Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Exploring Iranian Efl Learners' Reading Comprehension Test Performance: The Role of Knowledge of Reading Strategies as an Internal Factor

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Exploring Iranian Efl Learners' Reading Comprehension Test Performance: The Role of Knowledge of Reading Strategies as an Internal Factor

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Reading is considered particularly valuable under the foreign language context as it is an influential activity through which learners can be exposed to language input (Laufer, 2010, as cited in Jafari & Ketabi, 2012). It is a composite of many abilities and an interactive process between the reader and the text resu lting in comprehension which is its principal point (Carnine, Silbert, & Kameenui, 1997). Nowadays reading comprehension (RC) is an indispensable part of high-stakes exams such as TOEFL, IELTS, MSRT, TOLIMOE, TELP, and even entrance exams for universities and it seems crucial for the students to become proficient in the reading process. As a result, finding a way to enhance reading comprehension is of great importance in the field of reading research. A factor affecting reading comprehension test performanc e of EFL learners is their knowledge of reading strategies. It requires further research, especially in an EFL context such as Iran since the small number of studies in the literature is not sufficient to come to any clear conclusion about the true nature of the effects of this factor.

2. Literature Review

Reading comprehension strategies are tools that students can use to help determine the meaning of what they read. Researchers of second/foreign language reading (e.g., Brantmeier, 2002; Slataci & Akyel, 2002) have long investigated reading comprehension strategies whose integration and application is believed to lead to efficient reading comprehension. It is believed that the use of appropriate reading strategies can improve reading comprehension (Olsen & Gee, 1991). Such strategies involve memory and compensation strat- egies together with cognitive, metacognitive, affective, social, and test -taking strategies (Chamot, 2005; Caverly, 1997; Oxford, 1996; and Zhang, 1993).

According to Anderson (1991), Cohen (1990), Pressley (2002), and Zhang, Gu, and Hu (2008) reading strat egies used by readers range from the more traditionally well-known ones like skimming, scanning, and inferring to the more recently recognized ones such as generating questions, activating schemata, using mental imagery, recognizing text structure, monitoring comprehension, visualizing, evaluating strategy use, etc. Researchers have pointed out that strategies themselves are not inherently good or bad, but they have the potential to be used effectively or ineffectively in different contexts (Cohen, 2003, 2007; Grabe, 2004; Hadwin et al., 2001; Paris, 2002; and Zhang, 2003).

2.1 Studies on Reading Strategy

In the literature, studies on reading strategy are divided into two major cate gories. The first category describes the readers' strategy use as different among more and less proficient readers (Carrell, 1989; Janzen, 1996). As an instance, Yau (2005) in a study on language learning strategy use found that proficient readers apply more sophisticated approaches to reading than less-proficient ones. In his study the skilled reader employed strategies of inferring, summarizing, and synthesizing during and after reading, while the less skilled reader used bridging inferences, paraphrasing, and repetition. Yaali Jahromi (2002) also found that the high proficient students used more strategies. Similarly, the results of a study by Al -Melhi (2000) on a random sample of fourth-year Saudi college students as they read in English as a foreign lan guage proved that some differences did exist between the skilled and less-skilled readers in terms of their actual and reported reading strategies, their metacognitive awareness, their use of global and local strategies, their self - confidence as readers, and their perception of a good reader.

The second category of studies investigates the impact of reading strategy instruction on the readers' reading performance. Implying the crucial importance of reading strategies, some studies support the effectiveness of reading strategies instruction (Carrel, 1998; Dreyer &Nel, 2003; Kern, 1989; Meng, 2004), while others refer to reading strategies instruction as a useless activity (Barnett, 1988). …

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