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Effects of Textual Enhancement and Topic Familiarity on Korean EFL Students' Reading Comprehension and Learning of Passive Form


  • This article reports on research conducted for my MA thesis submitted to the Department of Foreign Language Education at the graduate school of Seoul National University. I wish to thank Jin-Wan Kim, Oryang Kwon, and Hyun-Kwon Yang for their insightful comments and suggestions; Timothy Jordan and Michael I. Choi for their generous assistance in the editing process; and three anonymous reviewers and Rob Schoonen for their helpful comments. Finally, my sincere appreciation goes to John Norris and Lourdes Ortega for their invaluable input and encouragement throughout the writing of this article.

concerning this article should be addressed to Sang-Ki Lee, Department of Second Language Studies, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, 1890 East-West Road, Honolulu, HI 96822. Internet:


This quasi-experimental study attempts to incorporate grammatical elements into meaning-focused reading classes by attracting learner attention to form with minimal interruption to meaning comprehension. Two hundred fifty-nine Korean English as a foreign language students underwent four different treatments—involving textual enhancement and topic familiarity conditions. The responses of the students were compared with respect to (a) their ability to identify and correct English passive errors and (b) their degree of reading comprehension. The results revealed that textual enhancement aided the learning of the target forms while having unfavorable effects on meaning comprehension. Topic familiarity, by contrast, aided the students' comprehension but was ineffective in terms of their learning of form. I discuss the findings in light of the theoretical relationship between acquisition and comprehension and conclude with implications for meaning-oriented lessons.