Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 11. Number2  June 2020                                        Pp. 383-394

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The Effect of Cultural Schemata on EFL Learners’ Reading Comprehension


Hiba Bensalah
Department of English, Faculty of Foreign Languages
Abdelhamid Ibn Badis University
Mostaganem, Algeria

Noureddine Gueroudj
Department of English, Faculty of Letters, Languages, and Arts
Djilali Liabès University
Sidi-Bel Abbès, Algeria



This research study aims to investigate the impact of cultural schemata on the process of reading culturally- loaded texts, and whether the use of pre-reading activities recompenses for the absence of cultural familiarity. In this regard, EFL readers bring to the text a wide range of experiences. Consequently, such diversity of prior knowledge influences their perception and interpretation of foreign language texts. Here comes the role of cultural schemata, which is indeed a very critical role. How do cultural differences in background knowledge influence student’s reading comprehension ability? To recognize the effect of cultural schemata on comprehension, it is essential first to understand the significant role that background knowledge plays in the reading process. Therefore, to carry out this research, a selection of reading comprehension tests was assigned for an experimental and a control group in a quasi-classroom experiment of first-year EFL students at Ibn Khaldoun University (Tiaret). While the experimental group was provided with pre-reading tasks to activate their background knowledge, the control group received no treatment. We collected data from 40 participants, and the results show that many EFL learners belonging to the control group display a lack of cultural schemata since their prior-knowledge is not activated, which may well impact negatively on their reading practices. By contrast, participants of the experimental group performed better in the comprehension test than those in the control group. In brief, there is a correlation between activating students’ background knowledge and the increase of reading comprehension ability.
Keywordscultural schemata, conceptual knowledge, interactive process, reading comprehension, schema theory

Cite as: Bensalah, H. , & Gueroudj, N. (2020). The Effect of Cultural Schemata on EFL Learners’ Reading Comprehension Ability.Arab World English Journal11 (2) 383-394.


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Hiba Bensalah is a high school teacher of English. She holds a masters’ degree in Applied
Linguistics and didactics form the University of Mostaganem, Algeria, as she is currently
undertaking doctoral research in Didactics and Applied linguistics. Her main areas of inquiry are
applied linguistics.

Prof. Noureddine Guerroudj is a lecturer in English at the University of Sidi Bel Abbes, in the
West of Algeria, and a president of the scientific committee of foreign languages’ faculty at thsame university. Prof. Guerrodj is also an editor-in-chief of the Languages and Arts Journal
founded by Sidi Bel Abbes University. His main areas of interest include Applied Linguistics.