Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Effect of Graphic Organizers on Reading Comprehension of Iranian Efl Learners: With a Focus on Gender

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Effect of Graphic Organizers on Reading Comprehension of Iranian Efl Learners: With a Focus on Gender

Article excerpt

Being able to read in English is significant for a variety of reasons. Not only is reading a fundamental language skill, but also academic success of the language learners on high-stake tests depends to their reading skill, as a separate section on TOEFL and IELTS test is allotted to the reading skill. In addition, reading in L2 provides opportunities for learning other language skills and subskills. The effect of reading on incidental vocabulary learning of language learners has already been observed by Ko (2012). Needless to mention that, on the other hand, it is hard to answer listening question without reading them first.

The reading skill of language learners may differ based on their gender, as a result; part of the literature on reading comprehension refers to gender-based studies, e.g., Brantmeier (2003). The issue was so significant that some studies suggest gender-neutral studies (Jalilevand, 2014) and some others have gauged the effect of male-oriented and female oriented topics on reading comprehension of language learners (Bugel & Buunk, 1996). Such diverse and opposing results may indicate how significant it is to conduct a new study dealing with the issue of graphic organizers and gender.

Regardless of language learners' gender, the ultimate goal of these studies is to find a way to increase EFL learners; reading comprehension of language learners. One possible way to do so seems to be the use of graphic organizers. Prior research on the effect of graphic organizers on reading comprehension of EFL learners has revealed that graphic organizers can connect what language learners already know to their existing knowldge (Cromley & Azevedo, 2007). Graphic organizers provide a visual-verbal source for language learners (Dolehanty, 2008). In addition, comparison of the effect of graphic organizers developed by language learners and those which were developed by language teachers shows that the former group can have more positive effect on learning the second language (Griffin, Cynthia, Malone, & Kameenui, 1995).

According to the literature, graphic organizers have appeared to be an effective way to teach and learn new information and overarch concepts. The arguments for graphic organizers include the importance of connecting new information to prior knowledge which can result in a longer retention of knowledge (Jonassen et al., 1997). In a more precise description of graphic organizers, Dolehanty (2008) refers to it as a use of visual symbols for specific words to general ideas which results in more holistic understanding of the concepts. That is why, graphic organizers are referred to using other words such as concept map or cognitive organizer.

This study dealt with the effect of graphic organizers on reading comprehension of male and female Iranian EFL learners in the EFL context of Iran, as, to the researcher's best knowledge, the topic in this context is novel and Iranian EFL learners are in need of innovative approaches to increase their reading. In should be mentioned that, the use of graphic organizers depends on the type of task used in the class. As a result, the researchers were meticulous in selecting the type of graphic organizers. The type of graphic organizers used in this study were Y-chat, story Star Chart, Spider map and PMI chart as they have been among the most effective for the reading tasks.

Statement of the Problem

Although reading comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading classes and that it is very significant to language learners' success, the Iranian EFL context seems to suffer from certain shortcomings in this regard. Not only, in most cases, are no supplementary materials used to foster EFL learners' reading comprehension in this context, but also, the material used by the language books hardly contain more visual help other than a simple picture of the reading text. As a result, language learners reading skill may not be enhanced as much as it really could be. …

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