Reading Attitude as a Predictor of Reading Proficiency for Senior High School English Learners in China
As the concept of key competencies is highlighted as the emphasis and guideline: the pursuit of education should be combined with knowledge, skills, emotional attitude, cultural awareness, and morality, etc., students’ affective domain in Chinese English literacy education starts to gain increasing attention. Research on first language (L1) reading reveals that reading attitude influences reading skills (Morgan & Fuchs, 2007) and strongly affects reading proficiency (McKenna & Kear, 1990). However, most of the current views of reading attitude are shaped by the research on L1 learners, leaving the field of Second Language (L2) reading attitude an unexplored area (Kim, 2016; Lee & Schallert, 2014). Hence, the present study investigated English language learners’ English reading attitude and its relation to English reading proficiency within the context of Chinese senior high schools. Three hundred and ninety-eight Chinese 11th grade students from three senior high schools in Guangzhou completed an English reading attitude questionnaire. Scores from their English reading comprehension test were collected to indicate their English reading proficiency. Data was quantitatively analyzed using descriptive statistics, exploratory factor analysis, correlation, multiple regression, and t-test. Results showed that while students had strong beliefs concerning the values and usefulness from English reading, they also had strong negative emotions towards English reading. Of the six factors displayed to measure L2 reading attitude in this study, Negative Affect and Self-assessment significantly contributed to L2 reading proficiency (p < .05). With regard to the differences in how students perceive English reading between high-achievers and low-achievers, significant differences were found in Cognitive Attitude, Negative Affect, Conative Attitude and Self-assessment. Several contributing factors were confirmed to predict English reading attitude, including Reading Frequency, Teachers’ Encouragement, Parents’ Encouragement, and Gender. More specifically, how often students read English books for pleasure was a strong predictor of L2 reading attitude. This study adds to the rapidly expanding field of the affective components of L2 reading development in China, and contributes to existing knowledge of L2 reading attitude and its relation to L2 reading proficiency by addressing the research gap with high school participants in mainland Chinese educational context.