Second Language Readers' Memory for Narrative Texts: Evidence for Structure‐Preserving Top‐Down Processing

Yukie Horiba, Paul W. van den Broek, Charles R Fletcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study assessed the role that structural properties of texts play in the mental representations of second‐language (L2) readers. In particular, we investigated the extent to which 47 L2 readers of English used structural properties of a text (causal factors, story‐grammar category, and hierarchical level) to “fill in” gaps in their mental representations. L2 readers' recall protocols of narrative texts were analyzed and compared with those of 72 L1 readers of English using two scoring criteria: meaning‐preserving and structure‐preserving. The first credits information that is either verbatim or a close paraphrase of the original textual information; the second credits information that fulfills the same structural function as the original text unit. We found that L2 readers' structure‐preserving recalls were substantially higher than were their meaning‐preserving recalls, and that the effects of particular structural properties (i.e., causal connections and story‐grammar category) interacted with the scoring criterion. These results indicate that these L2 readers used top‐ down processing to preserve the structural integrity of a text.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-372
Number of pages28
JournalLanguage Learning
Volume43
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1993

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