Comprehending a Culturally Unfamiliar Text: The Role of Pre-reading Activities

Syed Md Golam Faruk, Syeda Shabnam Mahmud

Abstract


The paper investigates whether the cultural unfamiliarity is a hindrance to reading comprehension or not and, if this is a barrier, whether pre-reading activities can be of any help to overcome it. The study was conducted with 19 foundation English course students at a private university in Bangladesh collecting data from their two consecutive reading comprehension classes. Two texts—one is about “ragging” of which each of the students had direct practical experience, and the other is about Halloween of which some of them had some vague ideas through movies and internet—were used as teaching materials following the same kind of pre, while, and post reading activities. The reading comprehension tests confirmed what had been widely acknowledged as the negative effect of cultural unfamiliarity on reading comprehension and showed that the pre-reading activities were useful to turn the negative effect into positive ones. However, the pre-reading activities were not equally useful for all the students; the positive impact of the activities was obvious only in the motivated students’ performance.

Keywords


Reading comprehension, Pre-reading activity, Cultural familiarity, Cultural unfamiliarity.

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