Difficulties in Reading English Words: How do Japanese Learners Perform on a Test of Phonological Deficit?
David Coulson, Mayumi Ariiso, Rina Kojima, and Masami Tanaka
University of Niigata Prefecture
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7820/vli.v02.1.coulson.et.al
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Abstract
The motivation for this research is the observation of frequent read-aloud
miscues among Japanese university students, and the slow rate of reading
on simplified graded readers by many post-secondary learners. We
investigate what components of the second-language reading complex
may remain undeveloped. Word recognition in different languages
employs different phonological processes; so inadequately developed skill
in the foreign language processes may lead to poor decoding. This
situation requires formal assessment. However, practical tests of word-
recognition skill for second-language learners are not well developed.
Therefore, we adapted a test from Wydell and Kondo, replicating their
methodology to test the phonological skill of a JapaneseEnglish
bilingual diagnosed with dyslexia. We do not assume dyslexia among
Japanese English learners. Rather, the use of this test format aims to
elucidate the state of phonological skill of word-recognition ability in
ordinary learners. The subjects were university students at discrete
proficiency levels. The results show that this skill can be remarkably
underdeveloped. The average skill of subjects with lower proficiency was
similar to the objective standard of Wydell and Kondo’s English-reading
disabled subject. Higher-proficiency subjects performed much better. The
results do not imply dyslexia, although some lower-proficiency students
may, in fact, be English-dyslexic. Instead, they focus attention on the lack
of appropriate reading skills development in English education in Japan,
and its possible effect on overall proficiency. This situation principally
indicates a need for prolonged phonics training and more extensive L2
reading.

Citation
Coulson, D., Ariiso, M., Kojima, R., & Tanaka, M. (2013). Difficulties in reading English words: How do Japanese learners perform on a test of phonological deficit? Vocabulary Learning and Instruction, 2 (1), 56-63. doi: 10.7820/vli.v02.1.coulson.et.al