The purpose of this study was to investigate what effect reading in a second language has on the knowledge and language performance of young adult missionaries studying to learn a foreign language. It was hypothesized that reading would improve vocabulary acquisition and reading comprehension, and it was further hypothesized that reading aloud would improve language speaking performance. The subjects of the study were 214 missionaries learning Spanish as a second language at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. The missionaries were all beginner level students of Spanish, and they were randomly assigned to reading aloud and silent reading groups, as well as groups which received reading strategy training and groups that received no training. Missionaries were also assigned to a control group. The treatment groups were each part of a 2 by 2 factorial design. All treatment groups read a scriptural text for thirty minutes each day for five weeks. One group read the text aloud each day while another group read silently. The third and fourth groups read aloud and silently, respectively, but they also received metacognitive reading strategy training on their first day, followed by weekly surveys which asked the learners which reading strategies they were using. The learners were tested for vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension, as well as grammar knowledge and performance in completing language tasks. The factorial design was used to test for the effects of the combined treatments and for any interaction. The treatment groups were also pooled to test for the effect of reading versus not reading. The study found that reading had a significant effect on vocabulary learning, when compared with the control group. No significant differences were found in reading comprehension, grammar, or speaking performance, however. Reading aloud had no significant effect on language knowledge or performance, when compared to reading silently. Reading strategy training had no effect on language outcomes.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Instructional Psychology and Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





reading, second language acquisition, learning strategies, vocabulary