Библиографическое описание:

Jahani A. The Effects of Text Length in Terms of Redundancy on Reading Comprehension of Iranian L2 learners // Молодой ученый. — 2014. — №6. — С. 590-593.

The present study aims to find out whether or not there is a relationship between text length in terms of redundancy and reading comprehension of Iranian high school L2 learners To this end, sixty high school juniors who were nearly the same at the basis of their proficiency levels, were selected and randomly assigned to two groups: control group and experimental group. Two reading passages were used to assess their comprehension. The two passages used in the study were taken from the students' English text book. The two original passages were given to the control group and the elaborated ones to the experimental group. Both groups were asked to answer true-false and multiple-choice items that followed each passage. A t-test was used to show the significance of the difference between the means of the two groups. The results of the study indicate that the elaborated passages, with more redundant elements, can be better understood than the original ones with insufficient redundancy.

Key words: reading comprehension, text length, redundancy, schema theory.

1- Introduction

The importance of reading for second language acquisition has been widely acknowledged (Day & Bamford, 1998, 2002; Grabe, 2004). No matter what language you speak, you may read a great deal of materials each day. It is an independent and indispensable skill for learners who are motivated to learn any language. It requires that the readers focus their attention on the reading materials and integrate the previously acquired knowledge and skill to comprehend what someone else has written. According to Anderson (1984, p:1), in many parts of the world a reading knowledge of a foreign language is often important to academic studies, professional success, and personal development. This is particularly true of English as so much professional, technical and scientific literature is published in English. Reading in English is becoming more and more demanded nowadays to keep up with such increasing changes in information. Anderson (2005) considers reading as the principal skill to learn in order to guarantee doing well in learning. But reading is not just analyzing the words and sentences in the text. Rather as Widdowson (1979) puts it, reading is the process of combining textual information with the information a reader brings to a text. That is «the reading activates a range of knowledge in the reader's mind that he or she uses, and that in turn, may be refined and extended by the new information supplied by the text»(Grabe,1985,p.56).

The role of background knowledge in reading comprehension has been studied by schema theory (Bartlett, 1932; Rumelhart & Ortony, 1977; Rumelhart,1980). According to schema theory «a reading text doesn't by itself carry meaning, it only provides directions for the readers as to how they should retrieve or construct meaning from their own, previously acquired knowledge, background knowledge or schemata» (Carrell & Eisterhold in Carrell, Devine & Eskey, 1988.p.76).

In sum, reading is a complex and long lasting process in which readers and writers interact through a text. That is readers extract meaning from the text and reconstruct it by combining information from the text and their background knowledge. We conclude from the above mentioned views on reading that reading involves two necessary elements: a reader and a text. This is why researchers in the field focus their attention on these two elements. Research on ' text' includes a number of variables such as types of reading materials used for instruction, narrative text structures and reading strategies. A number of studies have recently focused on the effect of text length in terms of redundancy on reading comprehension of second language learners (Yu,2002; Wang, 2011; Maxwell, 2011; Jalilevand,2012).

Redundancy is another means by which readers and writers can connect through text. It is a complex characteristic of written language that helps ensure that the reader gets the message (Smith, 1988). Smith equates redundancy with prior knowledge. He explains that «in making use of redundancy, the reader makes use of non-visual information, using something that is already known to eliminate some alternatives and thus reduces the amount of visual information that is required» (ibid,58). In addition to visual information from print, redundancy might be present in the orthography, the syntax, the meaning or in some combination of these sources. But Smith proposed that «redundancy must always reflect non-visual information; prior knowledge on the part of the reader permits redundancy to be used» (opcit.311).

Text redundancy is central to the reading processes which are top-down processing, where the reader applies prior knowledge to the text, and bottom-up processing, where the reader derives meaning from macro-level structures in the text. Texts with redundancy tend to retain features typical of an unmodified text created for native speakers, however, they provide some type of additional linguistic support for English language learning strategies(ELLS) by adding redundancy and clarification of meaning through techniques such as the insertion of parenthetical definitions, repetition, paraphrasing, use of synonyms, and retention of full noun phrases instead of pronouns (Brewer,2008; Yan, 1994). Thus, these elaborative techniques as Parker & Chaudron state, do not simplify or complexify a text. Instead, they function as a way to clarify meaning (Parker & Chaudron, 1987, p.110. Cited in Maxwell, 2011,p. 14).

