The impact of visual-verbal relationships on native-nonnative english speakers' reading processes and comprehension
The aim of this study was to comparatively investigate the impact of visual-verbal relationships that exist in expository texts on the reading process and comprehension of readers from different language background: native speakers of English (LI) and speakers of English as a foreign language (EFL). The study focussed, in this respect, on the visual elements (VEs) mainly graphs and tables that accompanied the selected texts. Two major experiments were undertaken. The first, was for the reading process using the post-reading questionnaire technique. Participants were 163 adult readers representing three groups: 77 (LI), 56 (EFL postgraduates); and 30 (EFL undergraduates). The second experiment was for the reading comprehension using cloze procedure. Participants were 123 representing the same above gorups: 50, 33 and 40 respectively. It was hypothesised that the LI readers would make use of VEs in the reading process in ways different from both EFL groups and that use would enhance each group's comprehension in different aspects and to different levels. In the analysis of the data of both experiments two statistical measurements were used. The chi-square was used to measure the differences between frequencies and the t-test was used to measure the differences between means. The results indicated a significant relationship between readers' language background and the impact of visual-verbal relationships on their reading processes and comprehension of such type of texts. The results also revealed considerable similarities between the two EFL groups in the reading process of texts accompanied by VEs. In the reading comprehension, however, the EFL undergraduates seemed to benefit from the visual-verbal relationships in their comprehension more than the postgraduates, suggesting a weak relationship of this impact for older EFL readers. Furthermore, the results showed considerable similarities between the reading process of texts accompanied by VEs and of whole prose texts. Finally an evaluation of this study was undertaken as well as practical implications for EFL readers and suggestions for future research.