The past few decades have witnessed a growing interest in how second language (L2) learners come to read in languages employing non-alphabetic writing systems such as Chinese and Japanese and languages employing non-Roman alphabetic systems such as Arabic and Hebrew. Indeed, with efforts afoot to begin more programs in these languages at the K-12 and collegiate levels, in immersion and bilingual settings, and with stated goals for students to eventually attain high levels in reading proficiency, an understanding of this research is critical if program development is to go forward in a principled way. This article discusses some of the theoretical developments that have helped illuminate the cross-orthographic reading process and reports on the relevant research in L2 cross-orthographic reading that has shaped our understanding of the issues involved in learning to read in languages that employ non-Roman alphabetic, logographic, and syllabary systems of writing. The article will also discuss teaching implications, strategies, and classroom practice put forth by reading practitioners, many of which have yet to find consensus.
(Online publication September 02 2011)
Michael E. Everson is an associate professor of foreign language and ESL education at the University of Iowa. His primary research interest is how second language students learn to read in cross-orthographic reading situations. His scholarship has appeared in a number of journals and book collections, with his most recently co-edited publications being Teaching Chinese as a foreign language: Theories and applications (with Yun Xiao) and Research among learners of Chinese as a foreign language (with Helen H. Shen). Professor Everson has served on a number of boards to promote less commonly taught language education initiatives, and is a former president of the National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages.