Directory per i servizi di traduzione
 The translation workplace
Miscue Analysis in Reading a Second Language Translation Article Knowledgebase

Articles about translation and interpreting
Article Categories
Search Articles

Advanced Search
About the Articles Knowledgebase has created this section with the goals of:

Further enabling knowledge sharing among professionals
Providing resources for the education of clients and translators
Offering an additional channel for promotion of members (as authors)

We invite your participation and feedback concerning this new resource.

More info and discussion >

Article Options
Your Favorite Articles
Recommended Articles
  1. overview and action plan (#1 of 8): Sourcing (ie. jobs / directory)
  2. Translation User Manual
  3. Getting the most out of A guide for translators and interpreters
  4. El significado de los dichos populares
  5. The difference between editing and proofreading
No recommended articles found.
Popular Authors
  1. Dr. James Herbert
  2. Sahar Bajelani
  3. plesar
  4. Dan Marasescu
  5. paula13
No popular authors found.

 »  Articles Overview  »  Miscellaneous  »  Miscue Analysis in Reading a Second Language

Miscue Analysis in Reading a Second Language

By tolistefl | Published  09/26/2007 | Miscellaneous | Recommendation:
Contact the author
Da Greco a Inglese translator

See this author's profile
Reading is an activity that everybody, even with little schooling, has been taught, either formally at school or informally at home by a more knowledgeable relative. It is a window to a new world because it allows the person access to the vast world of stored (written or electronically-saved) knowledge.
Besides its obvious usefulness as a social skill, reading is also an indispensable educational tool; most of studying is conducted through reading and quite a lot of classtime is invested in the students (and the teacher, but to a lesser extent) reading aloud. Therefore, such an important activity needs to be studied, the reader's faults be identified and, hopefully, rectified.
In this paper, the first part will deal with the theoretical foundations of teaching, investigating the models and modes of reading, dwelving briefly into the differences between reading in the native language and reading in a foreign language, examining reading aloud and concluding with the method of miscue analysis.
The second part will deal with a research project on miscue analysis; its purpose being to examine the validity of a certain model of miscue analysis as applied on Greek learners of English and to propose certain improvements. Finally, the Conclusions and Implications unit interprets the results of the research and points the teacher (and the researcher) some further steps onwards.

An attempt will be made in this unit of the paper to present the different models of reading pointing out their strong points along with their shortcomings, illustrate the theory refinement by the development of reading modes and contrast reading in one's native language to reading in a foreign language. Then reading aloud will be examined and, finally, the theory of miscue analysis will be presented and a specific model of this method of studying reading will be analytically introduced and examined.

i Models of Reading
The process of reading explains the way a reader tackles and comprehends a text. Reading comprehension encompasses a variety of factors, such as comprehension of the printed characters, background knowledge, (dis)interest in the passage being read, the mastering of reading strategies (inferencing and predicting, being the two most important), and linguistic ability (Barnett, 1986, p 343). The different models of reading processes can be theoretically divided in two broad categories; the linear models, ie the Bottom-Up and the Top-Down, and the interactive models. It is important to underline the fact that, as reading and its comprehension both take place within the reader's mind, these models are all of a theoretical nature and are not scientific absolutes.

a Bottom-Up
Initially, the world of reading theory was dominated by the Bottom-Up model, where the reader is passively interpreting the text from its basic units (letters, their phonic equivalents and words) to its more complicated and larger entities (clauses, phrases, sentences). Gough's model (1972) propounded the visual recognition of individual letters before their visual grouping into meaningful strings, ie "words" and this model became the most characteristic one of Bottom-Up reading (Davies, 1995, p 60). Therefore, the reader was considered, per se, a decoder of a concealed text, especially when this occurred in Second Language reading (Dubin & Bycina, 1991, p 196, Hawkins, 1991, pp 170-1 and Carrell et al, 1988, p 2).
The main limitation of this model is that reading becomes very laborious and that, especially in English and other languages with too many graphophonic rules, such a visual recognition could be inapplicable. More recent research does not seem to support the Bottom-Up models (Davies, 1995, p 60).

