Comparing first and second language reading: the use of metacognitive strategies among Norwegian university students
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionActa Didactica Norge - tidsskrift for fagdidaktisk forsknings- og utviklingsarbeid i Norge. 2018, 12 (2), 1-26. 10.5617/adno.5579
Metacognitive awareness is one of the key predictors of successful reading, in particular for second language and academic reading. This article presents a study that investigated Norwegian university students’ metacognitive awareness when reading academic texts in Norwegian (L1) and English (L2). 316 students answered a questionnaire which included a 30-item survey of reading strategies and self-ratings of reading proficiency in both languages. The analysis reveals a surprisingly similar awareness of reading strategies in L1 and L2. The main differences found were in the use of two specific reading strategies: reading more slowly and using resources such as dictionaries. Despite overall similarities in the approach to L1 and L2 reading, participants rated their own proficiency as much higher in L1 reading than L2. Regression models show significant associations between self-ratings of proficiency and the number and type of reading strategies reported, particularly in the L2, demonstrating that there is an important connection between these. Research on other populations has shown a much higher use of reading strategies in L2. However, the similarity in approaches to L1 and L2 reading among the university students in this study may reflect a higher level of L2 proficiency among these students, as well as high expectations of proficiency, meaning they do not feel a need to use reading strategies for decoding L2 text. Instead, these students may benefit from additional training in the use of higher level reading strategies to improve their comprehension of L2 academic texts.