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An Investigation of the Effects of Cultural Background Knowledge on English Reading of Senior High School Students

Author: Li
Tutor: SongShiTong
School: Northeast Normal University
Course: English Curriculum and Pedagogy
Keywords: cultural background knowledge English reading comprehension senior school students influence
CLC: G633.41
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2010
Downloads: 546
Quote: 0
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Abstract


In recent years, in foreign language teaching teachers may find that students make comprehension mistakes when reading English texts. This problem has attracted more and more attention. This kind of understanding error or comprehension barrier that students have when they do reading closely relates to the cultural differences between Chinese and English. In fact, English reading comprehension is a cross-cultural communication, and the familiarity with the target language culture background is the premise of students’successful EFL reading comprehension. When students do the foreign language reading comprehension, their task is not only to acquire knowledge, but to communicate cross-culturally. Students can critically absorb the cultural heritage in the target language while reading. When students do English reading comprehension, many teachers learn that they might not understand what a sentence really means or what a paragraph is mainly about, even though they know every single word and can understand all the grammatical structures in sentences of the paragraph. This can be explained as the result of their ignorance of the social implications and backgrounds of the English words.At present, many researches on cultural background teaching have been conducted for a long time. In language teaching, it is a commonplace to stress the importance of cultural background teaching, but in real language class, cultural teaching has remained quite limited。In recent years, English teachers have gradually realized the important relationship between culture background knowledge and teaching foreign languages. However, while teaching reading comprehension, a number of teachers only emphasize language points, yet neglect the cultural background knowledge of the passage. Obviously, this kind of teaching method is not very helpful to improve students’reading ability to comprehend the text. The purpose of this thesis is to make teachers realize the importance of cultural background knowledge in reading comprehension, to make teachers pay more attention to the importance of cultural background in reading comprehension and to offer specific solving ways to actual problems in reading teaching, to let students benefit from this kind of cultural teaching.In order to complete the study of this thesis, research instruments, a quiz and questionnaire, are applied, whose content are designed based on senior school English textbooks. The test and the questionnaire cover culture background knowledge of history, custom, geography, literature, religion and political system in English-speaking countries. The students who are investigated are all from No.2 Senior High School and No.17 Senior High School. The results of this study convey the message that student’ learning are restricted to the language knowledge and they lack cultural background knowledge. Here are the problems:1) students’cultural background knowledge involved in textbooks is limited.2) students fix more attention on knowledge from textbooks instead of on extracurricular information 3) the sources of students’learning cultural background knowledge are limited and restricted by the teacher’s proficiency of knowledge in this field.As a senior school English teacher, with English teaching experience for many years, I hope this study could provide some suggestions for English learning in the future.1) Teachers should change the old teaching concept, and pay equal attention to the language knowledge and cultural knowledge.2) Teachers should change the teaching method, and emphasize the cross-cultural and communication teaching.3) Teachers should improve the teaching method with the aid of media, and broaden the channel of cultural background knowledge input.4) Students should broaden their mind, and increase the chance of cross-cultural knowledge input.5) Teachers and students should work together, and select the culture background material with strong authenticity, and cultivate students’ ability to read material independently.Culture background learning is a necessity in language learning, because. language and culture shouldn’t be separated. This thesis clarifies the importance of culture background in language learning through the study of the knowledge of culture background and the practical activities in English reading comprehension class, analyses the influence that culture background has on reading ability, and explores the available approach that students can gain in culture background knowledge learning.

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CLC: > Culture, science,education, sports > Education > Secondary education > Subjects teaching methods, teaching aids > Foreign language > English
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