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Readability Formulas and Cohesive Markers in Reading Comprehension

Author(s): Abbas Ali Rezaee | Mohammad Hussein Norouzi

Journal: Theory and Practice in Language Studies
ISSN 1799-2591

Volume: 1;
Issue: 8;
Start page: 1005;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: cohesion markers | performance | proficiency | readability formulas | reading comprehension | reading materials

Matching reading materials to learners with the appropriate level of proficiency has been the focus of attention for many scholars. To this end, readability formulas have been developed. Despite being efficient and user friendly, the formulas have not been able to stand to the test of research, thus undergoing some criticism on the grounds that they are not sensitive to the modification in the factors they are based on. Furthermore, they fail to consider other factors which play roles in the comprehension of written materials. Some scholars, based on such criticisms, have noticed the absence of some factors in readability formulas. Some of these factors are cultural origin, structure of theme and core/non-core words, and conjunctions. The present study constitutes an attempt to investigate the relationship between readability of written materials and the learners’ performance at two proficiency levels of intermediate and advanced, the relationship between cohesion markers (grammatical markers, conjunctions and lexical markers) and the readability of written materials, and also the relationship between these cohesion markers and the performance of learners of English as a foreign language at the two aforementioned proficiency levels. To calculate the readability of the material, two prominent readability formulas, Flesch and Fog Index, were employed. The results indicated a significant correlation between the readability of passages and the learners’ performance at both levels. Only grammatical cohesion markers were shown to be significantly correlated with the readability of the written materials. The learners’ performance correlated significantly with grammatical cohesion markers at intermediate level and with lexical cohesion markers at advanced level.
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