b Top-Down
Next, Top-Down theory came, whereupon the researchers attributed to the reader an active role in which his/her understanding springs from a merging of his/her linguistic abilities (later to be defined as "linguistic background knowledge") and his/her conceptual abilities (equally, "cognitive background knowledge"). Thus, the reader takes up an industrious game like a puzzle, where reading in large segments (several words at a time) and employing his/her pre-existing knowledge, he/she tries to guess the meaning of the things he/she does not grasp (Carrell et al, 1988, p 4 and Dubin & Bycina, 1991, p 197).
The most important model of this school of thought was the "Psycholinguistic model" dealing with the interaction of language and thought. Here, anticipation of what is coming next or prediction are the key aspects and it heavily con-trasts with Gough's model in that it limits visual recogni-tion to an only-once-occurring activity (Carrell et al, 1988, p 2, Davies, 1995, p 61 and Goodman, 1975, pp 14-20).
Prediction in reading is a good representation of what occurs with a beginning reader in his reader or with fluent and efficient readers and miscue analysis (which is presented later in this paper). The main weakness is that it tries to apply the concepts of reading of the former group of readers to the latter ones. Another weakness is that it does not apply well to second language readers (Davies, 1995, p 62)

c Interactive Models
In a general sense, what evolved from the succession of the Bottom-Up model by the Top-Down one is the dispute between "passive" and "active" (Carrell et al, 1988, p 2). So, the next step was to combine the two theories in a merged model called Interactive Reading where the reader works both ways, each way assisting the other where it fails. The important interactive models include the Laberge & Samuels, the Rumelhart (Samuels & Kamil, 1984, p 24) and the McClelland et al model updating the Rumelhart one (Davies, 1995, p 63). Laberge & Samuels (1974) emphasized the automatic nature of the aforementioned processes. Rumelhart (1977) based his reading model on flexible processing and on interpretation of the material read depending upon contextual circumstances.
The obvious advantage of interactive reading (if the reader is trained correctly to employ it avoiding a sterile linear method) is that he/she employs both analytical decoding and prediction about forthcoming items based upon visual, orthographic, lexical, semantic, syntactic and schematic information. In summary, the eye reads the words (visual information store), transfers them to the brain (feature extraction device), the latter attempts to match them to pre-existing data (pattern synthesizer) and, thus, understand them and then makes predictions (through syntacitcal, semantic, orthographic and lexical knowledge) about information to come (which are in the next instant approved or turned down as the eye absorbs further data) (Davies, 1995, pp 63-5 and Dubin & Bycina, 1991, p 197-8).
More analytically, a typical stratified interactive model is shown in Table I (Donin & Silva, 1993, p 375).
The main advantage of interactive reading is that it combines the strengths of both Bottom-Up and Top-Down reading. Also, the model explains that the weaknesses of the reader in syntax may shift him/her towards using more heavily his/her othrographic or lexical knowledge. This of course implies that the operation of the model is applicable to laboratory investigation.


Component Processes Resulting Representation
Processing Natural-Language Structures
Morpho-lexical processing -> Lexical - morphological
Syntactical analysis (par-) -> Syntactical structures
Processing Propositional Meanings
Semantic interpretation -> Base propositions
Micro-proposition inferences -> Complete base proposi-
Contextual inferences -> Augmented propositions
Conceptual Processing
Integration of propositions Propositional networks
into connected semantic -> (conceptual graphs)
Network elaboration ope- -> Augmented propositional
rations networks
Frame generation -> Conceptual frame struc-
Frame inference -> Elaborated - generalised
Integration of frames into Modifications to stored
knowledge structure -> knowledge

d Schema Theory
The Schema theory, though technically not a reading model in the strict sense of the term, is worth mentioning in this chapter. Introducing for the first time clearly the role of memory-stored knowledge to the understanding a text read, it studies the basic components which reading comprehension depends on (Hawkins, 1991, p 176). The Schema theory played an important part in the development of further models. Carrell defines Schemata as "culture specific knowledge" (Carrell et al 1988, p 2). She then distinguishes between content schemata (something similar to linguistic preconceptions) and formal schemata (rhetorical structure of the text) (Carrell et al, 1988, p 4). Schemata can also be defined as knowledge already stored in memory and are theorised to facilitate the perception of new material by their interaction (Anderson & Pearson, 1984, p 37). Though old, Bartlett's definition of Schema (1932) as "an active organisation of past reactions, or past experiences" (Anderson & Pearson, 1984, p 39) is interesting for its inclusion of the sense of organisation within the memory area. According to Ausubel, schemata, when well-defined, "subsume" or "anchor" the new in-coming items. He introduced the idea that an abstract placed ahead of the main passage can provide a guide for the reader whose schemata are insecure (Anderson & Pearson, 1984, p 41).

