Compensatory Reading among ESL Learners: A Reading Strategy Heuristic

  •  Shaik Abdul Ismail    
  •  Yusof Petras    
  •  Abdul Mohamed    
  •  Lin Eng    


This paper aims to gain an insight to the relationship of two different concepts about reading comprehension, namely, the linear model of comprehension and the interactive compensatory theory. Drawing on both the above concepts, a heuristic was constructed about three different reading strategies determined by the specific ways the literal, reorganisation and inferential skills of comprehension interact. The concepts of apt and smart reading strategies were introduced, which refer to two possible ways of compensatory reading. Applying the reading strategy heuristic to the secondary analysis of a large reading assessment data from Malaysian secondary school 3567 ESL learners, compensatory reading was found to be used by a significant group of those students who struggle with poor reading skills. Furthermore, one of the compensatory strategies, namely, smart reading, was found to be positively correlated with the learners' motivation to read and their belief about own reading competence, the proportion of positive answers among smart readers being 3.5% and 3.9% higher than among the mainstream readers, respectively. The findings suggest that the language talent of apt and smart readers (18.2% of the current sample to be discovered and cultivated in the L2 classroom, especially among low-achiever learners who would most benefit from the recognition of compensation as a legitimate skill of reading comprehension.

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