Perfetti, 19-31. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  46. Szkutnik, L. L. and W. Marton 1977. English? Yes. Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Szkolne i Pedagogiczne.Google Scholar
  47. Szkutnik, L .L. 1979. Książka nauczyciela. English through problems. Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Szkolne i Pedagogiczne.Google Scholar
  48. Wallace, C. 1992. Reading. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Wesche, M. B. and P. Skehan 2002. Communicative, task-based, and content-based instruction. In The Oxford handbook of applied linguistics, ed. R. B. Kaplan, 207-228. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  50. VanPatten, B. 2003. Cognitive characteristics of adult second language learners. In Teaching languages, literature and cultures. Volume 1: Learning foreign and second languages: Perspectives in research and scholarship, ed. H. Byrnes, 104-127. New York: Modern Language Association of America.Google Scholar
  51. Yoshimura, F. 2006. Does manipulating foreknowledge of output tasks lead to differences in reading behavior, text comprehension and noticing of language form? Language Teaching Research 10: 419-434.Google Scholar
  52. Young, D. and C. K. Nakuma 2009. What don’t you understand? Understanding misunderstandings in foreign language reading. In Crossing languages and research methods. Analyses of adult foreign language reading, ed. C. Brantmeier, 73-95. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Maria Curie-Sklodowska UniversityLublinPoland

Personalised recommendations