ISLAMIC AZAD UNIVERSITY
Central Tehran Branch
Faculty of Foreign Languages
Thesis Submitted In Partial Fulfillment Of The Requirement For
The Degree Of Master Of Arts In Teaching English As
A Foreign Language
Subject:
The Relationship between EFL Learners’ Use of Reading Strategies and
Comprehension of Expository and Argumentative Texts
across Different Proficiency Levels
Advisor:
Dr. NasimShangarffam
Reader:
Dr. Hamid Marashizadeh
By:
Sepideh Salehi
Winter 2014

“In the Name of God”
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Firstly, I thank God for providing me with the opportunity to educate. Then, I wish to express my warmest gratitude to the following people, without whose help, I would not have been able to complete this thesis.
I am heartily thankful to my advisor, Dr. Nasim Shangarfam, for her care and support from the initial to final level of the study which enabled me to develop an understanding of the subject.
My sincere thanks also go to my reader, Dr. Hamid Marashi, who attended to every minute detail in his reading of this thesis and gave me invaluable corrections and suggestions.
My warm thanks to Dr. Sholeh Kolahi who took the trouble to read and review this research as the external reader.
My sincere thanks to my family for their continuous help and support throughout the process of this study.

ABSTRACT
This study was an ex post facto descriptive attempt to investigate the relationship between EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and comprehension of expository and argumentative text across different proficiency levels. In order to fulfill the purpose of this study, 120 female EFL learners aged within the range of 14 to 30 years participated in the study. The sample was selected from one of the branches of ILI language school. As proficiency levels were considered as a variable in this study, each level namely beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels included 44, 51, and 25 participants. Students were assigned to each level through the International Language Institute’s (ILI) placement test. In the first session, a Persian version of Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) questionnaire was administered to students. The SILL is the most widely used instrument for identifying reading strategies and in was created by Oxford (1990). In the second session, the participants took the reading tests. Each subject was assigned a test booklet which contained four reading passages (two expository and two argumentative passages). The Flesch Reading Ease formula was used in order to determine the suitable level of texts. Flesch Reading Ease Formula is considered one of the oldest and most accurate readability formulas. Finally, Pearson correlation and multiple regression analyses were used to analyze the data. The results of this research revealed that, there is a significant relationship between EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and their comprehension of expository and argumentative texts across different proficiency levels. Also it was shown in the data analysis that EFL learners’ use of reading strategy was a significant predictor of their comprehension of expository and argumentative texts.

Table of Contents
Acknowledgment…………………………………………………………………………………iii
Abstract……………………………………………………………………………………………iv
List of Contents……………………………………………………………………………………v
List of Tables……………………………………………………………………………….…….ix
List of Figures………………………………………………………………………………….…xii
CHAPTER I: Background and Purpose
1.1 Introduction……………………………………………………………………..……………2
1.2 Statement of the Problem ………………………………………………………..…………5
1.3 Statement of the Research Questions……………………………………………..…………8
1.4 Statement of the Research Hypotheses……………………………………………………10
1.5 Definition of Key Terms…………………………………………………………………..12
1.5.1 Argumentative text …………………………………………………………………..12
1.5.2 Expository text ………………………………………………………………………12
1.5.3 Proficiency level ……………………………………………………………………………………………13
1.5.4 Reading strategy………………………………………………………………….…..13
1.6 Significance of the Study………………………………………………………………….14
1.7 Limitations, Delimitations, and Assumption ……………………………………………..16
CHAPTER II: Review of the Related Literature
2.1 What is reading?……………………………………………………………………………………………………19
2.1.1 Importance of reading …………………………………….……………………..……22
2.1.2 Approaches to reading skill ……………………………………………..……………25
2.1.3 Reading comprehension theories ……………………………………………………..26
2.1.3.1 Schema Theory …………………………………………………………………27
2.1.3.2. Sub skills View of Reading ……………………………………………………28
2.1.4 Different Kinds of Reading …………………………………………………………..31
2.1.5 Teaching and Learning Reading ……………………………………………………..34
