How does studying abroad change Chinese students' choice of reading strategies?





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University of Toronto Press



Peer reviewed



This study examines the extent to which IELTS reading reliably tests the needs of academic reading. Fifty-two IELTS test-takers enrolled on a 10-week IELTS course in Ireland were recruited for a mixed-method investigation into their reading strategies. In order to compare changes in participants’ beliefs about their strategy use with their actual use of strategies during reading, questionnaires and think-aloud were conducted at the beginning and the end of the IELTS class. A third think-aloud was carried out after the participants started university study, exploring the longitudinal impact of IELTS training on academic reading. Strategies were categorised and analysed based on processing depth: text-base(d), situation model, and comprehension monitoring. Finally, 12 participants and 5 IELTS teachers were interviewed about how IELTS-prep might have influence on academic reading. The findings of this study indicate that the IELTS reading task and academic reading trigger different types of processing. Furthermore, how participants perceived their strategy use was by no means identical to what they were observed to do in practice. The participants were, to some extent, increasingly aligning their approach to academic reading to the narrower expectations of the IELTS test – a potentially constraining type of washback. This finding was confirmed through the interview data, where it was found that pedagogical practices associated with test preparation were at risk of influencing reading strategies more generally and over the longer term. It is proposed based on these findings that future IELTS test design should accommodate the full range of academic reading needs.



L2 academic reading, combinations of strategies, syntactic parsing, levels of processing


Liu, J. (2016) How does studying abroad change Chinese students' choice of reading strategies? The Canadian Modern Language Review, 72(1), pp. 40-65.


Research Institute