Chinese Studies
2013. Vol.2, No.4, 193-196
Published Online November 2013 in SciRes (
Open Access 193
Exploring the Useful Reading Strategies among EFL College
Students in Taiwan*
Kung Shan-Shan
Department of En gl i s h S t u d ie s , MingDao University, Changhua, Taiwan, China
Received August 22nd, 2013; re vise d Sep tember 23rd, 2013; accepted Oct obe r 2nd, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Kung Shan-Shan. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons At-
tribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited.
The major purpose of this study was to understand what the reading strategies the EFL students use more
or less among EFL college students in Taiwan. The study focused on three hundred and ninety-eight EFL
college students coming from seven colleges located in the north, central, and south Taiwan. The research
instrument was a questionnaire modified from Wan-Yin Lin’s Chinese reading strategies questionnaire
(2005). The collected data used the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 13.0 to
analyze the results. The findings of study included the following: first, higher grade students had more
variety in using reading strategies than lower grade students; and second, the higher grade students tended
to use integrated strategies more than lower grade students. According to the research findings, the re-
searcher provided some recommendations, such as teachers could be better guiders to help students un-
derstand the importance of reading in language learning. They can not just focus on teaching listening and
speaking, and should enhance the balance development in integrated reading strategies that helped stu-
dents could read fluently any English materials.
Keywords: Reading Strategies; EFL Students; Integrated Strategies
From junior high to senior high, students usually learn the
four English skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing
step-by-step. Recently, the situation has changed. More and
more teachers would like to focus on the teaching of speaking
and listening in English to match the globalized world trend
and the needs of business. However, Pauston and Bruder (1976)
reported that when people learned the four skills of speaking,
listening, reading, and writing in a second language, reading
was usually the skill that English as Foreign Language (EFL)
students really wanted to learn and acquire. Therefore, the
study focused on exploring the use of reading strategies among
EFL college students in Taiwan and examined which reading
strategies students usually used or did not use for understanding
the English materials. All the information gathered from this
study helped teachers of EFL students understand the instruc-
tional implications found within literacy development. The
following questions guided this study:
1) Did Taiwanese EFL college students use reading strategies
to help them read? If so, what reading strategies did they use
more for helping them understand contents?
2) What reading strategies did they use less than others, or
never use during the reading process?
There were four reasons to show that this study was signifi-
cant. First, the research could help students be aware of what
their reading behaviors were and of what reading strategies they
used most or least when they read English materials. Students
could try to think about whether they could have made some
changes to their reading behaviors or could have enhanced the
use of reading strategies. Second, the results of the study pro-
vided information to students about the strategies that other
students used when they read English materials. Through the
transference of information, the students could learn about good
reading strategies they could use to help them to get the main
points from the reading texts. Third, the study provided some
information to the teachers to help them understand their stu-
dents’ reading behaviors and the reading strategies they used.
When teachers understood students’ reading processes, they
could try to adjust their teaching skills to help students to read
According to students’ reading situations, teachers could ar-
range the appropriate teaching materials for students. Finally,
the study could be used as a reference for further research to
help future researchers know what recent students’ reading
situations were and let them focus on the students’ weaknesses
to provide more useful suggestions and teaching strategies for
helping those students who had reading difficulties in English.
Through this study, the researcher expected that the EFL stu-
dents, teachers, and further researchers could get some useful
information to understand what the reading process for Tai-
wan’s EFL college students should include and to provide some
good suggestions for further studies in the field of reading.
Literature Review
Some researchers as Nuttall (1982) and Casanave (1988)
pointed out that reading was a process with which readers ac-
tively used some strategies to work with the meaning of the
*Short paper.
texts and then made sense from them. By the interesting inter-
actions from the readers and texts, more and more researchers
keep working with studies about the relationship between read-
ing comprehension and the use of reading strategies.
However, when talking about strategy and skill, it was ap-
parent that they were different. Strategy meant people used
planned methods and actions to achieve their goals, but skill
was a routine and reflex behavior. Because strategy was a con-
scious, specific, and integral planning, readers could use it to
handle different reading materials (Dole et al., 1991). Besides,
strategy was the result of consciously working toward goals. It
helped readers to understand the meaning of contents to find
out answers or attain a certain performance level in reading that
they want for themselves (Gagné, 1985).Pearson and Fielding
(1991) summarized what happened during their version of stra-
tegic reading:
“Students understand and remember ideas better when
they have to transform those ideas from one form to an-
other. Apparently it is in this transformation process that
the author’s ideas become [the] reader’s ideas, rendering
them more memorable. Examined from the teacher’s per-
spective, what this means is that teachers have many op-
tions to choose from when they try to engage students
more actively in their own comprehension: summarizing,
monitoring, engaging visual representation, and requiring
students to ask their own questions all seem to generate
learning” (p. 847).
