Three Children, Two Languages, and Strategic Reading: Case Studies in Bilingual/Monolingual Reading

Robert T. Jiménez, Georgia Earnest García, P. David Pearson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The major goal of this article was to describe and understand the cognitive and metacognitive knowledge of a proficient bilingual reader who was Latina. This was accomplished by comparing her reading processes and strategies with those of a marginally proficient bilingual reader and a proficient monolingual reader. Data collection processes included prompted and unprompted think-alouds, interviews, text retellings, a prior knowledge measure, and a questionnaire. All student participants read one narrative and two expository texts in English, and the two bilingual students also read a comparable set of Spanish texts. Qualitative analysis revealed four key dimensions that distinguished the proficient bilingual reader’s performance from those of the other two readers: How she navigated unknown vocabulary in both languages, how she viewed the purpose of reading, how she interacted with text, and how she took advantage of her bilingualism. It was concluded that explicit knowledge of the relationship between Spanish and English can facilitate bilingual students’ reading comprehension, that unknown vocabulary was an obstacle to reading comprehension for the two bilingual readers, that reading expertise and bilingualism visibly affected the reading comprehension of the bilingual students, and that the cultural and linguistic familiarity of the reading passages created a qualitatively different experience of or the proficient monolingual reader.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-97
JournalAmerican Educational Research Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 1995


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