Effects of training in rapid decoding on the reading comprehension of adult ESL learners

Annette Tan, Dennis W. Moore, Robyn S. Dixon, Tom Nicholson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


We report an experimental investigation of the effects on comprehension of increasing the decoding speed of three adult learners of English as a Second Language (ESL). Participants were taught to read lists of 25 difficult words in isolation until they could read the entire list at a mean rate of not more than 1.5 secs per word. They were then asked to read passages containing these words. Decoding speed and accuracy measures, for both the word lists and passages, and passage comprehension measures, were obtained. In a temporally contiguous within-subjects repeated trials reversal design, decoding training on isolated words was shown to be associated with significant increases in decoding speed and accuracy both in isolation and context, and improvements in the participants' comprehension. With all participants rate and accuracy gains in context were maintained in the final reversal phase, though the comprehension score gains did not. These results are discussed in terms of their implications for a decoding sufficiency hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-189
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Behavioral Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • decoding sufficienc
  • ESL
  • reading comprehension

Cite this