Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Relationship between Readability of Iranian High School English Books, Students' Reading Comprehension and Their Motivation across Genders

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Relationship between Readability of Iranian High School English Books, Students' Reading Comprehension and Their Motivation across Genders

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Understanding the written word is one of the most essential of all academic skills. It is an ability as vital to the student in first grade as to the high school senior. Comprehending the reading material is applicable in almost every subject area at every grade level and is one of the life-long skills needed for success. Since reading has always permeated the curriculum to such an extent, improving reading comprehension has long been a goal of many educators. Indeed, since high achieving students are generally good readers, and poor achievers are generally poor readers, any approach towards improving school achievement must focus in a substantial part on increased reading comprehension (Wallace, 1995).

Matching students' reading level to appropriate reading material is a difficult problem for many teachers. This is because the principle that students read most successfully if the reading material they are given matches their reading level is easy to accept but hard to use (Bloor, 1995). The importance of reading materials, especially prescribed textbooks in the school system need not to be overemphasized. This is because textbooks are a vital instrument for teaching and learning. Since one of the drawbacks of the readability formulas is that they do not consider the motivational factors of the students who deal with the reading material as a reader and just typically, look at things like word and sentence length, and the frequency of longer words and generally the quantification of the reading materials, the present study considers the motivational factors of the students in reading comprehension in addition to the difficulty level of the reading materials. The specific objective of the present study is to investigate the relationship between the Readability of Iranian High School English Books, students' motivation and reading comprehension performance.

One of the most important issues in the realm of ESL/EFL research has been the match between the materials and the proficiency level of those who receive or use them. This plays a crucial role in material sequencing and gradation. Some methods have been developed to create a match between learners" proficiency and the difficulty level of written materials. This issue acquires even greater momentum with regard to the fact that, in many cases, written material comprises the main source for most language learners, most prominently in academic and higher educational fields. Subjective methods such as teacher or reader judgments have been inadequate due to their very nature. In order to overcome the subjectivity of these methods and its consequences, objective ways have been designed to measure the difficulty level of written materials for the purpose of matching them to suitable level of the readers" proficiency. The dependability of these objective methods has in turn been rightly subject to criticism and research both theoretically and empirically.

Reading serves a wide range of purposes in the lives of different categories of people who are literate. In school, it is the basis for learning different subjects. Whatever, the aspect of life one is considering, one discovers that the ability to read efficiently enhances individual ability to function in an effective manner. According to Ituen (1998), a reader does not approach text merely for the purpose of reading the language itself but for a purpose other than reading the words on the page.

Given the importance of reading, one understands why Macauley (1982) cited in Ituen (1998) considers as very unfortunate the failure of developing countries to give reading its rightful place in schools' programs, unlike what obtains in many developed countries.

The present study attempts to investigate whether readers" comprehension is correlated with the difficulty of texts determined by readability formulas. Moreover, it aims to investigate whether readability is correlated with the student's motivation level. …

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