Lezen in onderwijs en onderzoek
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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This research focuses on the comparative speed of reading in a first and in a foreign language. Dutch-speaking subjects with varying degrees of command in French were set to read a number of informative texts in Dutch and French. They were instructed to read through these texts as quickly as they could, and to summar-ize them directly afterwards in a few lines each. When dealing with Dutch texts, subjects were found to read an average of 165 words per minute. When reading the French texts, the speed of reading dropped by 20% for subjects with a completed University education in French. For third-year students of French a slow-down of 25% was found. A third group of subjects - students of various disciplines who had studied French up to Α-level only -needed as much as 150% more time for the French texts. The texts used fell into one of three categories, viz. reports (newspaper items covering everyday events), opinionating texts (newspaper items expressing point of view), and academic texts (passages from introductory academic textbooks on various subjects). When the language was Dutch, reports allowed an average reading speed of 182 words per minute, opinionating texts of 171 words per minute, and academic texts of 141 words per minute. When the results obtained on the French texts were differentiated according to text type a similar pattern emerged.As a further outcome of the experiment the assumption was con-firmed that the correlation between word recognition speed - as measured by a lexical decision task - and reading speed will be lower when the medium in both tasks is a foreign rather than subjects' own language. This is especially the case with subjects whose command of the foreign language is relatively low. These data are in keeping with recent psycholinguistic views on the reading process, and with other experimental findings as to the differences between good readers and poor readers reported from investigations into the initial stages of mother tongue reading.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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