The relationship between oral proficiency and reading comprehension of high school students studying Spanish as a second language

Diane Wickham Gomez, Fordham University

Abstract

The purpose of this experiment was to determine the relationship between developed first language (L1) when L1 is English, and proficiency in the second language (L2) when L2 is Spanish taught as a second language at the secondary school level. The variables included English proficiency, Spanish oral proficiency, and reading comprehension. Final grades in academic English classes determined English proficiency. Spanish oral proficiency was operationally defined as communicating appropriately, linguistically and socially, in real-life situations. Comprehending authentic text in Spanish measured reading comprehension. ^ The 24 participants for this study were volunteers from 2 intact classes of Spanish in a suburban high school. All of the participants were native speakers of English and were registered in a Spanish level III class. Bilingual and bicultural Spanish-speaking students were excluded. All participants were given the Simulated Oral Proficiency Interview Spanish Speaking Test (SOPI) as the oral proficiency pretest. To measure reading comprehension, the reading comprehension portions of the New York State Regents Comprehensive Examination in Spanish were administered as the pretest. These 2 instruments also served as posttests for the study. ^ The experimental group received instructional intervention in the form of metacognitive reading comprehension learning strategies. The 24 intervention lessons were teacher developed using O'Malley and Chamot's (1990) Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach (CALLA) and Dimensions of Learning as models. ^ The findings of the study indicated that (a) proficiency in English had an effect on Spanish reading comprehension, (b) Spanish oral proficiency did not have an effect on Spanish reading comprehension, (c) learning strategies in Spanish reading comprehension had no effect on reading comprehension, (d) learning strategies in reading comprehension had an effect on Spanish oral proficiency, and (e) no correlation was found between Spanish reading comprehension and Spanish oral proficiency. ^ The findings support, in reverse, Cummins' (1984) interdependence theory that well-developed L1 facilitates the acquisition of L2. Greater cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) was found than basic interpersonal communicative skills (BICS). ^

Subject Area

Education, Language and Literature|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

Diane Wickham Gomez, "The relationship between oral proficiency and reading comprehension of high school students studying Spanish as a second language" (January 1, 2002). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3040396.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3040396

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