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Investigating EFL Speed Reading Contestants’ Performance and Use of Speed-Reading Strategy: A Mixed-Methods Case Study of College Freshmen

Shu-ling (Elaine) Chen
National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan


In today’s information-driven world, the ability to read quickly and effectively has become increasingly crucial for acquiring knowledge and searching for targeted information. A speed reading (SR) contest was held to highlight the importance of reading and motivate language learners by offering incentives. This study aims to investigate the correlation between reading fluency, accuracy, and the use of SR strategies among the college freshmen contestants who are learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL) at different proficiency levels. A mixed-methods study was conducted to triangulate the quantitative data on the participants’ reading accuracy with the qualitative data obtained from their perspectives. The contestants (N=67 out of 1,011) were divided into 7 groups according to their English proficiency levels. After the contest, the same participants were asked to complete a survey questionnaire, designed to elicit their perspectives on the experience and use of reading strategy. The results indicate that the participants’ performance was mostly as expected, with a mean accuracy of 66.7% (SD 17) (RE Index 73.1%, SD 20.1) at the predetermined mean speed of 112.4 wpm (SD 30.3l). However, the ESP learners exhibited a lower mean accuracy rate of 44.6% (RE Index 85.7%) at 192.1 wpm. The qualitative data shows that 78.8% of the participants had a positive attitude toward the experience, perceiving it as a source of motivation and a challenge to enhance their reading skills. Only 27.9% of the participants reported using skimming, scanning, and test-taking skills to identify key words and read what they needed, while 72.1% reported not using any strategy during the contest. The significance of this study lies in its assessment of the current reading ability of university EFL students and gaining insights into their attitudes toward SR. The limitations and suggestions for further investigations are discussed.


speed reading, reading accuracy, reading fluency, speed-reading strategies

International Joint Conference of APLX, ETRA40, and TESPA 2023