2.1.6 Strategy ………………………………………………………………………………36
2.1.6.1 Learning Strategy ……………………………………………………………..39
2.1.6.2 Reading Strategies …………………………..…………………………………39
2.1.6.2.1 Extensive and Intensive Reading Strategies ……………..……………46
2.1.6.2.2 Cognitive Strategies ……………………………………………………47
2.1.6.2.3 Metacognitive Strategies ………………………………………………49
2.1.6.2.4 Compensation Strategies ………………………………………………50
2.1.6.2.5 Scanning and Skimming Reading Strategies ………………………….51
2.1.7 L1/L2 Reading Strategies ………………..…………………………………………..55
2.1.8. Learner Strategy Training ……………………………………………………………58
2.2 Text ……………….……………………………………………………………………….59
2.2.1 Text comprehension ……………………………………………………………………60
2.2.2 Text type ……………..………………………………………………………………..62
2.2.2.1 Expository text ……….…………………………………………………………68
2.2.2.2 Students with Learning Disabilities and Expository Text ………………………70
2.2.2.3 Argumentative text …………………….………………………………………..73
2.2.3 Connectives, text types, and reading comprehension ………..………………………..76
2.2.4 Two Approaches to Text Type Analysis ……..……………………………………….77
2.2.5 Genre and Text Type ………………………………………………………………….79
CHAPTER III: Method
3.1 Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………86
3.2 Participants …………………………………………………………..…………………….88
3.3 Instrumentation …………………………………………………………………………….88
3.3.1 Test of Reading Comprehension …….……………………………………..………….88
3.3.2 Reading strategies questionnaire ……………………………………………………….91
3.4 Procedure …………………..………………………………………………………………91
3.5 Design …………….……………………………………………………………………….93
3.6 Statistical Analysis ………………..……………………………………………………….94
CHAPTER IV: Research and Discussion
4.1 Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………..96
4.2 Restatement of the Research Hypotheses …………………….……………………………96
4.3 Reliability Analysis ………………………………………………………………………..98
4.4 Descriptive Statistics of the SILL Questionnaire ………………………………………….99
4.5 Descriptive Statistics of the Reading Comprehension Tests ……………….…………….101
4.6 Testing the Hypotheses of the Study ……………………………….…………………….107
4.7 Discussion of the Findings ………………..………………………………………………124
CHAPTER V: Conclusion and Pedagogical Implications
5.1 Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………….130
5.2 Procedures and Summery of the Findings ….…………………………………………….130
5.3 Pedagogical Implications ………………………………………………………………….131
5.4 Suggestions for Further Research ……………………………….………………………..133
References………………………………………………………………………………………134
Appendices
Appendix A …………………….…………………………………………………………….153
Appendix B …………………….……………………………………………………………..158
Appendix C …………..……………………………………………………………………….160
Appendix D ………..…………………………………………………………………………162
Appendix E ………….………………………………………………………………………..164
Appendix F ……………..…………………………………………………………………….166
Appendix G ……………………………………..……………………………………………167
Appendix H …………………..………………………………………………………………169
Appendix I …………………………………………………………………………………….171
Appendix J ……………………………………………………………………………………173
Appendix K ……………………………………………..……………………………………175
Appendix L …………..……………………………………………………………………….177
Appendix M …………………………………………………………………………………..179

Lists of Tables
Table 2.1 Genres and Text Types ………………..…………………………………………….182
Table 3.1 Readability Statistics of the Texts Selected for Beginners …………………….……183
Table 3.2 Readability Statistics of the Texts Selected for Intermediates ………….…………..184
Table 3.3 Readability Statistics of the Texts Selected for Advanced …………….……………185
Table 3.4 The Variables of the Study …………………………………………………………..186
Table 4.1 Reliability statistics of the reading comprehension test for beginner learners ………187
Table 4.2 Reliability statistics of the reading comprehension test for intermediate learners ….188
Table 4.3 Reliability statistics of the reading comprehension test for advance learners ……….189
Table 4.4 Descriptive statistics of the obtained scores on reading strategy use questionnaire…190
Table 4.5 Normality checks of SILL scores distributions ……………………………………..191
Table 4.6 Descriptive Statistics of the Obtained Scores on expository text comprehension tests …192
Table 4.7 Normality checks of Expository test scores distributions ………………..………….193
Table 4.8 Descriptive Statistics of the Obtained Scores on argumentative text comprehension tests ……………………………………………………………………………………….194
Table 4.9 Normality checks of Argumentative test scores distributions ………………………195
Table 4.10 Correlation between reading strategies and expository text comprehension ……….196
Table 4.11 Correlation between beginner learners’ use of reading strategies and expository text comprehension ……………………………………………………………………………..197
Table 4.12 Correlation between intermediate learners’ use of reading strategies and expository text comprehension ………………………………………………………………………..198
