Schema Theory and Language Comprehension

Carrell, Patricia L.
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Comprehending a text is not simply a function of the text itself--the text alone does not carry the meaning to be conveyed (Bennett-Kastor, 1981). The listeners or readers of a text make a significant contribution to the meaning conveyed. A text provides directions for listeners/readers as to how they should retrieve, or construct the intended meaning from their own, previously acquired knowledge. Comprehension is the interactive process between the listener/reader's background knowledge and the text. Recent research in discourse comprehension has shown that background or schematic knowledge plays an essential role in the psychological processes by which listeners or readers comprehend. This paper reviews the most important. work on the role of schemata in language comprehension, including both theoretical and empirical research. The latter includes first language research among fully proficient adult native speakers of English and among children in the process of acquiring English as ·their native language, as well as cross-cultural research and second language research.
background knowledge, schematic knowledge, comprehension istening, comprehension reading, first language, esl
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