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Review of  Teaching and Researching: Reading

Reviewer: Clay Hunter Williams
Book Title: Teaching and Researching: Reading
Book Author: William Grabe Fredricka L. Stoller
Publisher: Pearson Linguistics
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Language Acquisition
Issue Number: 22.4804

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AUTHOR: William Grabe & Fredricka L. Stoller
TITLE: Teaching and Researching: Reading (Second Edition)
SERIES TITLE: Applied Linguistics in Action
PUBLISHER: Pearson Linguistics
YEAR: 2011

Clay H. Williams, English for Academic Purposes Department, Akita International
University (Japan)


Grabe and Stoller's new edition of ''Teaching and Researching Reading'' is
designed as a basic introduction to current theoretical models of reading
processing and teaching methodology for practicing first language (L1) and
second language (L2) reading instructors. The book could also serve as a useful
text for pre-service teacher training and other classes that have a teaching
practicum element. It approaches its topic matter from an introductory
standpoint, and glosses technical and professional vocabulary. The book starts
out with a broad overview of the theoretical perspectives that undergird current
understanding and research in reading processes and pedagogy. L1 and L2 reading
phenomena and theories are clearly distinguished and discussed separately. The
text then shifts towards a review of select recent research articles, which the
authors present as a representative sample of the evolving field of reading
research. Finally, the authors present a series of model action research
projects which readers are encouraged to use as a template for developing their
own classroom-based action research projects to improve their own literacy
pedagogical methodology and their students' literacy acquisition and mastery.

The first section of the book is an introduction to reading models and L2
reading in particular. Chapter 1, ''The nature of reading abilities,'' points out
the difficulty of most attempts at putting a definition to the act of reading,
as it is a task that is comprised of numerous subtasks and choices, which can
make different reading experiences almost wholly different from each other.
First, different purposes for reading (e.g. information search, skimming,
learning, general comprehension, etc.) are presented along with the skills and
strategies that fluent readers apply (consciously or not) to individual reading
tasks. Next, the authors explain the various processes which define the act of
''fluent reading,'' before going on to describe current theories on the actual
process of text to thought/concept conversion. This section is split into two
parts: ''lower level processes,'' which are usually comprised of the
skills-oriented automatic linguistic processes; and ''higher --level processes,''
which are defined as ''comprehension strategies that make much more use of the
reader's background knowledge and inferencing abilities'' (p. 13) such as
contextualization and discourse organization. The text then segues to
synthesizing existing reading models into the discussion. Bottom-up, top-down,
and interactive models are all discussed and their weak points are critiqued.
Finally, the authors give a brief run-down of current models: the Interactive
Compensatory Model (Stanovich, 2000), the Word Recognition Model (Siedenberg &
McClelland, 1989), the Simple View of Reading Model (Hoover & Gough, 1990), the
Dual-Coding Model (Sadoski, 2009; Sadoski & Paivio, 2001, 2007), and the
Psycholinguistic Guessing Game Model (Goodman, 1986, 1996) are all explained.

Chapter 2, ''Comparing L1 and L2 reading,'' begins with a description of the
myriad of unique variables in L2 reader profiles that make L2 reading processes
an area of research and inquiry distinct from those of the L1. Issues such as
language proficiencies, language exposure, and transfer (whether from L1,
background, or general knowledge) all can potentially affect the L2. The authors
elucidate the various linguistic and processing differences displayed by L1 and
L2 readers. Issues such as the varying levels of vocabulary, grammar, and
discourse mastery, superior metalinguistic and metacognitive awareness by L2
readers, differences between the L1 and L2 languages and scripts themselves, and
how the two languages interact with each other within the brains of L2 readers
are all reviewed. The authors also look at learner profiles of L1 and L2 readers
in discussing individual differences, as well as differences in the reading
experience itself. Issues such as differing levels of L1 literacy, L2 reading
motivations, and the amount and variety of experiences with L2 texts are
examined. Finally, the focus turns to social influences on L1 vs. L2 literacy
acquisition and development with examples of how socio-cultural background,
discourse organization, and educational institutional expectations can produce
disparities in L1 vs. L2 literacy development.

