The Korean Association for the Study of English Language and Linguistics
[ Article ]
Korea Journal of English Language and Linguistics - Vol. 21, No. 0, pp.211-225
ISSN: 1598-1398 (Print) 2586-7474 (Online)
Print publication date 31 Jan 2021
Received 15 Feb 2021 Revised 15 Mar 2021 Accepted 25 Mar 2021

The Role of English Proficiency in the Interactions of Phonological Awareness and Reading/Listening Comprehension

Huan Sun ; Borim Lee
(1st author) Graduate Student, Dept. of English Language and Literature, Wonkwang Univ, Tel: 063-850-6153
(corresponding author) Professor, Dept. of English Language and Literature, Wonkwang Univ, Tel: 063-850-6875

© 2021 KASELL All rights reserved
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The goal of this study was to investigate the role of English proficiency in the interactions of Chinese college EFL students’ phonological awareness (PA) skills and their English reading and listening comprehension abilities. Seventy-four college students were divided into two proficiency groups based on their English test scores for the Chinese college entrance examination. Since it is known that PA often works via word decoding and that vocabulary size is also an important factor in language comprehension, a total of five types of tasks were administered: PA, word decoding, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and listening comprehension. The results first showed that, as was expected, the high proficiency group (HP) performed significantly better than the low proficiency group (LP) in all five tasks. Then Pearson correlation analyses showed that PA had a significant correlation with reading and listening comprehension abilities in LP, but not in HP. The subsequent regression analyses conducted for LP revealed that, PA made an indirect contribution to reading comprehension through word decoding and uniquely contributed to listening comprehension. PA, which was measured in three divided sub-variables (phoneme, onset-rime, and syllable), was significantly related to word decoding in both groups, but word decoding was more closely connected to phonemic awareness in HP while it was to onset-rime awareness in LP. These results suggest that learners with different English proficiency levels are in the different developmental stages of PA skills, and that these skills are especially essential for the low proficiency learners in improving their reading and listening abilities. The results of this study, therefore, offer some pedagogical implications in the English classrooms with less-skilled adult learners.


phonological awareness, English proficiency, word decoding, vocabulary, reading and listening comprehension, Chinese college EFL learners


This research was supported by Wonkwang University in 2020.


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