2016 Volume 18 Issue 1 Pages 53-66
This study demonstrates, through vocabulary and task analyses of MEXT-approved senior high school English textbooks, that the textbook passages cannot be read by students in English without scaffolding. It also proposes a way in which materials can be designed that scaffolds reading comprehension. The study opens with an investigation into a textbook series’ organization and contents. The series is then analyzed to determine the ratios of new words to words recurring from previous lessons. The analysis indicates that students face one unfamiliar word for every seven or fewer words in the textbook passages. A second analysis evaluates degrees of cognitive demands affected by the passages’ themes, contents, comprehension questions, and passage-related tasks using Anderson et al’s “Taxonomy”. This analysis reveals that the textbooks lack scaffolding, making it likely that students experience difficulty “reading” the English passages. The study aims to help resolve these difficulties by proposing an approach to materials design and evaluating its effect. Finally, it considers how students’ exposure to vocabulary and reading comprehension depth can be enhanced through the implementation of extra materials that are designed to support recognition of prior knowledge, a sense of genre, and the ability to clarify student goals and roles in reading a target text.