ii Modes of Reading
An EFL-based study of advanced readers was conducted by Hedge and resulted in the creation of modes, an integration of the various models (bottom-up, top-down and interactive). Hedge's main question was that her expectations of her readers did not match their modus operandi and, even worse, each reader did not seem to remain "loyal" to any model during his/her reading activity. Her observations showed that readers tended to shift from the use of one model to the other.
By classification of their behaviours during reading time, she concluded on the formation of six categories, called reading modes:
i) interactive,
ii) top-down relative data exclusion (mostly excluding text data),
iii) top-down, deferred interactive (interactive in nature but processing the data in a top-down method first),
iv) bottom-up, non-recursive (mostly excluding conceptual knowledge and not re-reading),
v) bottom-up, recursive (mostly excluding conceptual knowledge but re-reading) and
vi) bottom-up, recursive, deferred interactive (interactive in nature but processing the data in a bottom-up method first) (Davies, 1995, pp 75-6).
The main weakness of this arrangement is that it does not include the most basic level of bottom-up processing (actual visual imput). Hedge has made up for this limitation by introducing the concept of anchors (referring back to the schema theory). These divide in linguistic (which sub-divide into lexical-semantic and discourse) and content (which range from general to specific). The anchors combining with the modes explain more in detail the selection of reading activity. Furthermore, Hedge theorised that the reading behaviour is dependent upon the "drivers" , ie, the reason for which the reader reads; the four main drivers being meaning, gist, language acquisition and language acquisition and/or meaning (Davies, 1995, pp 77-8).

iii Reading in L1 as Compared to Reading in L2
Reading differs greatly when it deals with readers of a native language and readers of a foreign language (the native reader has a complete (or near-complete) hold of the language wheras the foreigner who is still learning lacks in liguistic elements). To make the study more effective, both of these categories should be sub-divided into beginning and skilled readers. Obviously, an advanced reader may have professional or academic interests in the activity (or simply a more explainable curiosity and drive to learn) whereas the beginning reader may have none or has it in a more internal and unexplainable form (the subcategory of beginning foreign language readers often may have no incentive at all). The abilities and aims of these four subcategories differ greatly; another affecting factor is also their cultural limitations (Davies, 1995, pp 79-81). To understand this point, the reader should try to imagine a devoted muslim male reader engaging a text about the western feminist movement or an average western person reading about tribal customs and practices, say, in Australia.
An affecting factor in foreign language reading might be reading in the maternal language itself, as there is the element of transfer of skills from the one language to the other (Barnett, 1989, pp 71-4 and Nuttall, 1982, p 37).
The normal expectation is that native language reading will be better than foreign language reading and most of the subjects interviewed said that this was due to lingustic proficiency (Barnett, 1989, p 51). An interesting illustration of the difference between reading in one's native language and reading in a foreign one is quoted below (Williams, 1991, pp 4-5):

... two readers were asked to read aloud a text that included the sentence "The rabbit is fussy about what he eats." One reader already knows English, but is learning to read, and the other reader is learning English, but knows how to "read aloud".

Reader1: This rabbit is ... ss ... ff ... ssff ... ffssy ... fussy about ... what he eats.
Teacher: Does this rabbit eat everything?
Reader1: No. He's fussy.
Teacher: Are you fussy?
Reader1: Sometimes. I don't like chicken.

Reader2: This ... rabbit ... is ... fussy ... about ... what ... he ... eats.
Teacher: Does the rabbit eat everything?
Reader2: Yes, but he is hungry. He's hungry and what is he going to eat?
Teacher: I see. And "fussy" means ...
Reader2: It means "hungry", but what can he eat? About what?

