OJML  Vol.4 No.4 , October 2014
Phonemic Awareness and Reading Comprehension among Japanese Adult Learners of English
Phonemic awareness (PA) accounts for individual differences in early reading achievement in English as a first language (L1), but its effect generally fades with age. However, in English as a second language (L2), PA may still explain variation in reading ability among the adult population, depending on the readers’ L1 background. We examined the role of PA in the reading comprehension of L1-Japanese readers to closely examine the relationship between PA and reading comprehension. A path analysis revealed that PA makes an indirect contribution to reading comprehension through decoding, which along with vocabulary knowledge directly supports reading comprehension. The present study provides evidence for a role, albeit indirect, played by PA in L2-English reading by L1-Japanese adult readers, and thus lends support to the understanding of the importance of fundamental phonological processing in L2 reading.

Cite this paper
Yoshikawa, L. and Yamashita, J. (2014) Phonemic Awareness and Reading Comprehension among Japanese Adult Learners of English. Open Journal of Modern Linguistics, 4, 471-480. doi: 10.4236/ojml.2014.44039.

[1]   Akamatsu, N. (1999). The Effects of First Language Orthographic Features on Word Recognition Processing in English as a Second Language. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 11, 381-403.

[2]   Akita, K., & Hatano, G. (1999). Learning to Read and Write in Japanese. In M. Harris, & G. Hatano (Eds.), Leaning to Read and Write: A Cross Linguistic Perspective (pp. 214-238). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[3]   August, D., & Shanahan, T. (2006). Developing Literacy in Second-Language Learners: Report of the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

[4]   Ball, E. W., & Blachman, B. A. (1991). Does Phoneme Awareness Training in Kindergarten Make a Difference in Early Word Recognition and Developmental Spelling? Reading Research Quarterly, 26, 49-66.

[5]   Braze, D., Tabor, W., Shankweiler, D., & Mencl, E. (2007). Speaking up for Vocabulary: Reading Skill Differences in Young Adults. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 40, 226-243.

[6]   Bruce, D. (1964). An Analysis of Word Sounds by Young Children. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 34, 158-170.

[7]   Caravolas, M., Hulme, C., & Snowling, M. J. (2001). The Foundations of Spelling Ability: Evidence From a 3-year Longitudinal Study. Journal of Memory and Language, 45, 751-774.

[8]   Carlson, E., Jenkins, F., Li, T., & Brownell, M. (2013). The Interactions of Vocabulary, Phonemic Awareness, Decoding, and Reading Comprehension. The Journal of Educational Research, 106, 120-131.

[9]   Chapman, M. L. (2003). Phonemic Awareness: Clarifying What We Know. Literacy Teaching and Learning, 7, 91-114.

[10]   Commissaire, E., Pasquarella, A., Chen X., & Deacon, S. H. (2014). The Development of Orthographic Processing Skills in Children in Early French Immersion Programs. Written Language and Literacy, 17, 16-39.

[11]   de Jong, P. F., & van der Leij, A. (2002). Effects of Phonological Abilities and Linguistic Comprehension on the Development of Reading. Scientific Studies of Reading, 6, 51-77.

[12]   Educational Testing Service (2006). Test of English for International Communication.

[13]   Educational Testing Service (n.d.). Test of English as a Foreign Language.

[14]   Ehri, L. C., Nunes, S. R., Willows, D. M., Schuster, B. V., Yaghoub-Zadeh, Z., & Shanahan, T. (2001). Phonemic Awareness Instruction Helps Children Learn to Read: Evidence from the National Reading Panel’s Meta-Analysis. Reading Research Quarterly, 36, 250-287.

[15]   Ehrich, J. F., Zhang, L. J., Mu, J. C., & Ehrich, L. C. (2013). Are Alphabetic Language-Derived Models of L2 Reading Relevant to L1 Logographic Background Readers? Language Awareness, 22, 39-55.

[16]   Engen, L., & H?ien, T. (2002). Phonological Skills and Reading Comprehension. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 15, 613-631.

[17]   Fernandez-Fein, S., & Baker, L. (1997). Rhyme and Alliteration Sensitivity and Relevant Experiences among Preschoolers from Diverse Backgrounds. Journal of Literacy Research, 29, 433-459.

