Self-efficacy, word reading, and vocabulary knowledge in English language learners

Tricia Florence Mase, Fordham University


English language learners (ELLs) are dramatically behind in the number of English vocabulary words they have acquired when they enter kindergarten. Research that has been conducted on early reading skills and vocabulary knowledge in ELLs focuses almost exclusively on instruction despite the fact that student characteristics such as self-efficacy play a significant role in academic outcomes. The aim of this study was to explore how self-efficacy and accuracy of self-efficacy of vocabulary knowledge in a second language mediated the relationship of word reading in a second language and vocabulary knowledge in a native language to vocabulary knowledge in a second language. Participants consisted of 80 second-grade native Spanish speaking ELLs from public schools in low socioeconomic urban neighborhoods. Standardized tests and self-efficacy and accuracy of self-efficacy measures were administered to each participant. The results suggested that the participants demonstrated a moderate to high level of self-efficacy as well as accuracy of self-efficacy. The results also showed significant relationships between English word reading and English vocabulary knowledge and between self-efficacy and the accuracy of self-efficacy. Path analyses demonstrated an adequate model fit. Results also showed partial mediating effects of self-efficacy and accuracy of self-efficacy, which suggests that self-efficacy and accuracy in the judgment of one's ability may not have such a vital function in learning English vocabulary knowledge during the early elementary school years for ELLs. These findings endorse the skill development view of academic self-concept development where, at this young age, self-efficacy forms in response to the mastery of skills and possessing the abilities may be more important than the influence of psychological and cognitive factors on those same abilities.

Subject Area

English as a Second Language|Educational psychology|Reading instruction

Recommended Citation

Mase, Tricia Florence, "Self-efficacy, word reading, and vocabulary knowledge in English language learners" (2011). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3461888.