Obviously, Reader1 (a 5-year-old native speaker) knows all the words of the sentence, "fussy" being the most difficult of them, because, maybe, his/her parents have used it before on him/her. He is in full contact with the meaning of the text but he has difficult in decoding the symbols and, subsequently, in pronouncing the sentence. Reader2, is an adult learner of English and though he/she can learn much more easily (he/she transfers his/her reading skills from his/her native language) he/she does not communicate with the text because he/she misinterprets "fussy" (assigning it the meaning "hungry").

iv Reading Aloud
Reading aloud differs from silent reading primarily in the speed. Reading aloud is much slower as the reader has to pronounce the words. This is obvious in cases of silent reading where the reader is observed to subvocalise, ie, to move his/her lips or even murmur the words of the text (in essence, to be reading semi-aloud (Nutall, 1982, p 37).
Reading aloud is a common teaching practice and has been used to assist the children learn the correct pronunciation of the words (as they can be corrected by the teacher). An important question mark is whether it facilitates the student or not. Its main importance is that without reading aloud, the researchers would have great difficulties to study the reading methods (approaches, models and modes) and to record possible reading errors.

v Miscue Analysis
Miscue analysis refers to the study of the text alterations conducted by the subject while he/she reads the text and would be totally impossible without reading aloud. Researchers who have contributed to miscue analysis are Marie Clay, Kenneth Goodman and Rose-Marie Weber (Davies, 1995, p 13).
The alterations (according to Language in the National Curriculum team) often encountered while the subject reads are: substitution (a word is pronounced instead of the printed word), self-correction (the reader realises his/her mistake and corrects on his/her own), repetition (the word is repeated, usually twice), omission (a word of the text is skipped), insertion (the reader "adds" a word of his/her own), reversal (the word order gets inverted), hesitation (the reader pauses or pronounces a vowel sound "e" or "a" of hesitation) and long pause where the teacher's assistance is required.
The significance of these miscues, simply analysed, is that hesitation, long pauses and self-correction show a more Bottom-up approach with the reader giving most of his/her attention to pronouncing the printed words. Miscues such as omission, insertion, reversal and substitution show a freer, more Top-down reading where the reader is absorbing mostly the meaning of the text rather than paying too much attention to its words one by one.
The position of this paper is that this model of miscue analysis, the only one encountered in detail within the limited reading of this paper, is not really applicable in foreign language reading, as it does not measure the punctuation (mis)identifications by the reader. This often presents a problem with foreign learners who, in their effort to pronounce the text correctly, totally level all sorts of punctuation. Punctuation miscue is an indicator of Bottom-up reading as punctuation was devised in antiquity as a visual aid to simplify the comprehension of certain long or ambiguous sentences.

The research project was conducted in the week of 18th - 22nd of March 1996 and was done during classtime with the consent of the two schools involved. All readings were recorded and the cassette with the recordings remains in the possession of the undersigned, available at request. The time limitations did not permit a more expanded project, neither did they permit the endeavour into other areas, such as reading in the mother language (as a control factor), reading speed and text difficulty.

i Purpose
The purpose of this project was to show that the miscue analysis model of the Language in the National Curriculum team is not directly useful to the researcher of a foreign language classroom as it does not include punctuation. The purpose of including punctuation was to show that learners of a foreign language are very text-bound (bottom-up approach) and thus do not have the ability to understand the meaning of the text.
An obvious feature to any listener of the recording will be the pronunciation errors committed by the students; however, these were not included in the miscue analysis as they are not related to reading only.

ii Sample
The sample of students chosen were 9 Greek students from three different levels and two different schools of foreign languages (frontisteria, as they are called in Greek) of the eastern/northeastern quadrant of the Major Athens area. All nine students (6 females and 3 males) volunteered for this task after being informed in detail about it.
They were codenamed: 1313, 2314, 1512, 1513, 2515, 1614, 1618, 2617 and 2618. Their codes contain: in the first digit their gender (1 for females and 2 for males), in the second digit their level (3 for C level, 5 for Pre-First Certificate level and 6 for First Certificate level, all levels adjusted on a Cambridge examinations programme) and at the last two digits their age (ranging from 12 to 18).

