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Volume 18 Number 4, Winter 2021, Pages 1071-1525   

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Distinct L2 Reading-Related Subgroups of Korean EFL First-year High School Learners: Latent Profile Analysis

    Hyunsoon Kim & Byungmin Lee

This study identified the latent profiles of L2 reading skills that characterize EFL first-year high school learners in Korea to examine the nature of the L2 reading ability development in the Simple View of Reading (SVR) framework. Participants included 254 Korean-speaking high school students in mid- or low-income urban areas of Seoul and Gyeonggi Province. Decoding, linguistic comprehension, and reading comprehension skills were assessed by six measures in total at the beginning of the school year. Latent profile analysis (LPA) on the six reading-related measures identified three L2 reading skill profiles deviating by almost one SD each on every measure. The three groups showed distinctively stratified L2 reading abilities with close associations among the variables, providing support for the SVR model in EFL populations. Decoding measured by orthographic processing was the least distinguishing skill to infer group membership. The heterogeneity found among the same graded EFL learners is discussed in line with the frustration prevalent among underachieving English learners in Korean schools. Implications for instructions and future research are suggested.

Keywords: EFL, L2 reading, academic gap, simple view of reading, latent profile analysis