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Volume 15 Number 3, Autumn 2018, Pages 566-899   


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A Comparison of Readability and Understandability in Second Language Acquisition Textbooks for Pre-service EFL Teachers

    Dennis Murphy Odo


Teachers must be able to comprehend their textbooks in order to fully benefit from their preparation programs. However, it is yet unclear whether textbooks used to teach challenging content to pre-service non-native speaking English teachers might be beyond their ability. To investigate this question, a textbook readability analysis was performed with the Coh-Metrix text analysis tool. Textbook understandability was also assessed by means of maze passages given to teacher candidates in a pre-service English teacher education program. Readability analyses results indicated that the majority of the texts are excessively challenging for L2 readers at the level of the participants. Understandability findings revealed that many texts were able to be read independently but that all texts could be understood with scaffolding. Contrary to prior understandability research findings that showed that these textbooks were too difficult, this study found them to be suitable for their audience. However, a correlation between text understandability and course grades indicates that ability to comprehend the text could relate to course performance. Implications are that EFL teacher educators must recognize the importance of readability for textbook selection criteria and provide learners with access to other supplementary materials to scaffold their learning.

Keywords: readability, second language reading, teacher education, materials evaluation