iii Texts Employed
Three texts were employed on each level. The first one at each level was taken from a technical manual and was aimed to contain terminology that they would not be familiar with and also to be of a content that would be outside any background of the students. The second text was related to history and was something that had been talked about previously in class. The third poem in each case was a poem with rhyme and metre, selected for with the rationale that it should contain fewer miscue analysis errors as the reader would get carried along by the metre and rhyme. Analytically, the texts employed were the following:
For level 3: "Diving" in U.S. Divers Co, Inc., U.S. Divers - Aqua Lung, p 2, U.S. Divers, USA, 1990, "Night", an extract from Wiesel, E., Night, p 32, Bantam Books, New York, 1986 and a poem, Frost, R., Fire and Ice, in Perrine, L. (ed), Literature: Structure, Sound and Sense, p 636, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., USA, 1978.
For level 5: "Scubaphone" in Orcatron Manufacturing Ltd, Scubaphone User Manual, p 2, Orcatron Manufacturing Ltd, Vancouver, 1988, "History", in Wallbank, T. W. et al, History and Life: The World and Its People, pp 598-9, Scott, Foremann and Co, USA, 1980 and a poem, Burns R., A Red, Red Rose, in Perrine, L. (ed), Literature: Structure, Sound and Sense, p 647, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., USA, 1978.
For level 6: "Fishfinder" in Suzuki Motor Co, Ltd, Suzuki SH 600 Depth/Fish Finder - Owner's Manual, Suzuki Motor Co., Japan, 1989, "Darwin" in Wallbank, T. W. et al, History and Life: The World and Its People, p 487, Scott, Foremann and Co, USA, 1980 and a poem, Teasdale, S., Barter in Perrine, L. (ed), Literature: Structure, Sound and Sense, p 682, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., USA, 1978.

iv Research Methodology
The texts were handed to the students who had half a minute to a minute to study them silently. No explanations of unknown words were given prior to reading the text.
The texts were recorded and then marked methodically in the quiet of a private study room. The marking code used is the one suggested by the Language in the National Curriculum: the substituted word is hand-written above the printed one, the repetition is underlined (multiple repetition is double-underlined), the omitted word is encircled, the inserted word is handwritten above a triangle, the hesitation is a slash and the punctuation omitted or added is encircled.

v Results
The miscue of self-correction was counted together with repetition as, in case of non-correction, it was counted as substitution. All the percentages in the tables that follow have been rounded to the nearest integer.

Table II presents analytically the miscues of each student on each text. There were no reversals noted, so this type of miscue is omitted henceforth from the Table I (and the rest of the tables, too). An obvious conclusion is that the percentage of word omissions is negligible (in fact, both omission miscues were committed by the same student, 1614, on the same text, Darwin). Also small was the percentage of insertions, barely 3%. As large numbers in these miscues show a tendency towards top-down reading and text boundedness, a first conclusion is that, in general, the students used more of a bottom-up approach than anything else. But, there is the need to examine more thoroughly the miscues (and in more restricted fields) to be able to discuss the models employed in reading.


Subst. Repet. Omis. Inser. Hesit. Punct. TOTAL
Diving 2314 3 15 0 0 6 2 26
Night 2314 0 8 0 1 2 1 12
Fire and Ice 2314 1 1 0 0 1 2 5
Diving 1313 1 8 0 1 4 2 16
Night 1313 2 5 0 1 0 0 8
Fire and Ice 1313 3 0 0 0 0 0 3
History 1513 0 4 0 1 2 5 12
Scubaphone 1513 1 6 0 1 1 1 10
Red Rose 1513 0 1 0 0 5 0 6
History 1512 0 3 0 1 2 1 7
Scubaphone 1512 1 3 0 0 0 1 5
Red Rose 1512 0 0 0 0 3 2 5
History 2515 1 1 0 0 3 3 8
Scubaphone 2515 0 3 0 0 4 0 7
Red Rose 2515 1 3 0 0 3 1 8
Fishfinder 1618 2 3 0 0 1 2 8
Darwin 1618 3 3 0 0 1 1 8
Barter 1618 4 0 0 0 0 0 4
Fishfinder 2617 1 4 0 0 2 0 7
Darwin 2617 7 5 0 1 0 0 13
Barter 2617 3 1 0 0 0 1 5
Fishfinder 1614 4 1 0 0 2 0 7
Darwin 1614 2 8 2 0 1 2 15
Barter 1614 0 3 0 0 0 2 5
Fishfinder 2618 0 2 0 0 7 0 9
Darwin 2618 2 6 0 0 5 0 13
Barter 2618 0 1 0 0 1 0 2
TOTAL 42 98 2 7 56 29 234
Percent of TOTAL 18 42 1 3 24 12 100

In a first level, one would have to agree that, within the limited scope of this research, the addition of punctuation miscues in the model was important, as they constituted 12.4% (one eight) of the miscues observed. In a theoretical perspective, punctuation miscues would reveal an arduous bottom-up approach that does not permit the student to appreciate the text. Therefore, this first conclusion agrees with the low numbers of word omissions and insertions and the lack of reversals but, again, the significance of these miscues will be discussed later in more specific contexts.

