About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 6023-6031
Publication year: 2012
ISBN: 978-84-616-0763-1
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 19-21 November, 2012
Location: Madrid, Spain

APPLICABILITY OF READABILITY FORMULAE TO THE MEASUREMENT OF SENTENCE-LEVEL READABILITY

K. Kotani1, T. Yoshimi2, H. Nanjo2, H. Isahara3

1Kansai Gaidai University (JAPAN)
2Ryukoku University (JAPAN)
3Toyohashi University of Technology (JAPAN)
Readability formulae have been widely used for measuring the readability of a text (T-R), but not for measuring the readability of a single sentence (S-R). The measurement of T-R helps collect reading materials and test materials that suit the proficiency of the learners of English as a foreign language (EFL), and thus the readability formulae are considered as a useful method in EFL teaching and test development. However, sentences in a text could be at the different readability levels, and the validity of these readability formulae is unclear for measuring the S-R. In EFL teaching, a teacher has to identify the S-R in order to find sentences that might be easy or difficult for the EFL learners. In test development, a teacher or a test developer has to prevent the S-R of single-sentence test materials from adversely affecting the test results. To accomplish these goals, it is necessary to assess the validity of the readability formulae for measuring the S-R. The purpose of this paper is to report how well the S-R measured with the previously proposed readability formulae correlate with the S-R judged by 90 EFL learners on 80 sentences.
First, the previously proposed readability formulae, which used the surface linguistic variables such as the length of a sentence and a word, that is, Flesch Reading Ease score (FRES) (Flesch 1946) and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (FKGL) (Flesch 1949), were examined with respect to the correlation between the S-R measured with these readability formulae and the S-R judged by the EFL learners. Spearman rank correlation analyses showed that the S-R judged by the EFL learners were weakly correlated both with the S-R measured with FRES (r=-0.49, p<0.01) and with the S-R measured with FKGL (r=0.62, p<0.01). The weak correlation suggests that the readability formulae using surface linguistic variables need further improvements for measuring the S-R for EFL learners.
Then, the other readability formula was constructed using surface and deep linguistic variables proposed as Coh-Metrix indices (Graesser et al. 2004). Of 60 linguistic variables, 29 linguistic variables, which are effective as linguistic variables within a sentence, were chosen. Taking the S-R judged by the 29 linguistic variables as independent variables, and the EFL learners as a dependent variable, a step-wise multiple regression analysis was carried out to derive an S-R formula. The multiple regression analysis showed strong correlation (r=0.89, p<0.01). The results also showed that 5 linguistic variables explained 79.2% of the variance (F(5,74)=55.29, p<0.01). A variable, which most significantly contributed to the explanation of the S-R judged by the EFL learners, was the number of words in a sentence (β=0.68, p<0.01). This result suggests that the surface linguistic variable primarily accounts for the S-R judged by the EFL learners. The other variables, which significantly contributed to the explanation of the S-R judged by the EFL learners, were the following deep linguistic variables: log frequency of content words in a sentence (β=-0.31, p<0.01), FKGL (β=0.20, p<0.01), the number of words before the main verb (β=-0.19, p<0.01), and the incidence of a negative additive connective (β=0.14, p<0.01). In conclusion, we found that the readability formula using both surface and deep linguistic variables are appropriate for measuring the S-R for EFL learners.
@InProceedings{KOTANI2012APP,
author = {Kotani, K. and Yoshimi, T. and Nanjo, H. and Isahara, H.},
title = {APPLICABILITY OF READABILITY FORMULAE TO THE MEASUREMENT OF SENTENCE-LEVEL READABILITY},
series = {5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2012 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-616-0763-1},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {19-21 November, 2012},
year = {2012},
pages = {6023-6031}}
TY - CONF
AU - K. Kotani AU - T. Yoshimi AU - H. Nanjo AU - H. Isahara
TI - APPLICABILITY OF READABILITY FORMULAE TO THE MEASUREMENT OF SENTENCE-LEVEL READABILITY
SN - 978-84-616-0763-1/2340-1095
PY - 2012
Y1 - 19-21 November, 2012
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2012 Proceedings
SP - 6023
EP - 6031
ER -
K. Kotani, T. Yoshimi, H. Nanjo, H. Isahara (2012) APPLICABILITY OF READABILITY FORMULAE TO THE MEASUREMENT OF SENTENCE-LEVEL READABILITY, ICERI2012 Proceedings, pp. 6023-6031.
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