Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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What Lies Beneath the Stated Meanings: a Transactional View of Language Learners Making Meaning with Texts

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posted on 2023-09-21, 03:25 authored by Marianne

This thesis reports on a year long case study conducted into the processes and products of English Second Language (ESL) learners reading fiction texts for pleasure in a high school extensive reading program. Although 'extensive reading' is usually associated with interactive language learning perspectives such as 'Second Language Acquisition' (for one view within this perspective see Krashen [1982]), a different theoretical perspective was applied in the present study. Louise Rosenblatt's transactional theory of reader response is used to analyse and discuss data made about teenagers reading for pleasure in an extensive reading program. At the heart of Rosenblatt's transactional theory is the assumption that every reading event is unique to the person, text and context of that reading experience. To understand what it means to make meaning with a text, each of those things must be considered. Thus in order to better understand ESL learners' processes and products of reading for pleasure, this thesis provides a fine grained, deep description of how one reader made meaning with texts. This description is contextualised and enriched through the inclusion of case study data from other ESL and native English speaker participants. By focusing on one reader, the complexity of the interrelationships of reader, text and context are amply demonstrated. This, it will be argued, provides a valuable lens through which teachers and researchers may view other readers, other texts and other contexts. Conclusions drawn from this study will claim that Rosenblatt's transactional theory not only readily facilitates language learning goals (for example, extensive use of the target language) but importantly provides another perspective, apart from the predominant interactive language learning perspectives, on what it might mean for readers to make meaning with texts read for pleasure. Understanding the processes and products of reading for pleasure from a transactional view has pedagogical import for the utilization of extensive reading programs, and perhaps most importantly, for the intellectual development of second language learners.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Applied Linguistics

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies


Vine, Elaine