Capstone/Dissertation Title

Exploring Reading Comprehension using Culturally Familiar and Unfamiliar Narrative texts in an Intermediate ESL Classroom

Term

Fall 12-4-2014

Capstone

Thesis

Degree Name

MAESL

Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Andreas Schramm

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Feride Erku

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Jennifer Meagher

Abstract

A significant amount of research on reading comprehension of English learners focuses on pre-reading activities and few examine the relationship between reading comprehension and culturally relevant texts. This study examines the relationship between culturally relevant reading materials and reading comprehension of such texts by English learners. It addresses the primary question of whether reading comprehension of culturally familiar texts is better than that of culturally unfamiliar ones. The study aims at enhancing the teaching and learning of reading comprehension through the use of culturally relevant texts. It involves a comparison of comprehension results between these types of texts. Results suggest an increase in the comprehension of culturally relevant materials as defined in this study and independent of first or second-language culture. One of the results can be considered somewhat surprising; namely, comprehension of a text in second language may be impacted by experiences of the learner in the second language culture—which may be very different from those of the first culture. Based on the findings of this study it may be concluded that encouraging teachers in a frequent and systematic use of culturally relevant reading materials may provide English learners more conceptual abilities in reading comprehension and perhaps reading motivation. The study concludes with reflections and possibilities of further research.

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