Besides, Perkins (1992) also had a statement to suggest
teachers had to tell students the important ideas on both benefits
of requiring and using cognitive strategies:
“Complex cognition has more intrinsic interest and prom-
ises more payoff outside of school and later in life. But
consider the cost to learners: complex cognition demands
much more effort. It creates greater risk of failure. It in-
troduces the discomforts of disorientation, as learners
struggle to get their heads around difficult ideas. Peer
status for complex cognition is certainly mixed; who
wants to be known as a ‘brain’? And very commonly, so
far as grades and teacher approval go, complex cognition
buys no more than the simpler path of getting facts
straight and the algorithms right. No wonder, then, that
students perfectly reasonably do not automatically gravi-
tate toward complex cognition” (pp. 59-60).
Oxford (1992-1993) stated that students would like to use
their preferred strategies which reflected their learning styles.
For example, students in an analyzing learning style would like
to prefer a strategy such as rule-learning, while students with
global learning style would prefer to use strategies to find out
their picture (i.e., scanning, predicting) and help them to under-
stand the contents without knowing all the words (i.e., gestur-
ing). When mentioning reading strategy, different researchers
used different aspects to discuss it. Based on the other related
researches, the types of reading strategies could be classified by
their reading processes, characters, and functions. In some
reading teaching researches (Gagné, 1985; Vacca, 1981; Vacca
& Vacca, 1986), they divided the use of reading strategies into
three processes of before reading, during reading, and after
reading. Before reading, readers might use cues from the title of
article, or predict the contents to establish the interest to read
the articles. During reading, readers might choose the main
points to read or understand the relationship between sentences
to help them understand the contents. After reading, readers
might review the main points or summarize for the contents to
know if they understand what they read.
Some researchers (Bock, 1993; Keene & Zimmermann, 1997;
El-Koumy, 2004) mentioned that reading strategies can be di-
vided into cognitive and metacognitive styles. Cognitive strat-
egy meant readers had interaction with contents by using
strategies to help them understand the contents. Cognitive
strategies included visualizing, predicting, scanning, summa-
rizing, analyzing, making connection, underlining, and using
mnemonics, etc. El-Koumy (2004) stated that, “Metacognitive
strategy-often referred to as self-regulation strategies-refers to
the reader’s knowledge about the executive processes he or she
employs before, during, and after reading” (p. 16). They men-
tioned there were three main strategies in this area: planning,
self-monitoring, and self-assessment. Dutta (as cited in El-
Koumy, 2004) described that planning was used by readers to
make a comprehensive plan to understand the contents. Glazer
(as cited in El-Koumy, 2004) indicated that, “self monitoring-or
comprehension monitoring as it is often called-refers to the
readers’ regulation of his or her own comprehension during
reading” (p. 19). Schunk (1997) mentioned that metacognitive
strategy helped students check and adjust their reading strate-
gies for failure comprehension. Shoemaker (as cited in El-
Koumy, 2004) described self-assessment helped readers to
monitor and adjust their strategic thinking in literacy learning.
According to the reading styles that Carrell (1989) mentioned,
he divided reading strategies into repair, effective, and confi-
dent strategies. Repair strategy helped readers to understand the
contents when they did not have strong language ability, such
as using the context or the meaning of the sentence to solve
their vocabulary problem when they faced a new word during
their reading process. Effective strategy meant readers used
some strategies to help them read effectively during their read-
ing process, such as asking someone, taking notes, highlighting,
and summarizing, etc. Confident strategy helped readers to
decrease their fearfulness or increase their interest to read, in-
cluding reviewing the article, predicting the contents, and over-
view the table of contents. These strategies could help readers
to get new information and combine their own knowledge to
promote the understanding and memorizing of contents. There-
fore, the use of effective strategies could help readers think and
assist them to know how and when to solve their reading prob-
lems by their own knowledge (Pressley et al., 1989).
Carter & McGinnis (1967) described that the purpose of
reading is to gain the enjoyment and information from written
language. Reading is a developmental process in both of think-
ing and learning. It is an important way to communicate with
others and can be developed throughout life. Learning to read is
influenced by the individual’s level of physical and psycho-
logical development and is influenced by one’s surrounding.
Reading needed more than the accumulation from different
skills. It is a manifestation of the whole personality of the
reader and his behavior. Reading was a meaningful activity to
find out, and explain the ideas from the writers. Therefore, this
meant that reading was a complex language skill that could not
be focused on a certain way in order to develop it.
When people read a text, they usually attempted to under-
stand the meaning of what they read by using the visual clues of
spelling, experience or background knowledge. Reading was an
active process, so readers must use their various abilities that
Open Access
they have already acquired to interact with the authors’ texts
and then got main ideas or knowledge from them. These abili-
ties were usually varied. Wardhaugh (1969) figured out that
readers were usually able to react to the significant visual hints,
not the nonsignificant visual ones. This meant that readers
needed to use their short or long-term memories effectively
during the reading process. Reading was a different kind of
linguistic performance than listening as listening was different
than speaking. Reading materials were usually more difficult
than, for example, a spoken presentation; written language was
more complex, cautious, less redundant and edited than spoken
language. Therefore, the teaching of reading must be focused
on the total language program that reading played as an impor-
tant part. The program must emphasize how language was used
rather than how it should be used. Language in its all different
forms was useful for study and could provide various mean-
ingful experiences to students in all ages, so matching the total
language learning with the students’ learning abilities could
help students to develop reading ability more easily (Ward-
haugh, 1969).
