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National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition

Publication Details

First Language, Reading Skills in the Language of Instruction, and First-Semester Grades in a Canadian University


Author(s): Baird, A., & Babb, K. A.

Citation: Baird, A., & Babb, K. A. (2014). First Language, Reading Skills in the Language of Instruction, and First-Semester Grades in a Canadian University. Journal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, 26(1), 63-83.

 

Abstract

This study of first-year students in a Canadian university examined linguistic diversity and assessed associations with academic performance and reading abilities in English, the language of instruction. Among 68 students, 19 spoke English as a second language (secondary anglophones). Compared with 49 primary anglophones, these students’ first-semester grades were modestly lower. More sizable discrepancies between the two student groups were noted on academic reading skills in English (vocabulary and reading comprehension). With vocabulary as a covariate, the groups no longer differed significantly on university grades. Primary and secondary anglophone groups reported similar high school grades, years of parental education, and overall use of study strategies. Cognitive, metacognitive, and socioemotional variables embedded in secondary anglophone status may attenuate adverse effects of lower reading skills in English on grades. Educators should consider ways in which early university programs can boost reading in primary and, especially, secondary anglophone students.

 

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