March 9 Dissertation Defense – Jing Zhou


PhD in Second Language Studies Dissertation Defense

Jing Zhou

Component Skills of Reading among Learners of Chinese as a Second Language

Chair: Richard R. Day

Friday, March 9, 1:00–3:00 p.m.
Moore Hall, Room 155A



The component-skill approach to reading comprehension) intended to understand reading as a complex but decomposable component -skill system where various component skills contribute to reading comprehension while interacting with each other. Even though significant progress has been made in understanding how various component skills collaborate to contribute to second language (L2) reading comprehension, there is a lack of empirical studies that examine the component skills of L2 Chinese reading.

To fill this gap, this dissertation examines the direct and indirect effects of semantic radical knowledge, character knowledge, morphological knowledge, vocabulary knowledge and grammar knowledge to L2 Chinese reading. Using a mixed method research approach, this dissertation investigates the direct and indirect effects of components skills on L2 Chinese reading, the component skills that distinguished skilled and less-skilled readers, learners’ perception of L2 Chinese reading, as well as the convergence and divergence of quantitative and qualitative data.

The participants were 209 learners of Chinese as a second language. A test battery with 12 subtests was designed to measure six latent constructs, including a receptive semantic radical knowledge test and a semantic radical meaning matching test; a lexical decision test and a character knowledge test; a morpheme discrimination test and a compound structure discrimination test; a receptive vocabulary knowledge test and a vocabulary synonym test; a word order test and a grammaticality judgment test; and a multiple-choice reading comprehension test and a cloze test. Thirteen interviews and four focus groups were conducted among 25 participants.

The main findings of the study include:
• Vocabulary knowledge was found to have a significant direct effect on L2 Chinese reading comprehension.
• The receptive vocabulary knowledge test score and vocabulary synonym test score could best distinguish skilled from less-skilled readers

The pedagogical implications of extensive reading for L2 Chinese reading are discussed.