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Title: ESP reading materials and schema theory
Author: Terzoglou, Elli
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 1996
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The topic I chose for my dissertation is: ‘ESP reading materials and schema theory', as it is relevant to what I teach. I have been teaching ESP at TEI (Technological Educational Institution) of Athens, Faculty of Health and Caring Professions, Department of Midwifery for ten years and no ready made materials are available to suit most students needs. Students taking ESP courses do not constitute a homogeneous group in terms of background, needs, interests or proficiency in English. My students are third year ESP students at the Midwifery Department of the TEI of Athens. Their age ranges between eighteen and twenty four. Almost all of them have studied English for six years at high school and most of them have got their first Certificate in English. In an attempt to specify the learners’ level and language needs, a diagnostic test is given to them at the beginning of the course. The results of the test have shown that the learners’ level varies ranging from upper - intermediate to advanced. In addition to different levels of proficiency, heterogeneity also characterizes the particular learners’ aims and demands, therefore, I have to balance and weigh priorities considered to be of relative importance and design materials representative of what the learners will have to deal with after the course is over. As it usually becomes apparent from a needs analysis conducted every year, the students are interested in reading skills, because these are the skills which will be useful to them, after they complete their studies. The needs analysis data point to the need for a syllabus with the aim of increasing the learners’ ability to use manuals as well as reference bibliography related to their special field of study. This in line with the curriculum in which reading covers 80% of the syllabus usually taught, while the other 20% is devoted to writing. In general, as the aim of my students is to improve their reading skills to meet their needs and problems expressed in their needs analysis, every effort should be made to help them to be competent readers. To improve their English through reading, they should be able to handle unfamiliar texts and be able to understand enough of the text to suit their purpose. My focus thus will be on a reading syllabus, as this has been derived from the needs analysis data and my major concern will be to equip them with reading skills needed for comprehension, by focussing on tasks that encourage understanding the main idea of the text, deducing information, predicting the content, inferencing, recognition of discourse devices, etc. while writing will comprize the production of short reports and paraphrasing. Since my students have fluency in English (i.e. their level ranges from upper - intermediate to advanced), I will rely on the principles of schema theory and on schema - based strategies to develop ESP reading materials. Schema theory (Bartlett 1932, Rumelhart and Ortony 1977, Rumelhart 1980, Carrell 1983, Carrell at al 1988) based on the role of background knowledge in the reader’s ability to make sense of the text, is one of the most influential theories dealing with reading as an active skill (Goodman, 1975, Samuels and Kamil, 1984 in Carrell at al, 1988). According to Grabe (1988) ‘the reading process is not simply a matter of extracting information from the text. Rather, it is one in which the reading activates a range of knowledge in the reader’s mind that he or she uses, and that, in turn, may be refined and extended by the new information supplied by the text’. Therefore, reading is both a perceptual and cognitive process, thus involving exploitation of both systemic and schematic knowledge. In other words, reading involves not only realising what information is implied in terms of linguistic symbols (i.e. systemic knowledge), but also attempting to understand what information is implied in terms of inferences and predictions (i. e. schematic knowledge). The reader equipped with schematic knowledge is not only enabled to read ‘between the lines’ but also to assign membership to new information by subsuming it to concepts already stored in mind. Since the focal point of reading is that the readers extract the message the language expresses, schema - theory can be of great importance in enabling them to build bridges between the known and the unknown and between the given and the implied, by interpreting far more than the lines displayed on the page.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available