Word Recognition, Psycholinguistics and Teaching Second Language Reading

Abstract

Approaches to the teaching of reading over the last thirty years have been couched within a general information processing framework which looks at the integration of top-down versus bottom-up information. Reading has been described in terms of the reader’s own knowledge of the world interacting with the information provided by the text. Approaches have emphasised the importance of what the reader brings to the text as well as the information which is derived from the text itself. This has led to more concentration on the importance of meaning than on the lower-level skills of decoding. On a micro level, an important concept is the idea promulgated by Goodman (1976) that reading is a “psycho logistic guessing game,” where the recognition of words and text is determined by using prediction derived from context and grammar, an approach which relies heavily on top-down processes. This concept has played an important role in many theoretical approaches to initially, first language reading, and, by extension, second language reading. It is the purpose of this paper to explore some of the psycholinguistic evidence for the way that word recognition and reading take place in native speaking readers and then to examine these from the point of view of the second language reader.

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