Desarrollo de habilidades tempranas de la destreza lectora en inglés como lengua extranjera

  1. Fernández Corbacho, Analí
Supervised by:
  1. Francisco Herrero Machancoses Director
  2. María del Carmen Fonseca Mora Director

Defence university: Universidad de Huelva

Fecha de defensa: 19 February 2016

  1. Pilar Jara Jiménez Chair
  2. Fernando David Rubio Alcalá Secretary
  3. Carmen Ramos Méndez Committee member

Type: Thesis


The importance of learning to read has been widely acknowledged due to its relevance in personal, intellectual and social development. Despite its importance for all school-based learning, international and national reading tests for Primary and Secondary students show that reading difficulties are present both in the mother tongue (LI) and in the second language (L2) or in the foreign language (FL). This is something especially worrying in a developed country such as Spain. A considerable amount of research on reading skills has been carried out. However, there are still areas which need further investigation, especially regarding early reading skills in a foreign language. Numerous studies have been conducted with English L2 learners, many of them Hispanics, in the USA. However, the extrapolation of those results to FL contexts should be reconsidered in view of the different settings and conditions involved: English FL students are not so widely and often exposed to the target language -mainly just in the classroom- and rarely instructed in it. Moreover, most Spanish learners who are exposed to written English already know how to read in the LI. However, they are still not able to speak in the FL, even their oral vocabulary knowledge is rather poor. Nonetheless, linguistic aspects are not the only influencing factors on the FL reading skill. Cognitive and sociocultural issues are to be considered. This PhD thesis aims at analyzing 7-8-year-old Spanish learners' reading problems in English as a FL. The influence of LI reading performance and other cognitive and sociocultural variables is a major focus of this work. Reading tests -in English and Spanish, a cognitive abilities test and a sociocultural questionnaire have been administered to 47 second-grade Spanish learners of English as a FL. Data collection has been supplemented with information gathered from interviews with test administrators and school staff. The results confirm the influence of LI development in FL reading and point out the major role of FL phonological and decoding skills, together with oral language, frequently overlooked in reading tests. The sociocultural situation of the learners and two cognitive variables, working memory and processing speed, have also proved essential to understanding reading problems in the FL. It has also been determined whether the reading skills that were measured at the start of the school year were successful predictors of low academic achievement in the subjects of Foreign Language (English) and Spanish Language at the end of the year. Apart from that, this work underlines the need of teacher formation in order to identify struggling readers and to develop efficient reading programs. Moreover, the lack of standardized reading tests, in Spanish and English, appropriate for FL contexts is argued; in this vein, a reading assessment tool is suggested. Besides, a didactic framework based on the results of this study is presented.