Table 4.13 Correlation between advanced learners’ use of reading strategies and expository text comprehension …………………………………………………………………………….199
Table 4.14 Correlation between reading strategies and argumentative text comprehension …..200
Table 4.15 Correlation between beginner learners’ use of reading strategies and argumentative text comprehension ………………………….…………………………………………….201
Table 4.16 Correlation between intermediate learners’ use of reading strategies an argumentative text comprehension ………………………….…………………………………………….202
Table 4.17 Correlation between advanced learners’ use of reading strategies and argumentative text comprehension …………………………………………………….………………….203
Table 4.18 Model Summary ……………….…………………………………………………..204
Table 4.19 ANOVA of regression model ………..…………………………………………….205
Table 4.20 Model Summary ………………………….………………………………………..206
Table 4.21 ANOVA of regression model ………………………………………………………207
Table 4.22 Model Summary …………………………………………………………..……….208
Table 4.23 ANOVA of regression model ……………………………..……………………….209
Table 4.24 Model Summary ……………………………………………………………………210
Table 4.25 ANOVA of regression model ………………………………………………………211
Table 4.26 Model Summary …………………….……………………………………………..212
Table 4.27 ANOVA of regression model ………………………………………………………213
Table 4.28 Model Summary ……………………………………………………………………214
Table 4.29 ANOVA of regression model ……………………………..……………………….215
Table 4.30 Model Summary ……………………………………………………………………216
Table 4.31 ANOVA of regression model ………………………………………………………217
Table 4.32 Model Summary ……………………………………………………………………218
Table 4.33 ANOVA of regression model ………………………………………………………219

Lists of Figures
Figure 4.1 Distribution of Beginners’ SILL Scores ………..…………………………………..221
Figure 4.2 Distribution of Intermediates’ SILL Scores …………..……………………………222
Figure 4.3 Distribution of Advances’ SILL Scores …………………..………………………..223
Figure 4.4 Distribution of Beginners’ Expository Test Scores …………….…………………..224
Figure 4.5 Distribution of Intermediates’ Expository Test Scores ………………….…………225
Figure 4.6 Distribution of Advances’ Expository Test Scores ………………….……………..226
Figure 4.7 Distribution of Beginners’ Argumentative Test Scores ……………………..……..227
Figure 4.8 Distribution of Intermediates’ Argumentative Test Scores ………….……………..228
Figure 4.9 Distribution of Advances’ Argumentative Test Scores …………………………….229
CHAPTER I

Background and Purpose

1.1 Introduction
Language-teaching methodology has seen a dramatic increase in attention to the strategies investment that learners can make in their own learning process. The learning of any skill involves a certain degree of investment of one’s time and effort. According to brown (2001) A language is probably the most complex set of skills one would ever seek to acquire; therefore, an investment of strategies is necessary in the form of developing multiple layers of strategies for getting that language in to one’s brain.
Reading is a fundamental skill for English foreign/second language (EFL/ESL) learners (Anderson, 2003). Rivers (1981) considers reading as the most significant activity in language classrooms since it acts not only as a source of information and a pleasurable activity, but also as a means of consolidating and extending one’s knowledge of the language. According to Anderson (2003), it is an essential skill for learners of English and for most of learners it is the most important skill to master in order to ensure success in learning. With strengthened reading skill, learners of English tend to make progress in other areas of language learning.
In the last two decades, attention has been paid to understanding what proficient readers typically do while reading, including identifying the strategies they use and how and under what conditions they use those strategies. This line of research has been useful in instructing non-proficient first and second-language readers to increase their awareness and use of reading strategies to improve comprehension (Sheorey & Mokhtari, 2001). For successful reading, students are required to understand the meaning of text, critically evaluate the message, remember the content and apply the new-found knowledge flexibly (Pressley, 2000). In order to reach these objectives, proficient readers use a variety of strategies before, during and after the reading of a text in order to comprehend the text and prevent any problem which may occur during this process. In other words, strategies are considered as the most beneficial tools any reader can use for controlling progress of and for ensuring success in reading. Applying strategic behavior in reading requires that readers intentionally engage in planned actions under their control (Alexander, Graham & Harris, 1998).