[18]   Geva, E., & Yaghoub Zadeh, Z. (2006). Reading Efficiency in Native English-Speaking and English-as-a-Second-Language Children: The Role of Oral Proficiency and Underlying Cognitive-Linguistic Processes. Scientific Studies of Reading, 10, 31-57.

[19]   Goldstein, D. M. (1974). Learning to Read and Developmental Changes in Covert Speech and in Word Analysis and Synthesis Skill. Ph.D. Thesis, Mansfield, CT: University of Connecticut.

[20]   Gottardo, A., & Mueller, J. (2009). Are First- and Second-Language Factors Related in Predicting Second-Language Reading Comprehension? A Study of Spanish-Speaking Children Acquiring English as a Second Language from First to Second Grade. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101, 330-344.

[21]   Gough, P. B., Hoover, W. A., & Peterson, C. L. (1994). Some Observations on a Simple View of Reading. In C. Cornoldi, & J. Oakhill (Eds.), Reading Comprehension Difficulties: Processes and Intervention (pp. 1-14). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

[22]   Hamada, M., & Koda, K. (2008). Influence of First Language Orthographic Experience on Second Language Decoding and Word Learning. Language Learning, 58, 1-31.

[23]   Hamada, M., & Koda, K. (2010). The Role of Phonological Decoding in Second Language Word-Meaning Inference. Applied Linguistics, 31, 513-531.

[24]   Hogan, T. P., Catts, H. W., & Little, T. D. (2005). The Relationship between Phonological Awareness and Reading: Implications for the Assessment of Phonological Awareness. Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools, 36, 285-293.

[25]   Holm, A., & Dodd, B. (1996). The Effect of First Written Language on the Acquisition of English Literacy. Cognition, 59, 119-147.

[26]   Hoover, W. A., & Gough, P. B. (1990). The Simple View of Reading. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 2, 127-160.

[27]   Hulme, C., Caravolas, M., Málkováb, G., & Brigstocke, S. (2005). Phoneme Isolation Ability Is Not Simply a Consequence of Letter-Sound Knowledge. Cognition, 97, B1-B11.

[28]   Kato, S. (2009). Suppressing Inner Speech in ESL Reading: Implications for Developmental Changes in Second Language Word Recognition Processes. The Modern Language Journal, 93, 471-488.

[29]   Kobayashi, M., Kato, J., Haynes, C. W., Macaruso, P., & Hook, P. (2003). Cognitive Linguistic Factors in Japanese Children’s Reading. Japanese Journal of Learning Disabilities, 12, 240-247.

[30]   Koda, K. (1990). The Use of L1 Reading Strategies in L2 Reading: Effects of L1 Orthographic Structures on L2 Phonological Recoding Strategies. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 12, 393-410.

[31]   Koda, K. (1998). The Role of Phonemic Awareness in Second Language Reading. Second Language Research, 14, 194-215.

[32]   Koda, K. (1999). Development of L2 Intraword Orthographic Sensitivity and Decoding Skills. The Modern Language Journal, 83, 51-64.

[33]   Koda, K. (2005). Insights into Second Language Reading. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[34]   Koda, K. (2007). Reading and Language Learning: Crosslinguistic Constraints on Second Language Reading Development. Language Learning, 57, 1-44.

[35]   Liberman, I. Y., Shankweiler, D., Fischer, F. W., & Carter, B. (1974). Explicit Syllable and Phoneme Segmentation in the Young Child. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 18, 201-212.

[36]   Manis, F. R., Seidenberg, M. S., & Doi, L. M. (1999). See Dick RAN: Rapid Naming and the Longitudinal Prediction of Reading Subskills in First and Second Graders. Scientific Studies of Reading, 3, 129-157.

[37]   Mann, V. A. (1986). Phonological Awareness: The Role of Reading Experience. Cognition, 23, 65-92.

[38]   McCandliss, B., Beck, I., Sandak, R., & Perfetti, C. (2003). Focusing Attention on Decoding for Children with Poor Reading Skills: Design and Preliminary Tests of the Word Building Intervention. Scientific Studies of Reading, 7, 75-104.

