Instructional Effects of Syntactic Parsing on Chinese College Students’ EFL Reading Rates

Xiaokan Chen, Hongmei Li, Min Gui



Foreign language reading serves as the fundamental channel for foreign language acquisition and for information gathering. However, English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners are generally slow in their reading rates. A number of approaches have been proposed to improve reading rates of EFL learners, underpinned by learning theories. From an information processing perspective, building automaticity in lower-level processes is necessary to allow readers to allocate more cognitive resources for higher-level processes. Given the importance of reading rate and the scarcity of related research, the present study intends to explore the relationship between Chinese college students’ syntactic parsing ability and their EFL reading rates, and investigate the effects of syntactic parsing instruction on their EFL reading rates. A total of 87 freshmen from two intact classes participated in the present study. They were divided into an experimental group (43) and a control group (44). The experimental group received a 12-week instruction on syntactic parsing ability. A pretest-posttest design was employed to explore the participants’ development of syntactic parsing ability and their reading rates. After the training period, a semi-structured interview was conducted among 10 participants of the experimental to explore their attitudes towards the syntactic parsing ability instruction. Two major findings were revealed. First, there was a close relationship between syntactic parsing and reading rate. Second, syntactic parsing instruction may have positive effects on some students’ reading rates in the experimental group. Responses in the interview indicated that the participants held positive attitudes towards the syntactic parsing ability training.

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Journal of Education and Training Studies  ISSN 2324-805X (Print)   ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)

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