The effects of cultural background on reading comprehension of ESL learners
AuthorKhalil, Adnan M.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis study investigates the effects of cultural background on reading comprehension of ESL learners. Theoretically, this study emanates from schema theory. That is, the readers' comprehension is believed to be affected by background knowledge. Forty-eight ESL students, sorted into three groups (beginning, intermediate and advanced), were randomly assigned to the treatment, which was the reading of a familiar and unfamiliar, high difficulty and/or low difficulty passages. Procedures included a survey, a pre-test, passages and a post-test. The survey was used to select the two topics for the passages. The pre-test consisted of questions based on both passages. The passages were one familiar and one unfamiliar, and each type was written on two difficulty levels. The post-test was the same test given to the students as a pre-test. The dependent variable was the 20-item multiple choice test based on two passages, "The Weekend" and "Groundhog Day". Two question types were included: (1) literal, and (2) inferential. The data were analyzed using several analyses of variance, t-tests and, for post hoc testing of significance, the Scheffe was utilized. Results indicate that the reading level has an effect on the ESL students' comprehension when reading a culturally different passage. However, passage type (familiar-unfamiliar) and passage difficulty (high difficulty-low difficulty) did not have effects on ESL readers' comprehension.
Degree ProgramLanguage, Reading & Culture