Ms. Johnson has taught ESL extensively at both the secondary and college levels. The research reported in this article was conducted at the University of Illinois, 1978–79.
Effects on Reading Comprehension of Language Complexity and Cultural Background of a Text
Article first published online: 4 JAN 2012
1981 TESOL International Association
Volume 15, Issue 2, pages 169–181, June 1981
How to Cite
Johnson, P. (1981), Effects on Reading Comprehension of Language Complexity and Cultural Background of a Text. TESOL Quarterly, 15: 169–181. doi: 10.2307/3586408
- Issue published online: 4 JAN 2012
- Article first published online: 4 JAN 2012
The present study investigated the effects of the complexity of the English language and the cultural origin of prose on the reading comprehension of 46 Iranian intermediate/advanced ESL students at the university level. Half of the subjects read the unadapted English texts of two stories, one from Iranian folklore and one from American folklore; the other half read the same stories in adapted or simplified English. The subjects were tested on reading comprehension through the use of multiple choice questions on explicit and implicit information in the texts. The recall questions on the stories were also given to 19 American subjects for comparison purposes. Multivariate analysis of variance indicated that the cultural origin of the story had more effect on the comprehension of the ESL students than the level of syntactic and semantic complexity, adapted vs. unadapted. For native English readers, however, both the level of syntactic and semantic complexity of the text and the cultural origin of the story affected comprehension. The native language readers were better able to understand un-adapted English and the story based on American folklore. Implications of this study for teaching and for materials selection and design are discussed.