Table III depicts the miscues per text and summarily per category of texts. Whereas the poems have understandably less miscues (they are considerably shorter, so they cannot be compared) there are significantly more substitutions in this category of texts (28% versus 18% and 15% in the other two categories) and there are also significantly more punctuation miscues (19% versus 13% and 8%). It also happens that there are significantly less repetitions (23% versus 45% and 47%) which means that the student is reading more confidently. All three of these results could be accounted by the "picking up of rhythm" from the text. The only disharmony in this conclusion is the inexplicably high percentage of hesitations (30% versus 17% and 28%), where the confidence in reading should have kept this percentage in lower levels; the only explanation for this can be the archaic forms and contracted words of the poetic texts that may "estrange: the student.


Subst. Repet. Omis. Inser. Hesit. Punct. TOTAL
Fire and Ice 4 1 0 0 1 2 8
Barter 7 5 0 0 1 3 16
Red Rose 1 4 0 0 11 3 19
POEMS' TOTAL 13 10 0 0 13 8 43
Percent of total 28 23 0 0 30 19 100
Night 2 13 0 2 2 1 20
History 1 8 0 2 7 9 27
Darwin 14 22 2 1 7 3 49
HISTORICAL TOTAL 17 43 2 5 16 13 96
Percent of total 18 45 2 5 17 13 100
Diving 4 23 0 1 10 4 42
Scubaphone 2 12 0 1 5 2 22
Fishfinder 7 10 0 0 12 2 31
TECHNICAL TOTAL 13 45 0 2 27 8 95
Percent of total 15 47 0 2 28 8 100
TOTAL 42 98 2 7 56 29 234
Percent of TOTAL 18 42 1 3 24 12 100

The historical texts show much more context-boundedness and top-down processing; of course, they talk about things which the students are more or less familiar with from school and other readings (primarily in their maternal language). Therefore, these texts present the only instances of word omissions (2%) and the highest percentage in word insertion (5% versus 0% and 2%).
Finally, the technical texts, being the most difficult ones (as the students themselves confessed) have the highest percentage of instances of interruptions in the rate of reading, ie, repetitions plus hesitations (75% versus 53% and 62%), which suggests a more bottom-up approach and a laborious reading effort.

Table IV presents the analysis of miscues per level of students. There seems to be no clear correlation between the levels and the type of miscues committed.


Subst. Repet. Omis. Inser. Hesit. Punct. TOTAL
Fire and Ice 4 1 0 0 1 2 8
Night 2 13 0 2 2 1 20
Diving 4 23 0 1 10 4 42
TOTAL LEVEL 3 10 37 0 3 13 7 70
Percent of total 14 53 0 4 19 10 100
Red Rose 1 4 0 0 11 3 19
Scubaphone 2 12 0 1 5 2 22
History 1 8 0 2 7 9 27
TOTAL LEVEL 5 4 24 0 3 23 14 68
Percent of total 6 35 0 4 34 21 100
Fishfinder 7 10 0 0 12 2 31
Darwin 14 22 2 1 7 3 49
Barter 7 5 0 0 1 3 16
TOTAL LEVEL 6 28 37 2 1 20 8 96
Percent of total 29 39 2 1 21 8 100
TOTAL 42 98 2 7 56 29 234
Percent of TOTAL 18 42 1 3 24 12 100

All three levels demonstrated great lack of confidence during reading and this is illustrated by the very high total of repetitions and hesitations they have (53 + 19 = 72% for level 3, 35 + 34 = 69% for level 5 and 39 + 21 = 70%). Characteristically, the comment of student 1313 should be noted: "What are these, sir?", after she dutifully completed the reading task.
Level 5 shows the most text-bound reading as they have the highest percentages in hesitations and punctuation miscues and a high percentage (but, still, the lowest among the three levels) in repetitions.
Among the few comments noted down, there is the brilliant exception of 1614 who, after finishing "Barter", observed: "Nice poem; where did you find it?", indicating a clear appreciation of the text (and, as a conclusion, a less text-bound approach).

Table V illustrates the miscues according to the ages of the students. There is no clear correlation and, therefore, not much of a generalible nature can be deduced by this tabulation. One explanation is that the figures represent more the pictures of personal performance (due to the small number of students) than the picture of age averages.


