The role of background knowledge in text comprehension for children learning English as an additional language

Burgoyne, K, Whiteley, Helen and Hutchinson, J (2013) The role of background knowledge in text comprehension for children learning English as an additional language. Journal Of Research In Reading, 36 (2). pp. 132-148. ISSN 0141-0423 DOI

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Children learning English as an additional language (EAL) often experience difficulties with reading comprehension relative to their monolingual peers. While low levels of vocabulary appear to be one factor underlying these difficulties, other factors such as a relative lack of appropriate background knowledge may also contribute. Sixteen children learning EAL and 16 of their monolingual peers, matched for word reading accuracy, were assessed using a standard measure of reading comprehension and an experimental measure of reading comprehension for which relevant background knowledge was taught before assessing understanding. Tests of receptive and expressive vocabulary were also completed. Results confirmed lower levels of reading comprehension for children learning EAL for both standard and ‘background’ controlled measures. Analysis of comprehension by question type on the experimental measure showed that while both groups made use of taught knowledge to answer inferential questions, children learning EAL had specific difficulties with both literal questions and questions requiring the interpretation of a simile. It is suggested that relevant background information should be used to facilitate children's text comprehension. Furthermore, several factors, especially vocabulary differences, but also text search strategies, context use and comprehension monitoring skills, may contribute to the comprehension difficulties experienced by children learning EAL

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages
Divisions: Psychology
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2011 13:07

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