Topic congruence and topic interest: How do they affect second language reading comprehension?

Lee, Sang-Ki
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University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center
Center for Language & Technology
Because human memory is largely reconstructive, people tend to reorganize and reevaluate an event in a way that is coherent to the truth values held in their belief system. This study investigated the role of topic congruence (defined as whether the reading content corresponds with readers’ prior beliefs towards a contentious topic) in second language (L2) reading comprehension. In addition to the main variable, topic congruence, the role of topic interest was also explored. Sixty Korean native readers in the US and Korea read two argumentative passages in English, one discussing the pros of voluntary euthanasia, the other presenting the cons. Quality analysis of immediate recall protocols, defined as relative amount of higher and lower levels of information units correctly remembered, was performed by a repeated-measures multivariate analysis of variance. The results showed that topic congruence and topic interest affected the L2 readers’ recall of lower-level textual information in complex ways.
topic congruence, topic interest, L2 reading, reader belief, reader attitude, Korean EFL or ESL learners
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