Chapter 11. Academic discourse comprehension in Spanish and English

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Psychodiscursive skills allowing university students to comprehend disciplinary texts are considered to be essential. Besides, in countries where English is not the mother tongue, university students must also develop the ability to comprehend disciplinary texts written in English. As a result, reading comprehension of academic texts written in English and in Spanish has become a focus of investigation for Chilean researchers, bringing up questions such as: how much do university students comprehend when facing an academic text? Is there any relation between levels of comprehension and the knowledge students have about the genre they have to read? Can reading skills be transferred to a process developed in a second language? Approaching some of these questions, in this chapter we examine the comprehension process executed by undergraduate university students when facing disciplinary texts written in English and in Spanish. The students belonged to an Industrial Chemistry programme. We focused on the level of comprehension these students achieved when facing a Disciplinary Text written in English and also on the way that level of comprehension was predicted by the participants’ English proficiency level, their degree of insertion into the disciplinary community, and their reading skills in Spanish.


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