Investigating the contributions of background
knowledge and reading comprehension strategies
to L2 reading comprehension: an exploratory study
Published online: 9 April 2010
Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010
Abstract While a number of studies have investigated the inﬂuence of back-
ground knowledge and reading comprehension strategies on comprehension, no L2
research exists examining and comparing the unique contributions of these two
variables examined together. Therefore, the purpose of this exploratory study was to
investigate the combined and individual contributions of background knowledge and
reading comprehension strategies to reading comprehension. Data collected from 20
university-level English language learners were analyzed using regression analyses.
The results indicated that background knowledge and reading comprehension
strategies, operationalized as self-questioning, combined to account for a signiﬁcant
portion of variance in reading comprehension scores, with self-questioning being a
stronger predictor of reading comprehension than background knowledge.
Keywords Second language reading Á Reading comprehension strategies Á
Among researchers, there is little dispute that second language (L2) reading is
comprised of both bottom–up and top–down processes. Within each level of
processing, a multitude of factors operate simultaneously to construct meaning.
Research shows that L2 reading comprehension is impacted by, among other
variables, combinations of L1 reading ability and L2 language knowledge
(e.g., Bernhardt & Kamil, 1995; Lee & Schallert, 1997; Song, 1998).
L. McNeil (&)
Graduate School of TESOL, Soonhun 610, Sookmyung Women’s University, Hyochangwon-gil 52,
Yongsan-gu, Seoul 140-742, South Korea
Read Writ (2011) 24:883–902