Section two explores current research in reading processes and instructional
methodology. Chapter 3, ''Key studies in L1 reading,'' introduces the concept of
research studies as stories. In the authors' words, ''…research studies are
stories and they contain features of story structures. Only the format and the
formal reporting features are truly different, reflecting a different target
audience and its set of well-defined expectations'' (p. 62). The authors then
proceed to ''translate'' a series of research articles by Byrne and
Fielding-Barnsley (1989, 1991, 1993, 1995) into a more traditional story
narrative, explaining the researchers' findings that early training in
sound-to-letter correspondence and phonemic identification yielded increases in
literacy skills, which were detectable as far as three years past the original
training sessions. After this presentation, with the story format clearly
defined, the authors proceed to present 10 more studies focused on L1 reading
research of note from past years. The authors review research on the correlation
between child vocabulary size and reading ability, the relationship between
early vocabulary knowledge and later literacy development, the effect of reading
fluency on reading ability, the treatment effect of reading fluency training on
overall reading ability, the role morphological awareness plays in reading
comprehension, how knowledge of discourse structure impacts reading ability,
whether or not question-making as a pre-reading strategy affects reading
comprehension, whether specific training in question formulation would
positively impact the comprehension of texts, the effect of the Concept-Oriented
Reading Instruction-based teaching methodology, and finally, a strategy-based
reading curriculum case study.

Chapter 4, ''Key studies in L2 reading,” continues in the same vein of presenting
ten different research studies, this time focusing on L2 reading processes,
beginning with three articles relating to word-level processing and vocabulary
development. The articles focus on L2 word recognition and how this is affected
by L1 transfer, the impact of sight word recognition on vocabulary learning, and
extensive reading effects on vocabulary development. The next article
demonstrates the effects of pre-teaching vocabulary on comprehension of reading
text. The next three articles focus on reading strategy use: mental translation
into L1 as a reading strategy; instructional effects on strategic reading
development; and a meta-analysis of reading strategy instructional impact on
reading comprehension in the L2. Next, the authors present two studies
concerning the effect of explicit L2 fluency training on text comprehension and
the benefits of extensive reading in the L2 on L2 literacy development,
respectively. For the final entry in the chapter, they review a study
demonstrating the impact of motivation on L2 reading and literacy attainment.

Section three, consisting only of Chapter 5, ''Teaching reading: Sound
foundations and effective practices,'' is a welcomed new addition to this edition
of the text. It focuses on the extrapolation of instructional methods and
applications from the research detailed in the prior chapters. The authors flesh
out the abilities that students must develop in order to become skilled readers
and list 9 general principles for developing reading instruction curricula
before moving into suggestions for activities and exercises to practice specific
skills and strategies. Activities such as word and phrase recognition exercises
are promoted as means for increasing students' word recognition efficiency. For
vocabulary building, the authors discuss concepts such as the importance of
providing a vocabulary-rich classroom environment and systematically selecting
vocabulary for explicit instruction. The authors cover methods such as
elaborative interrogation, and developing text structure awareness for
reading-comprehension skills practice. Shifting from skills to strategy
practice, the authors introduce activities such as a Directed Reading-Thinking
Activity and other activities to compel students to consciously activate
background knowledge and to utilize guessing as a pre-reading strategy. Next,
the authors discuss activities such as timed readings for developing and honing
L2 reading fluency before shifting to extensive reading activities, such as
sustained silent reading. While the authors acknowledge that there is no one
activity that will motivate all students to read, the authors argue that teacher
behavior and lesson design nevertheless can play an important role in student L2
reading motivation. Finally, the chapter concludes with a discussion of
content-based instruction, with particular emphasis on Concept-Oriented Reading
Instruction and Collaborative Strategic Reading.