Beside the importance of reading strategies, text comprehension is also crucial. Text comprehension is an interactive process in which linguistic elements in a discourse or text interact with each other to create the “texture” of a text (Halliday & Hassan, 1976, de Beaugrande & Dressler, 1981). The second level of interactions is between bottom-up and top-down processing of texts take place in the readers’ minds, or between linguistic knowledge and world knowledge (Eskey, 1988, Grabe & Stoller, 2002). The third level of interaction is an interpretive one between the reader and a text, or between the reader and the writer through a text (Nuttal, 1996, Ozono and Ito, 2003). Lipson and Wixon (1986), among others, claim that research on reading ability as well as reading disability should adopt an interactive view. Such a view takes into account the dynamic process of reading in which the reader, text, process, and the setting conditions of the reading situation interact in an active and flexible manner. This claim should be extended to reading in a foreign language as well. In fact, to understand how foreign language learners comprehend texts, many researchers have emphasized the need to study the differential contribution of text-based characteristics such as genre, text structure parameters, and textual markers (Geva, 1992; Camiciottoli. 2003; Carrel, 1985).
In addition, the readers’ ability to comprehend a text may vary as a function of the text type (Schneuwly, 1997; Alverman, et al., 1995). According to Neubert (1985) text types motivate particular frames and act out certain scenarios. They recast the linguistic material available in the system of a language into socially efficient, effective and appropriate moulds. He believes that texts are various instances clustering around a holistic experience that has been shared over time. This ‘prolonged interactive experience’ takes the shape of prototypical encounters and this empirical prototypicality is then translated into the concept of the prototype text. Other scholars have come up with their own text typologies. More specifically, Werlich (1976) distinguishes between five text types: description, narration, argumentation, instruction, and exposition text types.
In today’s society it is essential to be able to read fluently, particularly, expository and argumentative texts (Chambliss, 1995; Gresten, Fuchs, Williams, & Baker, 2001). Understanding the rhetorical relations of texts is to be at the heart of the comprehension process of the text and of the writers’ intention in the text (Alavi, 2001). It follows that if readers can infer textual relations in less demanding texts, they may not be as successful when they have to read and learn from texts that are more demanding, i.e. when they have to learn from expository text, or pinpoint niches from argumentative texts. This difficulty may further illustrate the challenges facing readers of English as a foreign language as the focus of literacy programs shifts from “learning to read”, a prominent target in the primary grades to “reading to learn” through English at the university (Chall, et al, 1996).
Berman and Katzenberger (2004) suggested that the well-formed expository texts are constructed beginning from high school. Expository texts are written to convey, describe, or explain non-fictional information. It is more difficult for ESL/EFL learners to understand these types of materials than narrative texts because they have specific text structures, contain technical vocabulary, and require readers to have background knowledge. Hatmin and Mason (1990) elaborated the cognitive underpinning of different text types. They argue that expository text type involves analysis and synthesis of concepts; it deals with the mental process of comprehension. Analysis (taking a concept and working out its constituent elements) or synthesis (taking the constituent elements of a complex concept and working out a shorter formulation for it) are the two basic procedures employed in expository texts.
In argumentative texts the need to persuade through evaluation is paramount with a predominance of emotive diction, metaphoric expression and subtle uses of modality (Hatim and Mason, 1990). In other words, various propositions related to the subject of enquiry are put forward and an argument for or against them is constructed (Laser and Slater, 1998). Trikonnen-Condit (1996) views the production of argumentative text as the cognitive process of problem solving. She points out that the process of written argumentation typically has the following structural units: situation, problem, solution, and evaluation. In fact, this text focuses on relations between concepts, where one opinion is upheld and its relation with opposing opinions or solution investigated. They deal with the mental process of judging.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The importance of reading strategies has been recognized by many scholars. According to Block (1986), reading strategies indicate how readers conceive a task, what textual cues they attend to, how they make sense of what they read, and what they do when they do not understand. Nunan (1999) contends that learners are not aware of strategies underlying the learning task in which they are involved. Learners employ a variety of reading strategies to help them when they have to read in that language. They apply some strategies which, it seems, they themselves have discovered, since, they are not taught these strategies explicitly in high schools. Furthermore, Carter and Nunan ( 2001) claimed that many language teachers fall ill-equipped to conduct strategy instruction because they have never had the chance to see or participate in such instructions themselves. So teachers are responsible to instruct students how to use strategies in order to comprehend a text. Oxford (1990) claims that reading strategies are teachable. Various language-learning investigations round the world indicate that strategy instruction leads to greater use, self efficacy, anxiety reduction, increased motivation, higher language proficiency, and positive attitude.
