Schema Theory and English Reading Teaching in Rural Junior Middle Schools
|School||Shandong Normal University|
|Keywords||schema theory English reading teaching rural junior middle schools|
In English learning, students are required to master four basic language skills,namely listening, speaking, reading and writing (English curriculum standard, 2001). It may be difficult to single out only one language skill that is more important than the others, but if we have to make a choice, comprehension would be a“prime contender for the honor”(Reed ,1982:257), because much of what people learn depends on their ability to comprehend or understand written materials. That is why Carrell (1988) claimed that the most important purpose to learn a foreign Language is to read. However, it is very difficult for students to improve reading comprehension in an efficient way, for the rural students, the situation is even worse. Besides new words and grammar, in some way, the rural students are often lack of various knowledge, such as culture knowledge, geography knowledge, science knowledge and so on. Therefore, in their reading practice, the rural students often feel hard to get accurate meaning and information.Schema theory is of much concern in the field of EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teaching in recent years. Schema also could be named frame, script or background knowledge (kramsch 1993). Bartlett (1932) was the first person that explored the function of schema in the process of reading. In his classical book Remembering (1932:201), the term schema refers to“an active organization of past reactions or past experience”. In the 1980s, schema theory has developed into one of the most important parts of reading theory (Carrell & Esterhold, 1983), which clearly points out that people come to understand new information by activating their relevant schemata in their mind.Many scholars and researchers abroad have conducted various researches, which indicate that the application of schema theory is quite successful in improving reading comprehension. In China, however, most researches on schema theory have been done only in colleges and universities, while few researches focused on middle schools, especially rural middle schools. Thus few people pay close attention to the development of rural students’reading ability. As the English teacher of a local rural middle school, the author has the chance to study in Shandong Normal University for Master Degree, and during this study, the author has read many books and academic articles about schema theory which is of much concern in the field of EFL reading in recent years. Supported by schema theory, this study attempts to apply schema theory to English reading teaching in the hope of improving the present situation of rural middle schools. Therefore, the author carried out this study trying to apply the schema theory to English reading teaching, focusing on rural middle schools’research. This study is aimed to address the following questions: 1. Whether schema theory could be applied to rural middle schools’English reading teaching; 2. With the application of schema theory, how effective it is in improving the rural students’reading ability; 3. How to apply schema theory to rural middle schools’English reading teaching.The experiment was carried out from September to December, 2006. Two intact classes were selected randomly from Grade Three of Shanggao Middle school. Schema-oriented teaching method was applied in the experimental class (Class one), while the traditional teaching method was used in the control class (Class two). Data collection involved both scores of pretest and posttest, questionnaire surveys, and the data was analyzed by SPSS. The data analysis is focused on 1) differences between the scores of pre-test and post-test of high-score group/ low-score group; 2) differences between the experimental class and the control class before and after the experiment.The results of research reveal that the students in the experimental class have improved their English reading ability more rapidly than those in the control class. At the same time, both the students in high-score group and the students in low-score group have got great improvement in English reading during this experiment.The study demonstrates that schema-oriented teaching model is of great value in improving rural students’English reading comprehension. Through building new schema, the students’reading efficiency can be actively developed. It is hoped that this study will shed light on English reading teaching in rural middle schools.