Beyond the Simple View of Reading: The Role of Executive Functions in Emergent Bilinguals’ and English Monolinguals’ Reading Comprehension

Barber, A.T., Cartwright, K.B., Hancock, G.R., and Klauda, S.L. (2021). Beyond the Simple View of Reading: The Role of Executive Functions in Emergent Bilinguals’ and English Monolinguals’ Reading Comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 56(S1), S45– S64. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.385

The simple view of reading describes reading as the product of decoding (D) and listening comprehension (LC). However, the simple view of reading has been challenged, and evidence has proved it to be too simple to explain the complexities of reading comprehension in the elementary school years. Hypotheses have been advanced that there are cognitive-linguistic factors that underlie the common variance between D and LC, which are malleable, although there is no clarity at this point regarding what these are. We propose that one such group of malleable cognitive factors is executive function (EF) skills. Further, we posit that EF skills play equally strong roles in explaining reading comprehension variance in emergent bilinguals and English monolinguals. In this study, results show that the indirect effect of cognitive flexibility through LC on reading comprehension was considerably larger for emergent bilinguals than for English monolinguals. Considerations for a more nuanced view of the simple view of reading and its implications for practice are discussed.

"If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book." —

J.K. Rowling