In addition to the problem of not knowing how to use strategies and how to comprehend a text, Swales (1990) emphasizes the merits of genre awareness and learners’ unfamiliarity with different types of genres that can lead to problems in their reading comprehension. Hoyt (1999) affirms that expository text presents the greatest hardship for students. Also Cook (1983) talks about the difficulty of expository text. Cook argues that because expository texts present facts, theories, dates and information which are largely unfamiliar to the readers, they seem harder than narrative texts and moreover this unfamiliarity impedes their comprehension. Obviously the necessity of being familiar with expository texts will be increased when we come to know that most of academic texts are expository.
On the other hand, despite the importance of comprehending argumentative text, the research indicates that extended arguments in persuasive essays are not easily comprehended by students (Chambliss, 1995). The researchers have shown several reasons that explain this difficulty in comprehending argumentative text (Chambliss, 1995; Sanez & Fuchs, 2001). One of the reasons for poor understanding of argumentative text is that students are not often exposed to reading materials that include extensive arguments (Chambliss, 1995). A second reason is that argumentative text is inherently difficult because unlike narrative text, argumentative text is often embedded in other genres (i.e., informational or narrative text), thus, it is difficult for the learners to navigate through the text to figure out the author’s argument. A third reason is that a reader often has to simultaneously juggle many skills to fully comprehend an author’s argument.
Finally, Jean Ciborowski (1992) argues that challenge in reading comprehension stems from a lack of expository and argumentative texts in the classroom. When students are not prepared to read and comprehend nonfiction from an early age, there can be devastating long-term consequences.
However, there are encouraging signs that people in their daily lives encounter a variety of writing texts. When they pick up and read a non-fiction book or newspaper article the author uses expository writing to inform the reader about the topic. Expository texts include biographies, essays, how-to books, encyclopedias, reference books, experimental books, scientific reports, newspaper articles, and so on (Reutzel & Cooter, 2007). In fact, this kind of text surrounds us in our everyday lives. In addition to the importance of expository text, the findings of a study conducted by Nemati (2003) have revealed that argumentative reading is the most demanding mode of reading for Iranian EFL learners. Also accrued research indicates that critical reading of argumentative text is important not only for succeeding on high-school and college assignments but also for making real-life decisions (Knudson, 1992; Larson, Britt, & Larson, 2004). Further, McCann (1989) stated, “Argument is an essential instrument for a free society that deliberates about social, political and ethical issues” (as cited in Knudson, 1992; p. 170). Though challenging in nature, argumentative reading holds a favorable position in educational and job related tasks.
Therefore, Students need to be prepared for learning different text types and consistently be exposed to them in order to gain familiarity and confidence in constructing meaning. The task for modern teachers is to present a balanced literacy program which incorporates carefully-selected argumentative and expository texts that cover a wide range of topics and genres. Also strategy teaching has been emphasized by researchers such as Harvey and Goudvis (2000) believing that teachers must teach learners the strategies they need to understand text better and to become more competent readers.
In accordance with the aforementioned issues, the purpose of the present study was to determine whether there is any relationship between the use of reading strategies and comprehension of expository and argumentative genres.

1.3 Statement of the Research Questions
To fulfill the main purpose of the study, the following research questions were posed:
Q1: Is there any significant relationship between EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and expository text comprehension across different proficiency levels?
Q2: Is there any significant relationship between beginner EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and expository text comprehension?
Q3: Is there any significant relationship between intermediate EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and expository text comprehension?
Q4: Is there any significant relationship between advanced EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and expository text comprehension?
Q5: Is there any significant relationship between EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and argumentative text comprehension across different proficiency levels?
Q6: Is there any significant relationship between beginner EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and argumentative text comprehension?
Q7: Is there any significant relationship between intermediate EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and argumentative text comprehension?
Q8: Is there any significant relationship between advanced EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and argumentative text comprehension?
In case there is a significant relationship between EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and comprehension of expository text across different proficiency levels, the following questions are posed:
Q9: Is EFL learners’ use of reading strategies a significant predictor of their comprehension of expository text across different proficiency levels?
Q10: Is beginner EFL learners’ use of reading strategies a significant predictor of their comprehension of expository text?
Q11: Is intermediate EFL learners’ use of reading strategies a significant predictor of their comprehension of expository text?
Q12: Is advanced EFL learners’ use of reading strategies a significant predictor of their comprehension of expository text?