Methods and Procedures
The study used one questionnaire to explore the use of read-
ing strategies among EFL college students in Taiwan. The
questionnaire was based on a sample of the Chinese reading
strategy questionnaire from Wan-Yin Lin (2005). After modi-
fying and translating to English, it was used as the format for
the study. When students completed the questionnaire in Tai-
wan, they used the modified Chinese version which was trans-
lated from the English edition.
Selection of the Participants
The participants were selected from seven colleges located in
north, central and south of Taiwan. A total of five hundred and
nine students were from Taipei City, Taipei County, Hsinchu
City, Taichung County, Tainan City, and Kaohsiung City, par-
ticipated in this research study. They volunteered to fill out the
questionnaire. The five hundred and nine students were chosen
from academic standings in the colleges. These students were
not English majors but they were still required to take some
English courses.
Response Rate
The EFL students (N = 509) were selected from seven col-
leges which were located in north, central, and south Taiwan.
However, 111 students did not complete all the questions or
provided unclear answers or left some of blanks. Therefore, 398
questionnaires were completed and returned. 398 question-
naires were analyzed for the purpose of this study. The actual
response rate was 78.19%.
The following findings were discovered through descriptive
statistical procedures to find out the correlations between the
mean scores for the results from the answers for each research
question. The following findings emerged:
1) In the first reading situation “when I read English mate-
rial”, strategy 2 “I focus on the first sentence of each paragraph
for helping me understand the main points of the whole para-
graph”, strategy 5 “I write Chinese annotation on the margin for
vocabulary words I don’t understand during reading”, and
strategy 7 “I predict the contents’ main points through the arti-
cles” were most used by the most freshmen, sophomore, junior,
and senior students. As for strategy 4 “I write down the key
points on the paper or the margin of each paragraph” and strat-
egy 6 “I read the first and last paragraphs, and then go back to
reread the paragraphs” were the strategies most students used
2) In the second reading situation “during reading process”,
the strategy 9 “I use life experiences helping me understand the
meanings of texts”, strategy 12 “I use key words or sentences to
guess the main idea of the articles”, and strategy 13 “I guess the
main idea of articles through illustrations” were the most popu-
lar strategies which most participants would use to help them
comprehend the reading contents. Strategy 11 “I use the back-
ground knowledge of the English culture to understand the
contents” and strategy 16 “I discuss what I read with class-
mates” were the strategies that most participants used least.
3) In the third reading situation “When I do not understand a
vocabulary”, most participants would like to use strategy 19 “I
use other words in the sentence to infer the meaning of vocabu-
lary” to solve their vocabulary problems during reading process.
As for strategy 20 “I use its pronunciation to perceive its mean-
ing” and strategy 21 “I analyze its suffix and prefix to get its
meaning” were the two strategies that most participants did not
4) In the reading situation of “when I do not understand a
sentence”, most participants liked to use strategy 22 “I use the
context (topic, subject) to derive the meaning of each sentence”
to help them understand the meaning of a sentence. Strategy 24
“I take grammar analysis (ex: finding subject and verb etc.) to
understand the meaning of sentences” and strategy 25 “I ana-
lyze the structure of sentences (ex: sample sentence, adjective
clause, or adverb clause etc.) to derive at the meaning of sen-
tence” were least used by the most participants to solve their
sentence problems during their reading process.
5) In the reading situation of “when I don’t understand (in-
cluding vocabulary and sentences), except above reading strate-
gies”, the strategy 30 “I decrease my reading speed” and strat-
egy 31 “I read the difficult parts several times” were the more
popular strategies used by the participants. As for the strategy
34 “I will memorize the vocabulary pertaining to the contents
before reading”, most participants used it less to help them
understand the contents.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the use of read-
ing strategies among EFL college students in Taiwan. Through
the research findings, the study found that most students, in-
cluding those with fewer learning experiences, would choose
appropriate reading strategies to help them read fluently and
effectively when they met the reading problems during their
reading process.
The study has presented a lot of information about the use of
reading strategies among EFL college students in Taiwan. Al-
though the study was limited by three hundred and ninety-eight
students coming from seven colleges located in the parts of
north, central, and south Taiwan, the findings may be used to
predict the possible Taiwanese EFL students’ viewpoints of
Open Access 195
Open Access
learning in reading. The results of this study may become a
valuable reference for further research in teaching reading; for
this reason, several recommendations made from the finding
and conclusion were listed below.
1) Teachers should teach integrated strategies to the students,
not just focus on teaching cognitive or metacognitive strategies.
The strategies such as compensation, memory, social, and af-
fective strategies should be taught to help students understand
the whole shape of strategies (Oxford, 1992/1993).
2) Because some strategies that were less often or never heard
about by the students were used, teachers should have a respon-
sibility to teach those useful strategies to students to help them
understand what they read and enjoy in the reading process.
3) Future studies can investigate if teaching particular read-
ing strategies results in better reading scores on standardized
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