Section 4, which includes the next 4 chapters, promotes the use of action
research by reading teacher practitioners in order to maximize the effectiveness
of reading instruction. Chapter 6, ''The reading teacher as action researcher,''
emphasizes that action research can be carried out at all levels, and that it
is, in effect, an extension of teacher-initiated inquiry which allows teachers
to ''look critically at their own classrooms to improve their teaching and
enhance the quality of learning that takes place there'' (p. 164). A step-by-step
process is enumerated and explained for the budding teaching-researcher: 1)
establishing a topic and purpose for the research; 2) posing questions; 3)
anticipating outcomes; 4) specifying data collection type; 5) determining
ethical data collection means; 6) formulating a timeline; 7) systematically
collecting data; 8) analyzing data; 9) reflection; 10) generating solutions; 11)
experimenting with the solution; and 12) sharing results.

Chapter 7, ''Vocabulary, fluency and motivation: Action research projects,''
offers a variety of action-research project ideas falling under the topics in
the title of the chapter. Nine studies are proposed: 1) to determine how to
assist students in becoming more efficient in dictionary use; 2) to determine
the effectiveness of glosses on text comprehension; 3) to encourage students'
autonomous vocabulary learning; 4) to identify student difficulty with rapid
word recognition; 5) to use oral paired reading more effectively; 6) to compare
the effectiveness of different fluency activities; 7) to analyze which
individual topics in supplementary reading motivate students to read more; 8) to
assess methods for building students’ self-image as readers; and 9) to discern
students' attitudes towards reading. All studies proposed in this chapter and
the next two chapters are organized according to the first eight steps of the
procedure outlined in Chapter 6.

Chapter 8, ''Strategic reading, discourse organization and main-idea
comprehension: Action research projects,'' outlines 9 more studies under the
topics listed in the title. The individual studies cover: 1) supporting the
development of strategic reading; 2) determining which strategies students are
using; 3) modeling strategic reading behaviors through out-loud readings; 4)
determining the effectiveness of graphic organizers (to indicate discourse
organization); 5) training students to use graphic organizers; 6) training
students to recognize signal words; 7) determining the effectiveness of
questions for evoking student discussion on texts; 8) comparing the
effectiveness of small-group and whole-class discussions for reading
comprehension; and 9) determining which grammatical structures merit explicit

Chapter 9, ''Reading-lesson stages, reading materials and extensive reading:
Action reading projects,'' continues the pattern of thematically grouped
action-research proposals. The first three studies evaluate the effect of
pre-reading, during-reading, and post-reading activities, respectively. The
reading materials section offers 4 action project ideas: 1) determining the
level of challenge in text activities; 2) documenting students' level of
exposure to non-linear texts; 3) determining goals for post-reading exercises in
curricular materials; and 4) determining potential sources of difficulty in the
materials. The extensive reading section offers up two research ideas:
inventorying available reading materials and evaluating the effectiveness of
extensive reading programs in terms of correspondence with the ten principles
advocated by Day and Bamford (1998).

Section 5, comprised of just Chapter 10, ''Resources for exploring L2 reading,''
is a reference guide of pertinent journal titles, L1 and L2 reading-related
books, action research resources for teachers, websites, and professional
organizations. This section is followed by a glossary.


This book functions as an excellent introduction to current theory on reading
processing with a very welcomed emphasis on pedagogical application. Instead of
the typical either-or (theory or practice) dilemma common to texts on reading
research, the authors manage to effectively marry the two. The text is extremely
targeted in its intended audience, however. While it would function well as a
possible pre-service teacher education text, or even in an introductory
graduate-level education or L2 teaching program with a heavy emphasis on
practice, the low level would preclude it from being taken seriously in a
theory-intensive course. Ultimately, the intended audience is practicing
teachers who merely wish to expand their understanding of reading instruction,
and who perhaps lack the training to extract useful information from research
articles directly (or, perhaps, after long days in the classroom, simply do not
wish to expend the requisite effort to do so). The formulaic presentation of
research articles in the story-telling format is innovative and rather bold on
the authors' parts, making the content extremely reader-friendly and
approachable to those who lack a research background. I'm sure that many in the
intended audience will find the straightforward style a refreshing change to the
opaque (and sometimes dry) style of research reporting normally employed in
academic tomes and journals.

