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Location of the Topic Sentence, Level of Language Proficiency, and Reading Comprehension

Location of the Topic Sentence, Level of Language Proficiency, and Reading Comprehension,Hossein Farhady

Location of the Topic Sentence, Level of Language Proficiency, and Reading Comprehension  
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Research on reading comprehension supports the contribution of the topic sentence to better understanding of the paragraph by EFL readers. However, the level of language proficiency, which has recently been recognized as an interacting factor with many language processing tasks, has not been taken into account in previous research. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between the location of the topic sentence in a paragraph and the degree of reading comprehension at different levels of language proficiency. One hundred and eighty four undergraduate English majors were randomly selected and divided into two groups of high and low proficiency through the Michigan language proficiency test. Two reading comprehension tests corresponding to each level of language proficiency were developed. Each test consisted of 9 passages of which three passages had the topic sentence at the beginning, three passages in the middle, and three passages at the end. The tests were administered under strict testing conditions. The results revealed an interaction between the level of proficiency, the location of the topic sentence, and the degree of reading comprehension. That is, at the high level of proficiency, the location of the topic sentence did not significantly influence the performance of the students, whereas at the low proficiency level, the comprehension of the text was enhanced when the topic sentence was at the beginning of the paragraph. Further details of the findings will be discussed and implications and applications to various areas of applied linguistics will be presented.
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