In case there is a significant relationship between EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and comprehension of argumentative text across different proficiency levels, the following questions are posed:
Q13: Is EFL learners’ use of reading strategies a significant predictor of their comprehension of argumentative text across different proficiency levels?
Q14: Is beginner EFL learners’ use of reading strategies a significant predictor of their comprehension of argumentative text?
Q15: Is intermediate EFL learners’ use of reading strategies a significant predictor of their comprehension of argumentative text?
Q16: Is advanced EFL learners’ use of reading strategies a significant predictor of their comprehension of argumentative text?
1.4 Statement of the Research Hypotheses
Based on the above mentioned research questions, the following set of null hypotheses were under investigation in this research:
H0 1: There is no significant relationship between EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and expository text comprehension across different proficiency levels.
H0 2: There is no significant relationship between beginner EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and expository text comprehension.
H0 3: There is no significant relationship between intermediate EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and expository text comprehension.
H0 4: There is no significant relationship between advanced EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and expository text comprehension.
H0 5: There is no significant relationship between EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and argumentative text comprehension across different proficiency levels.
H0 6: There is no significant relationship between beginner EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and argumentative text comprehension.
H0 7: There is no significant relationship between intermediate EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and argumentative text comprehension.
H0 8: There is no significant relationship between advanced EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and argumentative text comprehension.
In case there is a significant relationship between EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and comprehension of expository text across different proficiency levels, the following null hypotheses will be formulated:
H0 9: EFL learners’ use of reading strategies is not a significant predictor of their comprehension of expository text across different proficiency levels.
H0 10: Beginner EFL learners’ use of reading strategies is not a significant predictor of their comprehension of expository text.
H0 11: Intermediate EFL learners’ use of reading strategies is not a significant predictor of their comprehension of expository text.
H0 12: Advanced EFL learners’ use of reading strategies is not a significant predictor of their comprehension of expository text.
In case there is a significant relationship between EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and comprehension of argumentative text across different proficiency levels, the following null hypotheses will be formulated:
H0 13: EFL learners’ use of reading strategies is not a significant predictor of their comprehension of argumentative text across different proficiency levels.
H0 14: Beginner EFL learners’ use of reading strategies is not a significant predictor of their comprehension of argumentative text.
H0 15: Intermediate EFL learners’ use of reading strategies is not a significant predictor of their comprehension of argumentative text.
H0 16: Advanced EFL learners’ use of reading strategies is not a significant predictor of their comprehension of argumentative text.
1.5 Definition of Key Terms
1.5.1 Argumentative text
An argumentative essay is a “paper grounded on logical and structured evidence that attempts to convince the readers to accept an opinion, take some action, or do both” ( Hartaud, Osten, and Reinking, 1993; as cited in Zhu, 2001). In the present study, comprehension of argumentative text was operationally defined as the score that participants got on a reading comprehension test. This test booklet included argumentative passages which were selected from www.englishforeveryone.org. Each level was assigned two passages and each passage was followed by multiple-choices questions. The readability of passages was determined by the Flesch Reading Ease formula. Flesch Reading Ease Formula is considered as one of the oldest and most accurate readability formulas (Dubay, 2004). Rudolph Flesch, developed this formula in 1948.
1.5.2 Expository text
Expository texts usually contain factual or technical information such as cause-effect explanations and procedural directions (Hadley, 1998), having a non-temporal, logically-based, and argumentative structure (Ragnarsdottir, Aparici, Cahana-Amitay, van Hell, & Viguie, 2002). In the present study, comprehension of expository text was operationally defined as the score that participants got on a reading comprehension test. The test booklet included expository passages which were selected from www.englishforeveryone.org. Each level was assigned two passages and each passage was followed by multiple-choices questions. The readability of passages was determined by the Flesch Reading Ease formula.
1.5.3 Proficiency level
Bachman (1990) defines language proficiency as the language ability or ability in language use. Farhady, et al. (1983) stated that the term ‘proficiency’ refers to the examinee’s ability in a particular area of competency in order to determine the extent to which they can function in a real language use situation. In the present study, participants’ proficiency levels were determined by the placement test of the ILI language school.
1.5.4 Reading strategy
“Reading strategies are defined as the behavior that a reader engages in at the time of reading and that is related to some goal. In other words, they are ways of accessing text meaning which are employed flexibly and selectively in the course of reading” (Carter and Nunan, 2001, p.225). In this study, reading strategy was operationally determined by using a reading strategy questionnaire (based on An Inventory of Learning strategies, Oxford, 1990).
