Electronic literacy, reading skills and non-native speakers: issues for EAP
Jarvis, HA and Pastuszka, L 2008, 'Electronic literacy, reading skills and non-native speakers: issues for EAP' , CALL-EJ, 10 (1) .
Competent reading skills in an electronic environment are vital elements to successful academic study at many Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). For non-native speakers of English (NNS) this necessitates not only a command of the English language, but also, amongst other things, electronic literacy (EL) reading skills. Such skills involve a knowledge of what to do: how to find information, how to evaluate it and, if relevant, how to make use of it in English in academic settings and beyond. This paper reports on a study which investigates EL reading skills amongst NNS studying a range of academic subjects and levels in English at two British HEIs. Students were asked to classify their computer skills (a term which for the purposes of this study we use interchangeably with EL reading skills) and to complete a questionnaire - a small sample of students were then randomly selected and asked to complete a series of short tasks which they were observed doing and then interviewed about. We divide this sample into two groups those with high level computer skills (HLCS) and those with low level computer skills (LLCS). Our findings point to a number of significant differences between these groups. The paper considers these findings in relation to issues for English for Academic Purposes (EAP) programmes whose primary remit is to equip NNS with the language and study skills necessary for successful academic study. It is suggested that such programmes might develop EL reading skills amongst students with differing computer skills within a Computing for Academic Purposes (CAP) component, which takes task-based pedagogy as its central tenet.
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