Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Alexandra Gottardo

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The underlying components of reading comprehension were examined and compared in adolescents who spoke English as their first (L1) or second (L2) language. One-hundred and nine adolescents (55 L1 and 54 L2) completed measures of reading comprehension, decoding, vocabulary knowledge, working memory, comprehension strategy use, motivation and print exposure in English. Overall English L1 students outperformed English L2 students on measure of reading and language, with English L2 students performing below grade level on measures of comprehension and vocabulary knowledge. Examining models of reading comprehension between groups revealed that vocabulary knowledge is the best predictor of reading comprehension for both groups. In addition, decoding and working memory were significantly related to reading comprehension for English L2 students, while working memory and comprehension strategies were significantly related to reading comprehension for English L1 students. Furthermore, vocabulary knowledge mediated the relationship between motivation and print exposure with reading comprehension for English L1 students. For English L2 students, the relation between motivation and comprehension was mediated by comprehension strategies. For both groups comprehension strategies mediated the influence of decoding on comprehension. The applicability of using L1 models of reading with L2 populations, similarities and differences in the reading comprehension models, and implications for education instruction, are discussed.

Convocation Year