Direct Phonemic Awareness Instruction as a Means of Improving Academic Text Comprehension for Adult Language Learners


  • M. Gregory Tweedie
  • Robert C. Johnson
  • D. William Kay
  • Jody Shimoda



At an international branch campus of a Canadian university located in Qatar, difficulty comprehending academic English text has been an institutionally acknowledged barrier to student success. A team of teacher-researchers in the English for Academic Purposes program conducted a quasi-experimental investigation into the efficacy of phonemic awareness instruction as a means of addressing this competency gap. This project was conducted in an attempt to achieve better alignment between teaching strategies, classroom activities, and student learning outcomes. Sixty-seven students, enrolled in three program level s, were given one hour per week of standardised direct phonemic awareness instruction over a 10-week period. Two tests were used to measure pre-/post-instruction differences: a missing vowel identification test and a C-test. Learners in the treatment group improved significantly more in both measures than those in the control group. The results suggest that direct phonemic awareness instruction can promote the development of both vowel recognition and ability to comprehend academic English text among tertiary-level EAP learners in a predominantly native Arabic language environment.