Works concerning the impact of redundancy on reading comprehension are contradictory. Some researchers found a meaningful relationship between redundancy and reading comprehension (Tuinman, et. Al,1972; Yano, et.al, 1994), others believe in a negative effect of redundancy on reading comprehension (Chastain, 1988; Yeung, et.al,1997; Sheeshing, 1999; Yu,2002). Yet, there are a number of scholars who reached the conclusion that a positive relationship exists between redundancy and reading comprehension (Henry, 1979; New Mark, 1981; Rivers, 1981; Sonnenschein, 1984;Bensoussan, 1990; Smith, 1991; Horning, 1991; Grant,1995; Maxwell, 2011). This study is an attempt to see the effect of text length in terms of redundancy on reading comprehension of Iranian high school learners.

2-Method

2.1. Participants

Participants were high school juniors in Isfahan, Iran. Sixty students, 37 males and 23 females, aged 17 to 18, joined the study voluntarily. They were the same on the basis of their general proficiency levels and the same number of years studying English. They were all Persian native speakers and naïve with respect to the purpose of the experiment. The participants were randomly divided into two groups.

2.2.Material

The materials were two reading passages chosen from the students’ English text book. The two passages were entitled ' Computer' and ' Memory' and followed by multiple- choice items and true-false questions. The two original passages were elaborated by adding redundant information to them in order to have two types of reading passages: one with redundancy (the elaborated one), and the other one without redundant elements (the original one).

2.3. Procedure

To reach the objective of the experiment, the following procedure was applied. First the control group participants were asked to read the two original passages, those without redundant elements, and answer the follow-up questions. The participants in the experimental group, however, were asked to read the elaborated passages, those with redundancy and answer the questions. The answer sheets were collected and later scored in order to be analyzed by means of statistical methods.

3- Results & Discussions

The obtained scores of the two groups and their frequencies are given in table 1 below:

Table 1

The participants' reading comprehension scores

frequency

Experimental

Frequency

Control Group

1

15

1

14

2

13

1

11

3

12

1

10

3

11

7

9

1

10

8

8

5

9

4

7

7

8

3

6

5

7

3

5

2

6

1

3

1

4

1

2

In order to show the efficacy of redundancy on L2 learners reading comprehension, the test scores were analyzed to see if there was a statistically significant difference between the two groups. Means, variances and standard deviations for the two sets of scores are shown in table 2.

Table 2

The means, variances and standard deviations of the two groups

Groups

N

X

SD

Control

30

7.60

5.352

2.313

Experimental

30

9.67

6.133

2.477

A t-test was run to see if the difference between the two means is statistically significant. The result of t-value calculation is presented in table 3 below.

Table 3

The result of t-value calculation

Groups

N

t-value

d.f

t-table level:05

t-table level: 01

Control

30

3.345

58

1.6715

2.3924

Experimental

30

As table 3 demonstrates the obtained t-value (3.345) is higher than the t-value of the table across the levels.05 and.01 which are 1.6715 and 2.3924 respectively. Therefore, we can safely reject the null hypothesis below:

Text length in terms of redundancy has no effect on Students’ reading comprehension.

The t-value supports that participants in experimental group benefited from the redundant elements in the elaborated passages and this in turn, improved their reading comprehension scores. The result of this study is in line with many research studies reporting the statistically significant impact of redundancy on reading comprehension (Maxwell,2011; Smith, 1991; Horning,1991; Grant, 1995). It is also in line with Anderson's theory (1984, 94) which says " short items are harder to comprehend than longer ones because reading involves building up expectations on the basis of redundancies. A sentence is proportionally harder to comprehend than a paragraph, a paragraph than a page, and an isolated word the hardest of all. The results however, may appear to contradict other findings from studies suggesting that redundancy has no effect on reading comprehension [32, 33, 29].

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