Component skills that underpin listening comprehension and reading comprehension in learners with English as first and additional language

Selma Babayiğit*, Laura Shapiro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: The primary aim of this study is to augment our understanding of the component skills that underpin second-language learners' text comprehension by examining the direct and indirect roles of vocabulary knowledge and grammatical skills in second-language learners' listening and reading comprehension. 

Methods: Our sample included 134 learners with English as an additional language (EAL) and 74 with English as first language (EL1) (Mage = 123.76, SD = 5.02 months). Results: Our path analyses underscored the central role of English vocabulary and grammar in EAL learners' text comprehension. Both made independent and direct contributions to EAL learners' listening and reading comprehension levels. There were also indirect relations between vocabulary and grammar, and reading comprehension through listening comprehension. Similar results were observed for the EL1 group. We also found an association between weaknesses in EAL learners' vocabulary and grammatical skills and their underperformance on listening comprehension and reading comprehension. 

Conclusions: EAL learners' oral language, listening comprehension, and reading comprehension development should be examined in tandem and beyond the primary-school years to clarify the long-term implications of the observed EAL gap at primary-school levels. Finally, our findings suggest that both vocabulary knowledge and grammatical skills need to be targeted to support children's listening and reading comprehension. This is important for both EAL and EL1 learners but particularly for the former whose English oral language skills may lag behind those of their EL1 peers. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-97
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Research in Reading
Issue number1
Early online date6 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Journal of Research in Reading on 6 Dec 2019, available online at:


  • English as a second language (ESL)
  • grammar
  • listening comprehension
  • reading comprehension
  • vocabulary


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