Subst. Repet. Omis. Inser. Hesit. Punct. TOTAL
TOTAL AGE 12 1 6 0 1 5 4 17
Percent of total 6 35 0 6 29 24 100
TOTAL AGE 13 7 24 0 4 12 8 55
Percent of total 13 44 0 8 22 15 100
TOTAL AGE 14 10 36 2 1 12 9 70
Percent of total 14 52 3 1 17 13 100
TOTAL AGE 15 2 7 0 0 10 4 23
Percent of total 9 30 0 0 44 17 100
TOTAL AGE 17 11 10 0 1 2 1 25
Percent of total 44 40 0 4 8 4 100
TOTAL AGE 18 11 15 0 0 15 3 44
Percent of total 25 34 0 0 34 7 100
TOTAL 42 98 2 7 56 29 234
Percent of TOTAL 18 42 1 3 24 12 100

vi Discussion and Implications for the Teacher
What is the teacher to understand from the theory of reading and this (or any other) miscue analysis project? What conclusions should he/she draw about his/her teaching and are there any alterations that need to be made to his/her teaching technique?
First of all, the teacher should be interested in the over-all result that students read aloud in a mostly Bottom-up method. Comparing the models and modes, this paper concludes that the Bottom-up approach is the most inefective and burdensome one for the reader. This again poses two sub-questions: i) would learners read in a different method if they were reading silently and ii) is there any way to teach children to read in a more productive and relaxing way?
The answer to the first sub-question is that the teacher could not really ever know what method the learners use if they read silently. Therefore, as much as the suspicion remains that reading aloud hinders the learners' comprehension of the text, the teacher has to ask them to do so if he/she wants to observe their reading skills.
The answer to the second sub-question addresses mainly the teachers of the first levels of the foreign language as they put the foundations for the student's development. They must strive to transfer as many of the reading skills the student has in his/her maternal language, so as to facilitate and shape correctly the acquisition of reading skills in the foreign language. Naturally, this is a little easier with adult learners who have well-developed skills in their native language. On the other hand, children-students are more malleable learners and would, therefore, be easily shaped by an experienced teacher in the introductory levels of their second language learning.

Certain reading skills need to be "dug up" from the learner's knowledge and carried over to his/her second language acquisition process:
i) Emphasis must be placed on punctuation. Punctuation miscues show that the child makes an effort only to "pronounce" the string of words (and, to a more basic level, characters and cmbinatins of these) without giving any attention to the meaning.
Especially for Greek learners of English, punctuation is mostly common between the two languages; the only two differences being that the English questionmark "?" is transcribed in Greek as ";" and the English semicolon ";" is transcribed in Greek as a superscript period "."; this means that punctuation is already known to them and any miscues here cannot be excused through ignorance. The raison d' etre of punctuation is the simplification of the text's meaning, therefore, misapplying it points towards a confusion as to the meaning.
ii) The learner should be taught elements of speed reading, so as to learn to absorb groups of words together and give his/her mind time to interpret them. Of course, speed reading is a tool of silent reading but it can be used to facilitate reading aloud.
iii) There should be more Fill-in-the-blanks type exercises, as they sharpen the prediction skills of what may be coming up next and they cultivate the consideration of the syntactical role of each word. By building on their guessing ability, the students will be aided to read more quickly and more efficiently.

Finally, one has to ask: is reading aloud necessary? One could argue that reading aloud is a necessary element for improving the pronunciation of the student in the foreign language. But it could be counterargued that pronunciation could be improved through oral discussion and more listening (and audiovisual) tasks.
Another argument in favour of reading aloud is that is allows the teacher to check on the student's progress through the text. But, it must be said that this would only serve the reader himself/herself, whereas all the other students would remain unchecked.
Another disadvantage of reading aloud is that it has little practical value; there are not many circumstances in real life (and not many examinations, either) where the learner of a foreign language will be called to pronounce loudly the text he/she reads.
Therefore, it is up to the individual teacher to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of reading aloud and adjust his/her teaching correspondingly. It is this paper's opinion that reading aloud should be cut down on and more attention should be assigned to reading silently with reading comprehension exercises following to ensure that the learners are progressing productively through their reading tasks.

Two different sets of conclusions can be drawn; one for the researcher and one for the teacher. The researcher has to act first on the basis of his/her conclusions and is thus placed first, though the main weight falls on the teacher's conclusions since his/her profession bears the main repercussions of any educational research.

