An Exploratory Study
The book explores the novel field of lexical and conceptual awareness in L2 reading from both a theoretical and an empirical perspective. The theoretical part consists of a thorough literature review of the key terms. The empirical part presents an in-depth analysis of L2 learners’ lexical and conceptual awareness/challenges based on text and worksheet data as well as 110 hours of video material. In total, data from 156 L2 learners participating in video-taped collaborative reading scenarios and the corresponding stimulated recall sessions have been analyzed in a primarily qualitative manner. The results demonstrate the multidimensionality of the two major constructs and highlight learners’ need for further support. Theoretical, methodological and practical recommendations are provided.
Reading is a highly complex process, and L2 reading even more so. A considerable number of factors has already been identified in prior research, such as L2 language knowledge, L1 literacy experience, the relation between L1(s) and L2(s), working memory capacity, strategy use, world knowledge as well as domain- or topic-specific knowledge, learners’ motivations, reading goals, interests and many more (see e.g. Bernhardt, 2005; Finkbeiner, 2005). Each of these constructs is complex in itself, with L2 language knowledge, for instance, comprising knowledge of grammar and lexis. Yet, even finer distinctions are possible, e.g. if we consider lexis as a multi-layered construct consisting of orthographic, phonological, morphological, syntactic, and semantic knowledge (cf. e.g. Jiang, 2000, p. 48).
Although important progress has been made in the field, many of the intricacies of L2 reading and the interplay of numerous factors still present a puzzle to scholars and no complete model has been devised so far (cf. e.g. the review by Erler & Finkbeiner, 2007, pp. 187, 206). This certainly has to do with the fact that reading usually is a silent process, which makes it hard to investigate, observe, and describe what is actually going on in the readers’ minds (cf. Singhal, 1998; Upton, 1998, p. 6; Finkbeiner, 2005, p. 422). Furthermore, learners’ linguistic and non-linguistic knowledge base and their abilities are developing and changing continuously, and thus also several important variables involved in the reading process are in a constant flux. Besides, through...