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Schema Theory and Its Implication to EFL Reading Comprehension

Posted by Chastang
TAGS: schema_theoryreading_comprehensionlinguistic_schemata
Reading is regarded as one of the major goals in EFL teaching and learning, and it is also an essential approach to acquire a foreign language. According to Carrel, reading is by far the most important of the four skills in the foreign language (Carrel, 1988:1). Teaching EFL reading has been the focus in China, however, as we all know, some students, though having learned English for years, often end in non-comprehension when asked to read a passage (Ge Wenshan:2001:4). This may be largely due to a traditional teaching method, which lays more emphasis on the language to be comprehended. In this way, some students may be less competent at reading comprehension, presumably because they have kept some bad reading habits, or have difficulties in grammar, or find it difficult to understand authors’ intention after words decoding. So, such inadequacy needs more emphasis on being in search of better approaches to guide the reading instruction.Schema theory, originated in the field of psychology in the study of mental organization for storing and retrieving the existing knowledge while dealing with the new information, has been applied in EFL learning and has great effect on reading comprehension. The significance of schema theory in the reading process was established with the development of research on the role of schema in reading. In this view, reading comprehension involves an interactive process between reader’s schematic knowledge and the text itself. It can not only help reader understand each individual word, sentence, but also, at the same time, grasp the main idea and the author’s intention. Therefore, for EFL reading, schema theory has been becoming necessary for its ability of balancing interaction in reading process.Over the past years, considerable researches have been conducted on schema theory in the field of ESL and EFL reading comprehension. In recent years, researches on correlation between schema theory and reading comprehension are the focus of much concern in China~1, and these previous researches can be marked with three characteristics. Firstly, their subjects are almost senior or junior students in middle school. Second, they lay more stress on content schemata and textual schemata, while linguistic schemata don’t attract much attention. Finally, almost all the cases show the positive effect of schema theory and few puts efforts on its negative effects.
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