The researcher is faced with an obvious question: do all learners read in the same Bottom-up restricting way? The answer is that this paper was of a very limiting scope and, thus, a further research is needed. Some important improvements of this next effort should be:
i) A larger - and more diversified in levels and schools - student sample must be employed so that the results are more representative of the average reading skills and that the age averages and level averages are the real group-averages, i.e., the results will be statistically more reliable.
ii) The reading ability must also be tested in the mother language, as this is a fundamental point of comparison. If the reading ability in the native language is poor, then, no matter what the teacher and the school offer, no matter what books and texts are presented, the second language reading performance will always be of a low standard.
iii) A larger collection of texts should be utilised, aimed at identifying specific influences of background knowledge (schema theory) to reading performance.
iv) A form of checking the comprehension of the text by the student must be used afterwards, either in the form of reading comprehension quiz or of a discussion as reading only for the phonetic perfomance is not the target as much as the absorption of the written message.
v) Other variables should be measured, such as, the cultural background of the student (ethnic minority and culture, primarily), any other foreign languages he/she speaks and reads in, his/her reading speed as compared to the text difficulty, so that the conclusions of this next research are more solidly founded.
vi) Punctuation has been shown by this research to be an important factor as one eighth of the total miscues committed were of that category. However, it is felt that further research is needed specifically in this category; a study (with first language reading mandatorily as a point of comparison and reference) needs to be made into the frequencies of punctuation miscues (obviously, commas were most often omitted or inserted, but no miscues were noted in questionmarks) and the reasons for these "violations" ought to be examined. It is the position of this paper, based on personal, undocumented as yet, observations of the researcher) that significant errors will probably emerge in the teaching of reading in the first language, only to be transferred to the second language.

The teacher has to study the theory of reading and view this and other miscue analysis projects and reach his/her own conclusions. In the opinion of the researcher, silent reading should be increased in class at the expense of reading aloud. The study of miscues is of secondary interest to the educationalist, especially in the advanced levels of learning a foreign language.
Easier and nore efficient reading could be taught by teaching the learner how to predict what will follow and what is the role of each word in the sense. Also, the punctuation and its role in a text should be emphasized so that the student gets used to using it and, consequently, paying attention to it in the text.


1 Anderson, R. C. and Pearson, P. D., A Schema-Theoretic View of Basic Processes in Reading Comprehension in Carrell, P. L., Devine J. and Eskey D. E. (eds), Interactive Approaches to Second Language Reading, pp 168-82, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1988.
2 Barnett, M. A., More than Meets the Eye: Foreign Language Reading, Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 1989.
3 Barnett, M. A., Syntactic and Lexical/Semantic Skill in Foreign Language Reading: Importance and Interaction, Modern Language Journal, pp 343-9, vol 70 (4), 1986.
4 Davies, F., Introducing Reading, Penguin English, Lon-don, 1995.
5 Donin, J. and Silva M., The Relationship Between First- and Second- Language Reading Comprehension of Occupation-Specific Texts, Language Learning, pp 373-401, vol 43 (3), 1993.
6 Dubin, F. and Bycina, D., Academic Reading and the ESL/EFL Teacher in Celce-Murcia, M. (ed), Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language, pp 195-215, Newbury House, USA, 1991.
7 Goodman, K., The Reading Process, in in Carrell, P. L., Devine J. and Eskey D. E. (eds), Interactive Approaches to Second Language Reading, pp 11-22, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1988.
8 Hawkins, B., Teaching Children to Read in a Second Language" in Celce-Murcia, M. (ed), Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language, pp 169-84, Newbury House, USA, 1991.
9 Nuttall, C., Teaching Reading Skills in a Foreign Language, Heinemann, Oxford, 1982.
10 Samuels, S. J, and Kamil, M. J., Models of the Reading Process in Carrell, P. L., Devine J. and Eskey D. E. (eds), Interactive Approaches to Second Language Reading, pp 168-82, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1988.
11 Williams, E., Reading in the Language Classroom, Modern English Publications, London, 1991.

Comments on this article

Knowledgebase Contributions Related to this Article
  • No contributions found.
Want to contribute to the article knowledgebase? Join

Articles are copyright ©, 1999-2017, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.
Content may not be republished without the consent of