[39]   Nassaji, H. (2014). The Role and Importance of Lower-Level Processes in Second Language Reading. Language Teaching, 47, 1-37.

[40]   Nassaji, H., & Geva, E. (1999). The Contribution of Phonological and Orthographic Processing Skills to Adult ESL Reading: Evidence from Native Speakers of Farsi. Applied Psycholinguistics, 20, 241-267.

[41]   Nation, I. S. P. (1983). Testing and Teaching Vocabulary. Guidelines, 5, 12-25.

[42]   Nation, N., & Hulme, C. (1997). Phonemic Segmentation, Not Onset-Rime Segmentation, Predicts Early Reading and Spelling Skills. Reading Research Quarterly, 32, 154-167.

[43]   Pan, N., & Chen, L. (2005). Phonological/Phonemic Awareness and Reading: A Crosslinguistic Perspective. Journal of Multilingual Communication Disorders, 3, 145-152.

[44]   Pasquarella, A., Gottardo, A., & Grant, A. (2012). Comparing Factors Related to Reading Comprehension in Adolescents Who Speak English as a First (L1) or Second (L2) Language. Scientific Studies of Reading, 16, 475-503.

[45]   Perfetti, C. A. (2003). The Universal Grammar of Reading. Scientific Studies of Reading, 7, 3-24.

[46]   Perfetti, C., Cao, F., & Booth, J. (2013). Specialization and Universals in the Development of Reading Skill: How Chinese Research Informs a Universal Science of Reading. Scientific Studies of Reading, 17, 5-21.

[47]   Rosner, J. (1975). Helping Children Overcome Learning Difficulties. New York: Walker and Company.

[48]   Scarborough, H. S., Ehri, L. C., Olson, R. K., & Fowler, A. E. (1998). The Fate of Phonemic Awareness beyond the Elementary School Years. Scientific Studies of Reading, 2, 115-142.

[49]   Shiotsu, T. (2009). Reading Ability and Comprehension of Word Recognition Speed: The Case of L1-Japanese EFL Learners. In Z. Han, & N. J. Anderson (Eds.), Second Language Reading Research and Instruction: Crossing the Boundaries (pp. 15-39). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

[50]   Stahl, S. A., & Murray, B. A. (1994). Defining Phonological Awareness and Its Relationship to Early Reading. Journal of Educational Psychology, 86, 221-234.

[51]   Torgesen, J. K., Wagner, R. K., & Rashotte, C. A. (1999). Test of Word Reading Efficiency. Austin, TX: PRO-ED.

[52]   Tunmer, W. E., & Nesdale, A. R. (1982). The Effects of Digraphs and Pseudowords on Phonemic Segmentation in Young Children. Applied Psycholinguistics, 3, 299-311.

[53]   Wade-Wooley, L. (1999). First Language Influences on Second Language Word Reading: All Roads Lead to Rome. Language Learning, 49, 447-471.

[54]   Wang, M., & Koda, K. (2005). Commonalities and Differences in Word Identification Skills among Learners of English as a Second Language. Language Learning, 55, 71-98.

[55]   Wang, M., Koda, K., & Perfetti, C. A. (2003). Alphabetic and Non-alphabetic L1 Effects in English Word Identi?cation: A Comparison of Korean and Chinese English L2 Learners. Cognition, 87, 129-149.

[56]   Woodcock, R. W. (1973). Woodcock Reading Mastery Test. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.

[57]   Yaghoub Zadeh, Z., Farnia, F., & Geva, E. (2012). Toward Modeling Reading Comprehension and Reading Fluency in English Language Learners. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 25, 163-187.

[58]   Yamashita, J. (2013). Word Recognition Subcomponents and Passage Level Reading in a Foreign Language. Reading in a Foreign Language, 25, 52-71.

[59]   Yopp, H. K. (1988). The Validity and Reliability of Phonemic Awareness Tests. Reading Research Quarterly, 23, 159-177.

[60]   Ziegler, J. C., & Goswami, U. (2005). Reading Acquisition, Developmental Dyslexia and Skilled Reading across Languages: A Psycholinguistic Grain Size Theory. Psychological Bulletin, 131, 3-29.