The Effect Of Speed Reading Instruction On Japanese High School Students English Reading Comprehension And Vocabulary Development

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Paul Underwood
Gordon Myskow
Takahiko Hattori


English as Foreign Language, Japanese Secondary School Curriculum, MEXT Policy, Reading Rate, Speed Reading, Vocabulary


This study investigated the effects of a six-month course in speed reading in three areas of reading proficiency development: 1) general reading comprehension, 2) knowledge of high-frequency vocabulary, and 3) reading-rate and accuracy. The participants (N = 105) were Japanese students studying English as a foreign language in Grade 10 at a Japanese private senior high school, randomly assigned to an experimental group (n =51) which received the speed reading treatment, and a control group (n =54) which received supplementary activities focused on high-frequency vocabulary development. The findings indicated that both the experimental and control groups made significant improvements in general reading comprehension. However, there was no significant difference between the experimental group (M = 14.27, SD = 4.01) and the control group (M = 14.31, SD = 4.07); t (103) = -.051, p= .959. Both the experimental group (M = 1.29, SD = 2.52) and the control group (M = 1.35, SD = 2.49) increased their knowledge of high-frequency vocabulary. However, again there was no significant difference between the experimental group (M = 25.78, SD = 2.96) and the control group M = 25.61, SD = 2.24; t (103) = -.337, p= .737. In terms of reading-rate development, the findings indicated a significant increase (M = 47, SD = 41.99) t (50) = 8.01, p < .0005. Finally, while higher levels of general reading comprehension and high reading speeds were correlated, the relationship was small, r=.19, n = 51. The range of findings emerging from this current study adds weight to the existing research and goes beyond those conducted in the Japanese context to date. One of the important questions these findings raise relates to the greater influence that other variables, such as lexico-grammatical knowledge, might have on the development of reading comprehension at this level of language proficiency.


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