The questionnaire comprises 50 items, each item offers 5-point Likert-type responses, ranging from 1 (“never or almost never true of me”) to 5 (“always or almost always true of me”). As learners with different proficiency levels were participated in the present study, the Persian version of Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) (Tahmasebi, 1999) which has been already standardized with Iranian population was used.
1.6 Significance of the Study
Although the English language learning and teaching programs at the Iranian high schools and universities are mostly reading based, little work has been done to enhance and improve this skill among this country’s English learners. Actually, one of the basic problems of the Iranian English learners is the comprehension of the passages given to them in their English textbooks. Unfortunately, a large proportion of Iranian students cannot understand appropriately and even read flawlessly an ordinary text written in English.
Despite all that has just been mentioned about the central role played by the reading skill in the process of language learning, a large percentage of EFL and ESL learners, even in the advanced levels of second language proficiency, fail to do as it should be expected on the English texts (Peretz & Shoham, 1990; Alptekin, 2006). Some researchers attribute this situation to the readers’ insufficient language knowledge and/or the linguistic difficulty of the texts, arguing that they are responsible for the readers’ not comprehending the L2 passages efficiently (Salmani-Nodoushan, 2003; Alderson, 2000). These people believe in the existence of a kind of language threshold (Clarke, 1980; Eskey, 2005) beyond which readers should progress until they can read and comprehend foreign language texts well.
This study was concerned with the application of reading strategies and learners’ comprehension of argumentative and expository texts. The selection of these texts was not random. Chandrasegaran (2008) with regard to the importance of argumentative mode states, the ability to construct supported arguments in English is important for academic success in educational contexts where English is the language of instruction and student assessment is mediated through the academic essay.
Expository and argumentative texts are more difficult than other text types. While most teachers are familiar with the power of the narrative retellings to improve student’s comprehension, they are less experienced with expository retellings. During the last few years, teachers are discovering that the proliferation of excellent children’s informational literature available today can provide a vehicle for teaching children about exposition. Today’s information books contain wonderful examples of well-written exposition and are ideal for exposing even the youngest children to common expository and argumentative text structures.
To sum up, comprehension of expository and argumentative texts is crucial for academic success due to the learners’ unfamiliarity with these two types of text. In order to improve comprehension, teachers can employ reading strategies in their way of teaching. The relationship between reading strategies and expository, argumentative texts can help teachers and also material developer to familiar students with these types of text.
1.7 Limitation, Delimitation and Assumption
Like any other studies, this research faced some limitations, which have to be taken into consideration while attempting to generalize its findings. At the same time, the researcher deemed it necessary to place a delimitation to extend as much as possible the accuracy of its results.
Limitation
According to the ILI’s rules, participants were free to fill out the tests. So, some of them did not answer the test due to different reasons. As a result, the total number of participants decreased. Also, only female participants were included in the study as it is against the regulations of Iranian schools for female teachers to have males in their classrooms and the researcher being a female did not have access to male students.
Delimitation
The researcher deliberately chose SILL reading strategies questionnaire (based on An Inventory of Learning Strategies, Oxford, 1990) among other questionnaires, because it is translated both in English and in Persian. Therefore the Persian version was administered to the learners in order to prevent any misunderstanding especially since the participants were from different proficiency levels.
The participants of this study were all teenagers and adults with the age range of 14-30. As the researcher wanted to investigate the relationship between reading strategies and reading comprehension of expository and argumentative texts, she discarded children from her study as they are not yet proficient in reading and comprehending the text type.
Assumption
It was assumed that all the participants fill out the questionnaire sincerely and attentively. For this reason, the researcher promised to inform them of the result of the questionnaire, and teachers promised an extra class activity point for participants.
CHAPTER II
Review of the Related Literature
2.1 What is reading
It is apparent that one reads for a wide variety of purposes, thus making any global definition of reading is difficult, if not impossible. Establishing a clear definition of reading provides an important perspective for teaching and evaluating approaches. Most educators would agree that the major purpose of reading should be the reconstruction of meaning from a written text,
Widdowson (1979) had argued that successful reading is an act of creation: the reader creates meaning through interaction. He considers reading not as a reaction to a text but as interaction between writer and reader mediated through the text. Alderson and Urquhart (1984) state that the only certain element in a definition of reading is that there is a reader, writer and a text.
