A critical analysis of voluntary reading in English among Taiwanese university students
thesisposted on 15.12.2014, 10:43 by Wen-Ling. Tsai
Reading instruction in Taiwan and elsewhere has traditionally focused on intensive classroom teaching. Such an approach may prove successful in terms of scores on reading tests or grades in courses. The problem is that it simply is not complete; it does not cultivate a reader who chooses to read. Therefore, there has been a call for free voluntary reading to complement reading instruction, to extend and consolidate its effectiveness (e.g. Nuttall, 1996; Eskey and Grabe, 1988).;Although free voluntary reading has been claimed by L1 and L2 educators to be beneficial for language and cognitive development (e.g. Krashen, 1993b), there are only a few research studies which have investigated it and even less research has been undertaken in Taiwan to determine its benefits. Unfamiliarity with free voluntary reading and a lack of appreciation of its likely benefits led to considerable difficulties in gaining access to readers in Taiwan to implement an experimental programme.;In this study, sixty-three college freshmen, studying at two universities in Taiwan, participated in a free voluntary reading programme. The thesis described the free voluntary reading activities of the college freshmen. It tried to assess the extent and the variety of their reading attitudes, reading habits, and perceptions about reading for enjoyment. In particular, it attempts to identify the differences between comparison groups varying in gender, university, continuity of reading, and test achievement scores.;Data in the study is drawn from reading questionnaires, grammar proficiency tests, and reading journals. The test results showed an improvement in particular with those subjects who continued free voluntary reading throughout the experiment. From questionnaires and reading journals, three problems that hampered free voluntary activities were identified: vocabulary problem, faulty reading habits and attitude, and inability to locate suitable reading material.