The Complex Effects of Picturebooks on English as a Foreign Language Reading

Shiyi Shen, Ting Huang


While effects of picturebooks on reading were examined in higher grades (e.g., high school students) (Ajayi, 2009), little is known about the emerging English as Foreign Language (EFL) Kindergartens to 4th graders (i.e., K-4) students in China. Language institutes are critical phenomena for EFL K-4 education in China (Shi, 2019). Aiming to test the hypothesis that picturebooks have positive effects for reading, this study adopted within-subjects and between-subjects design to examine the effects of picturebooks on EFL reading comprehension of K-4 students in a language institute in China. Thirty-two participants were assigned into two groups to complete multiple choice and ordering tasks. The results showed that students reading with picturebooks outperformed in the two tasks than those who did not, especially on answering literal questions. With pedagogical implication as a goal, we suggest that EFL teachers need to (1) provide scaffoldings in class such as activating students’ prior knowledge, (2) make connections to students’ experience in the reading process. (3) select picturebooks considering the complex relationship between pictures and texts.


Picturebooks; Reading Comprehension; EFL Learners; China

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