University of Leicester
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Schema theory and learning to read in a second language.

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posted on 2015-11-19, 09:16 authored by Amal Jamil. Yazigy
The aim of this research is to investigate the possible effects of text experiences on story retelling with young children. The subjects are 210 Lebanese children, whose native language is Arabic, learning to read in English through using foreign culture books, mainly American. It is the belief that, while learning to read in a second language, children are also introduced to a new culture. Therefore, a key question is how are we going to make this process easier and more enjoyable to children who are a) learning to read, b) in a foreign language, and c) about a distant culture. Based on previous work with schema theory, two story books are used in this study to detect any differences in comprehension levels between stories of varied cultural backgrounds. One story is based on the Spanish concept of bull-fighting which is assumed to be foreign to the children and the other is with a familiar Lebanese background. Subjects were divided into four groups: the first group worked with pictures and had a discussion prior to reading to build the target-culture schema; the second had the schema activities after reading the story; the third discussed the cultural topic both before and after reading; and the last was a control group which did not have schema activities. Results show that familiarity with a topic before reading the text promotes comprehension, retention, and retelling of a text. Proficiency in the foreign language seems to have a great effect on text understanding when information about the topic is made available. Implications are drawn and suggestions given for practical approaches to developing children's reading through tasks in Lebanese classrooms.


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University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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