Reading has been defined differently by different people at different times. Reading is defined by scholars as the activity of restructuring a reasonable spoken message from a printed text or as translating from written symbols to a form of language to which the person can already attach meanings (Allen & Corder, 1979). Fries (1963) defines reading as “the process of learning to read in one’s native language is the process of transfer auditory signs for language signals which the child has already learned to the new visual signs for the same signals” (p.63).
In Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, reading is defined as “perceiving a written text in order to understand its content. This can be done silently (silent reading) whose understanding results in reading comprehension” (Richards, Platt & Platt, p. 306).
Widdowson (1979) describes reading as “the process of getting linguistic information via print” (p.103), but Alderson and Urquhart (1984) point out that this is a simplification as it is too all-embracing to be of practical use.
Rivers (1981) asserts that “reading is a most important activity in any language class, not only as a source of information and a pleasurable activity, but also as a means of consolidating and extending one’s knowledge of the language” (p.259).
Reading is a receptive skill during which readers decode the message of the writer and try to recreate it anew. Obviously, readers are deeply involved in mental activities which prove that reading like the other skills is an active process (Rashtchi & Keyvanfar; 2002).
Davies (1995) defines reading as a private activity that “is a mental or cognitive process which involves a reader in trying to follow and respond to a message from a writer who is distant in space and time” (p.1).
In an older definition of reading, drawing on audio-lingual theoretical framework, Paulston & Bruder (1976) state that reading is considered decoding speech written down, a skill which would naturally transfer from a command of the oral skills which are the major focus of audio-lingual programs.
Given the progress made in understanding the nature of the reading process, this mechanistic definition of reading as translation of printed symbols into oral language equivalent seems incomplete. There is widespread agreement that without the activation of relevant prior knowledge by the reader and mixing of that knowledge with the text information, there can be no reading of text.
Ur (1996) defines reading as “reading and understanding”. He further adds that ‘a foreign language learner who says “I can read the words but I do not know what they means’ is not, therefore, reading in this sense. He or she is merely decoding or translating written symbols into corresponding sounds” (p.138). Further, Chastain (1988) defines reading as receptive skill in that the reader is receiving a message from a writer. He further stresses that there is the implication of an active reader who intend upon using background knowledge and skills to recreate the writer’s intended meaning in the description of reading process. Perfetti (1984, pp. 40-41, cited in Chastain, 1988), defines reading as “thinking guided by print”.
Goodman (1973) has taken reading as the process of constructing meaning through a dynamic interaction among 1) the reader’s existing knowledge; 2) the information suggested by the text being read; 3) the context of the reading situation. “The reader, a user of language, interacts with the graphic input as he seeks to reconstruct a message encoded by the writer” (p.64). He (cited in Paulston & Bruder, 1976, p.158) concentrates his total prior experience and learning on the task, drawing on his experiences and concepts he has attained as well as the language competence he has achieved.
In more elaborated terms, Eskey (1988) defines reading comprehension as a constant interaction between bottom-up and top-down processing, each source of information contributing to a comprehensive reconstruction of the meaning of the text. In his model “interactive” refers to the interaction between the information provided by means of top-down analyzing, and bottom-up decoding, both of which depend on certain kinds of prior knowledge and certain kinds of information-processing skills. He views readers as both decoders and good interpreters of texts, their decoding skills becoming more automatic but no less important as their reading skills develop. He defines reading comprehension as a constant interaction okayed by the incoming data.
Whereas top-down processing occurs as the system makes general predictions based on higher level, general schemata and then searches the input for information to fit into these partially satisfied, higher order schemata (Carrel & Eisterhold, 1988).
2.1.1 Importance of Reading
Most scholars would agree that reading is one of the most important skills for educational and professional success (Alderson, 1984). In highlighting the importance of reading comprehension Rivers (1981) stated that “reading is the most important activity in any language class, not only as a source of information and a pleasurable activity, but also as a means of consolidating and extending one’s knowledge of the language” (p.259).
According to Thorndike (1917) the role of the reader is not a passive one, simply
recording the knowledge contained exclusively in the text, but that of an active participator or
problem solver. Thorndike concluded that:
In educational theory, then, we should not consider the reading of a
text-book or reference as a mechanical or passive, undiscriminating
task, on a totally different level from the task of evaluating or using
what is read. While the work of judging and applying doubtless



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