The book covers a vast amount of ground, in both the theoretical grounding and
practical application, so it's understandable that no one topic goes into
considerable detail. Also, given the sizeable body of literature on reading
processing and the number of processing theories that exist, one can be sure
that the authors agonized over what to include and what to leave out. The
introduction to reading models covers the major models admirably well. In a
subsequent edition, I'd prefer if the authors gave a bit more focus to
word-level processing and lexical recall models. Given the foundational role of
word recognition in most reading models, this glancing treatment seemed odd, and
it would certainly benefit the intended audience to have some grounding in
reading models at the word level, as well as at the sentence and text levels.

The articles laid out in the third section were well chosen and provided a
thorough cross-section of interesting sub-topics in reading. The collection of
research project ideas in the fourth section made for monotonous reading, but
the ideas were solid, and for a beginning researcher, the ready-made template
would be invaluable. The resource section at the end, while not exhaustive, was
thorough and up-to-date.

In all, this book would be highly informative and useful to any practicing or
soon-to-be-practicing L2 instructor wanting to augment his/her understanding of
reading processes and/or to conduct action research. The easily approachable
writing style makes it an excellent primer text for anyone beginning studies in
L1 or L2 reading fields.


Byrne, B., & Fieldings-Barnsley, R. (1989). Phonemic awareness and letter
knowledge in the child's acquisition of the alphabetic principle. Journal of
Educational Psychology, 81, 313-321.

Byrne, B., & Fieldings-Barnsley, R. (1991). Evaluation of a program to teach
phonemic awareness to young children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 83,

Byrne, B., & Fieldings-Barnsley, R. (1993). Evaluation of a program to teach
phonemic awareness to young children: A 1-year follow-up. Journal of Educational
Psychology, 85, 104-111.

Byrne, B., & Fieldings-Barnsley, R. (1995). Evaluation of a program to teach
phonemic awareness to young children: A 2- and 3-year follow-up and a new
pre-school trial. Journal of Educational Psychology, 87, 488-503.

Day, R.R., & Bamford, J. (2002). Top ten principles for teaching extensive
reading. Reading in a Foreign Language, 14, 136-141.

Goodman, K. (1986). What's whole in whole language. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Goodman, K. (1996). On reading. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Hoover, W., & Gough, P. (1990). The simple view of reading. Reading and Writing,
2, 127-160.

Sadoski, M. (2009). Dual coding theory: Reading comprehension and beyond. In C.
Block & S.R. Parris (Eds.), Comprehension instruction: Research-based best
practices (pp. 38-49). New York: Guilford Press.

Sadoski, M., & Paivo, A. (2001). Imagery and text. Manwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Sadoski, M., & Paivo, A. (2007). Toward a unified theory of reading. Scientific
Studies of Reading, 11, 337-356.

Siedenberg, M., & McClelland, J. (1989). A distributed, developmental model of
word recognition. Psychological Review, 96, 523-568.

Stanovich, K. (2000). Progress in understanding reading: Scientific foundations
and new frontiers. New York: Guilford Press.

Clay Williams is an Assistant Professor in the English for Academic Purposes Department of Akita International University. His primary areas of research include cross-script effects on L2 literacy development, lexical access in non-alphabetic script reading, and adapting L2 teaching methodologies to East Asian classroom contexts.

Format: Paperback
ISBN: 1408205033
ISBN-13: 9781408205037
Pages: 618
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