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The effects of topic familiarity and language difficulty on situation-model construction by readers of Chinese as a foreign language
Based on the constructionist theory, reading is viewed as a meaning-constructing process where the reader interacts with the text by simultaneously using information from a variety of sources to construct a multi-level representation of the text. These sources include the text, one's background knowledge of the content and about the world, and the pragmatic context of the message such as the author, reader, setting, and the purpose of the exchange. The resulting representations have become known as situation models. ^ To construct a coherent situation model, the reader needs to develop a strong textbase, as well as to integrate the information he/she reads with information stored in his/her memory while monitoring the comprehension process closely so as to achieve comprehension. ^ This study is designed to investigate how readers of Chinese as a foreign language (CFL) construct situation models under four conditions: topic familiar/language easy, topic familiar/language difficult, topic unfamiliar/language easy, topic unfamiliar/language difficult. Forty CFL readers at the third-year level served as the subjects of this study. They were randomly assigned to read in one of the conditions. They read one passage in Chinese, stopped periodically during reading to report their thoughts, and afterwards wrote down everything they remembered without referring back to the passage. The reading sessions were tape recorded, transcribed, and coded for analysis. Recall protocols were also scored as measurements of their reading performance. ^ Results showed that while the on-line reading activities were mostly restricted to local level processing, a characteristic predicted by the linguistic threshold theory, the recall protocols showed a facilitative effect of topic familiarity, corroborating with earlier findings from both first (L1) and second (L2) language reading research studies adopting the schema theory. ^ Based on the findings, future research is identified and teaching implications are also recommended. ^
Education, Language and Literature|Education, Reading|Language, General
"The effects of topic familiarity and language difficulty on situation-model construction by readers of Chinese as a foreign language"
(January 1, 2004).
Electronic Doctoral Dissertations for UMass Amherst.