Japanese EFL Students’ Reading Processes for Academic Papers in English

  •  Yuko Hijikata    
  •  Yasuo Nakatani    
  •  Maki Shimizu    


Although some studies have examined reading strategy use in academic reading (e.g., Block, 1986; Plakans,
2009), these studies used short passages only, and there have been a few studies that have focused on the mental
representation constructed while we read research papers (e.g., Wyatt et al., 1993). Considering that academic
discourse has a particular, distinct structure (e.g., Swales, 1990), it is necessary to examine the process of reading
academic papers separately from that of reading in general, focusing on the rhetorical particularities of academic
discourse. Against this research background, we investigated how Japanese EFL students read English academic
papers, focusing on the interactions among L2 proficiency, reading strategies, and the rhetorical features of the
papers. We used the following methods: video observation, the “think-aloud protocol,” document analysis of
notes taken by the participants while reading, and a post-reading interview. The reading strategies identified on
the basis of the think-aloud protocol were categorized into local, global, and metacognitive strategies. The main
results were as follows. First, the Japanese EFL readers had difficulty recognizing academic discourse. Therefore,
they could not read the papers efficiently. Second, the students focused on understanding formulas and figures
presented in the documents. Third, although the students used local and global strategies frequently, their
purposes in using these strategies varied depending on their L2 competence, their background knowledge about
the topic of the paper, and their familiarity with the discipline-specific academic discourse.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1927-5250
  • ISSN(Online): 1927-5269
  • Started: 2012
  • Frequency: bimonthly

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