A Schema Theoretic View

Topics: Reading, Dyslexia, Orthography Pages: 11 (3989 words) Published: March 6, 2013
English Language has been widely spoken and used all over the world. With the world becoming smaller due to globalisation, English Language has become the second language in Malaysia, used in everyday conversation among family, friends and colleagues. Therefore, English Language is a compulsory subject taught at all levels in every Malaysian school based on four skills, listening, speaking, reading and writing where reading plays an important role. In this essay, there were six studies on schema-theoretic view of reading in English as a second language in Malaysia.

Reading can be defined as an interactive process for reading to construct a meaningful presentation of text using their schemata. It is an important concept in EFL teaching and reading tasks are designed to activate the learners’ schemata. Reading usually is between the reader and the text. Therefore, for English learners, reading is a basic and important criterion to improve their reading ability. Reading comprehension is a purpose for the readers to get the correct message from a text written by the writer. It is also one of the main purposes of ESL teaching and learning.

Schema? What is schema? According to Abbas Pourhosein Gilakjani and Seyedeh Masoumeh Ahmadi cited in Anderson and Pearson(2011) that a reader’s schema or knowledge had already stored in their memory, function in the process of interpreting new information and allowing it to enter and become part of the knowledge store. They also stated that schema is an abstract knowledge structure and it was structured to represent relationships among its component parts. Schema is the plural form that refers to an individual’s background knowledge. A schema is also the singular forms that refer to one chunk of knowledge.

Meanwhile, schema theory is a reading process where readers combined their previous knowledge with the text they are reading. According to Rumelhart (1980), schema theory is basically a theory of how knowledge is mentally represented in the mind and used. A gestalt psychologist, Bartlett(1932) believed that our memories of discourse was constructive which uses information from the encountered discourse, together with knowledge from past experience related to the discourse to build a mental representation. All in all, schema-theoretic research highlights the readers’ problem related to absent or alternate schema, as well as no-activation of schema and the overuse of background knowledge.

Actually, this theory has come a long way throughout the history. It is said that schema theory is not a new idea by Tim Daly, because it have been mentioned during the Plato era. According to Parviz Ajideh (2003), Plato had elaborated the Greek tenets of ideal types as the perfect circle that exists in the mind but no one has ever seen. In 1781, Immanuel Kant, 18th century philosopher, developed the idea and introduced the word schema, where he speaks of the innate structure which organize the world. Therefore, the schema concept has already been found in his writings. Then, Barlett developed the schema by proposing a completely new form of mental representation. It was unlucky for him because his proposal was made during the behaviourism period where mental existences were to be excluded from scientific psychology in 1920. But, he continued his study by gathering data on human memory. In 1932, Barlett published his book, Remembering, after he spent time interacting with Henry Head, a neurologist. In his book, Barlett presumed that a person understanding and remembrance of events is shaped by their prior knowledge. Due to lack of precise definition, his ideas were swept aside during the behaviourism period. Parviz Ajideh (2003) cited Khemlani and Lyne (2000) that since the late 1960s, a number of theorists had developed interactive theory where reading plays an important role of the reader and the knowledge he or she brings to bear on the text in...
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