Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Effects of Opinion and Reasoning Tasks on Male and Female Iranian Efl Learners' Reading Comprehension

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Effects of Opinion and Reasoning Tasks on Male and Female Iranian Efl Learners' Reading Comprehension

Article excerpt

Introduction

No doubt reading comprehension is a very important skill for L2 learners to acquire. The criteria involved in reading are highly important to attain. There is need to pay attention to more prominent activities such as different types of tasks that are designed to help achieve comprehension goals. So many factors, e.g. task-based language teaching, are involved in this issue. These factors can have negative or positive effects on the overall quality of students' reading comprehension performance. In this regard, to show the value of the performance of tasks in L2 classrooms, Hajpournezhad (2009) conducted a study to determine the effectiveness of task types in L2 classes to improve the learners' reading comprehension. The results of such a consideration showed that students taught by the use of different tasks had much more better comprehension of reading than those who were taught by traditional way of teaching reading. The purpose of the present research is also to focus on the improvement of reading comprehension of students by using two types of cognitive tasks (opinion gap and reasoning gap).

The present study aims to explore the possible impacts of the performance of cognitive tasks on EFL learners' reading comprehension. In the realm of learners' reading improvement, different cognitive tasks have been studied (e.g. HajiPourNezhad & ShokrPour, 2012; Salmani, 2006). It is believed that such different task types cause learners to focus on different characteristics of the text because the demands of tasks are not the same (Joe, 1998). Opinion-gap task types require participants to express their ideas on a subject. A reasoning-gap task is a task which requires the participants to engage in reasoning, such as synthesizing the provided information and deducing new facts in order to perform it successfully. The two task types activate different cognitive strategies. Therefore, the outcomes of the two task types may be different when performed by learners with different cognitive styles (Pica, Young, & Doughty, 1993). Apart from the specific cognitive style that learners carry with them into the learning environment, the type of reading questions they are asked also influences their reading performance. This has been comprehensively addressed by Bachman (2000) under the title of test method facets, suggesting the wide range of variations in test rubrics and procedures that leave impacts on the performance. In fact, the concept of "reading comprehension" has not lent itself well to a clear operational definition so that it has been mostly defined by many measures used in its assessment (Daly, Chafouleas, & Skinner, 2005; Frith & Snowling, 1983; Myles, Hilgenfeld, Barnhill, Griswold, Hagiwara, & Simpson, 2002).

Statement of the Problem

During the history of language teaching, different approaches and methods have been developed in order to help learners learn a second/foreign language better. Before the scientific era of language teaching, which began with the emergence of audiolingualism in the mid 20th century, the focus was on teaching grammar and on the ability to translate literary texts. However, this teachercentered method could not resist the new findings of psychology, linguistics, and educational theory and the field of language teaching gradually proceeded towards more learner-centered approaches and methods. The shifts in the goals of language teaching and the new communicative needs changed the methods and hence the views about the four skills, for instance, reading comprehension, were treated differently in various methods and approaches. Reading was considered a passive skill in some methods and approaches. However, with the emergence of comprehension and communicative approaches, reading gained prominence and came to be known as an active and meaningful process rather than a passive product. Brown (2001) introduced different techniques for teaching reading comprehension. …

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