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Title:The Effects of The Language Complexity and The Culturally Determined Background of The Text on The Reading Comprehension of Iranian Students in Esl
Author(s):Johnson, Patricia Ann
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Language and Literature
Abstract:Previous research has indicated that the linguistic structure and culturally determined background of prose may influence the readers' comprehension of a text written in a foreign language and set in a foreign culture. The present study sought to investigate the extent of these effects of language complexity and cultural origin of a story on the reading comprehension of foreign language learners. Subjects were 46 Iranian intermediate/advanced ESL students at the university level. Reading comprehension was tested by asking subjects to recall reading passages and to answer multiple choice questions on explicit and implicit information in the text. The reading passages were two stories, one from Iranian folklore and one from American folklore. One text of each story was written in unadapted English and the other text was adapted. The stories and the recall questions were also given to 19 American subjects whose performance was compared with that of the Iranian subjects.
Data were analyzed in a one-between/one-within factorial multivariate analysis of variance design. The independent variables were the physical/social context of the story and the language complexity of the passage, constituting the within-subjects factor (repeated measurement) and the between/subjects factor, respectively. Multivariate analysis of variance indicated that the level of syntactic and semantic complexity, adapted vs. unadapted, of the two stories in this research test had a lesser effect, compared to the cultural origin of the story, on the comprehension of the foreign language learners, the Iranian subjects. They understood better the story of native cultural origin but there was no difference between their comprehension of adapted and unadapted texts. In contrast, the level of syntactic and semantic complexity of the text and the cultural origin of the story both had effects on the comprehension of the American subjects who seemed to understand better the unadapted texts and the story of native cultural origin.
The finding that knowledge of the foreign culture as well as of the foreign language may aid or hinder reading comprehension has implications for the selection of reading materials in the foreign language as well as the evaluation of the reading comprehension of foreign language learners.
Issue Date:1980
Description:345 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1980.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8026532
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-12
Date Deposited:1980

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