The acid test : does upper secondary EFL instruction effectively prepare Norwegian students for the reading of English textbooks at colleges and universities?
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AbstractThe present quantitative, descriptive and exploratory study investigates whether, and to what extent, Norwegian upper secondary EFL instruction prepares for the reading of English texts and textbooks in higher education. It uses questionnaires, and a combination of self-assessment items and an academic English reading test (IELTS)to measure English reading proficiency. The samples comprise student respondents from the university and college level as well as senior upper secondary level students from the General Studies branch. Test scores of the senior upper secondary school respondents from the General Studies branch revealed that two thirds would not manage thelevel required for admission to universities in English speaking countries. Likewise, test and selfassessment scores of university level respondents indicated that reading problems persisted in higher education, with between 30 and 40 percent of the respondents experiencing difficulties.
A closer analysis revealed that the difficulties experienced by many respondents were due to poor language proficiency, exacerbated by a counterproductive tendency towards careful reading with excessive focus on ascertaining the meaning of unknown words. The respondents who indulged in the extracurricular reading of English or had had Content and Language Integrated Learning courses were among those with the highest scores. Rather unexpectedly, completing the upper secondary level Advanced English Course did not give an advantage. Nor did study experience. Though the findings in this descriptive and exploratory study need to be confirmed in follow-up studies, they clearly indicate the urgent need for changes in the syllabi and teaching of Norwegian EFL instruction.