The Cultural Baggage of Second Language Reading: An Approach to Understanding the Practices and Perspectives of a Nonnative Product


  • Eileen M. Ketchum

    1. Muhlenberg College
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      Eileen M. Ketchum (PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison) is Visiting Assistant Professor of French at Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania


The role of background knowledge in second language (***L2) reading has received much attention in pedagogical research through theoretical paradigms such as schema theory, mental models, scripts, and expectations. The recent culture goals of the National Standards (1999) have provided new direction for research in interactive reading models, as sufficient background knowledge can help students comprehend the relationship between the practices and perspectives of a nonnative text or product. This article presents a 3R model of reading strategies (Recognize, Research, Relate) that focuses on developing background knowledge about a target culture while applying this schema to appropriate clues in a foreign text. Samples of data from a qualitative study testing the effectiveness of the 3R model accompany the discussion of this approach designed for a wide-ranging instructional audience.