Mapping Different Culturally Oriented Texts over EFL Learners’ Reading Indices via Project-Based Learning

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Literature, Languages and History, Alzahra University, Tehran, Iran University

2 Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Literature, Languages and History, Alzahra University

3 English department, Sabzevar branch, Islamic Azad University, Sabzevar, Iran



The present article made attempts to examine the implementation of diverse culturally-loaded materials among some EFL university students to see their impact on foreign language reading anxiety, reading comprehension self-efficacy and reading proficiency of the learners via two constructed teaching schemes that were labeled project- and teacher- based teaching methods. The investigation was conducted with four classes of freshmen majoring in English Language Teaching, each focusing on different culturally oriented materials (i.e., L1 culture for project based class A, L2 culture for project based class B, and L1 and L2 cultures for project- and teacher-based classes C and D). Self-Efficacy for Learning and Performance subscale, Foreign Language Reading Anxiety Scale, and the reading section of the Michigan Test were applied as pre-tests and post-tests in this study. Paired samples t-tests and ANCOVA were utilized for analyzing the data. The findings showed that despite considerable decreases observed in reading anxiety levels towards the end of the treatment in classes A, C, and D, significant improvement was actually evident in the L2 culturally oriented class. Moreover, though in classes A, B, and C, significant improvements were observed regarding reading self-efficacy and reading proficiency from pretest to posttest, no differences regarding the two variables were observed among the classes. Meanwhile, class C outperformed class D with respect to the two aforementioned variables. The results could carry certain implications for EFL material developers, teachers, curriculum and syllabus designers, among others, with respect to the choice of learning materials and teaching methodologies.


Article Title [فارسی]

بررسی تاثیر متون فرهنگی متفاوت بر روی شاخصهای مهارت خواندن فراگیران زبان انگلیسی به عنوان زبان خارجی در یادگیری پروژه محور

Authors [فارسی]

  • زهره نفیسی 1
  • فرنوش کریمی 2
  • مرجان وثوقی 3
1 استادیار دانشگاه الزهرا (س)
2 استادیار دانشگاه الزهرا (س)
3 استادیار دانشگاه آزاد سبزوار
Abstract [فارسی]

این مقاله سعی داشته تا تاثیر استفاده از مطالب درسی فرهنگی متفاوت را روی اضطراب در خواندن، خودکارایی در درک مطلب خواندن و مهارت خواندن تعدادی از دانشجویان زبان انگلیسی به عنوان زبان خارجی را از طریق دو روش آموزشی پروژه و معلم محور بررسی نماید. این تحقیق بر روی چهار کلاس از دانشجویان سال اولی در رشته آموزش زبان انگلیسی انجام گردید. تمرکز درسی هر یک از این کلاسها روی متون فرهنگی متفاوت بود (یعنی کلاس پروژه محور آ روی فرهنگ زبان اول، کلاس پروژه محور ب روی فرهنگ زبان دوم ، و کلاسهای پروژه محورو معلم محور ج و د روی فرهنگ هر دو زبان تمرکز داشتند). پرسشنامه های خودکارایی در یادگیری و عملکرد و اضطراب در خواندن و بخش درک مطلب تست میشیگان به عنوان پیش آزمون و پس آزمون در این تحقیق مورد استفاده قرار گرفتند. ازتستهای نمونه جفتی تی و آنکوا به منظور تحلیل داده ها استفاده گردید. نتایج نشانگر این حقیقت بودند که بر خلاف کلاسهای آ، ج و د که در آنها کاهش چشمگیری در میزان اضطراب در خواندن در انتهای دوره تحقیق مشاهده گردید، در کلاس مبتنی بر فرهنگ زبان دوم یا همان کلاس ب افزایش این اضطراب کشف شد. به علاوه اگرچه پیشرفتهای چشمگیری در خودکارایی و مهارت خواندن از پیش آزمون تا پس آزمون در دانشجویان کلاسهای آ، ب و ج دیده شد، هیچ تفاوت قابل ملاحظه ای بین این گروهها با توجه به این دو متغیر وجود نداشت. این در حالی است که کلاس پروژه محور ج از کلاس معلم محور د در هردو متغیر به طور چشمگیری پیشی گرفت. نتایج به دست آمده در این مطالعه میتوانند ارائه گر توصیه هایی خاص به مدرسان زبان انگلیسی به عنوان زبان خارجه، نویسندگان کتب درسی و طراحان برنامه های درسی در هنگام انتخاب مطالب درسی و یا شیوه های آموزشی مناسب باشند.

Keywords [فارسی]

  • متون فرهنگی
  • اضطراب در خواندن زبان خارجه
  • خودکارآیی در درک مطلب خواندن
  • مهارت خواندن
  • یادگیری پروژه محور
Abdullah, M. H. (1998). Problem-based learning in language instruction: A constructivist model. Eric Digest. Retrieved from
Ader, E., & Erktin, E. (2010). Coping as self-regulation of anxiety: A model for math achievement in high-stakes tests. Cognition, Brain, Behavior, 14, 311-332.
Alderson, J. C. (2000). Assessing reading. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Al-Issa, A. (2006). Schema theory and L2 reading comprehension: Implication for teaching. Journal of College Teaching & Learning, 3(7), 41-48.
Alptekin, C. (2006). Cultural familiarity in inferential and literal comprehension in L2 reading. System, 34(4), 494-508.
Al-Shboul, M. M., Sheikh Ahmad, I., Sahari Nordin, M., & Abdul Rahman, Z. (2013). Foreign language reading anxiety in a Jordanian EFL context: A qualitative study. English Language Teaching, 6(6), 38-56.
Ashraf, H., Motallebzadeh, K., & Kafi, Z. (2013). On the relation between English textbooks and Iranian EFL learners' acculturation. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 3(9), 1658-1666.
Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Bandura, A. (1988). Organizational applications of social cognitive theory. Australian Journal of Management, 13(2), 275-302.
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of comparison. New York, NY: Freeman.
Blank, W. (1997). Authentic instruction. In Blank, W. E. & Harwell, S. (Eds.), Promising practices for connecting high school to the real world. Tampa, FL: University of South Florida.
Boaler, J. (1997). Experiencing school mathematics: Teaching styles, sex, and settings. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.
Brantmeier, C. (2004). Building a comprehensive theory of adult foreign language reading: A variety of variables and research methods. The Southern Journal of Linguistics, 27, 1-7.
Brock, M. N. (1990). The case for localized literature in the ESL classroom. English Teaching Forum, 28(3), 22-25.  
Brooks, N. (1986). Culture in the classroom. In J. M. Valdes (Ed.), Culture bound: Bridging the cultural gap in language teaching (pp. 123-128). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Brown, H.D. (2001). Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to language pedagogy. White Plains, NY: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.
Brown, H. D. (2007). Principles of language learning and teaching. New York, NY: Pearson Education. 
Carrell, P. L. (1988). Some causes of text-boundedness and schema interference in ESL reading. In P. L. Carrell, J. Devine, & D. E. Eskey (Eds.), Interactive approaches to second language reading (pp. 101-113). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. 
Chastain. K. (1988). Developing second language skills: Theory and practice. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Brace Janovich Publishers.
Choudhury, R. U. (2014). The role of culture in teaching and learning of English as a foreign language. Express, an International Journal of Multi Disciplinary Research, 1(4), 1-20.
Christiansen, M. S., & Silva, D. (2016). Teaching culture in EFL classrooms in Mexico: Current practices and pedagogical recommendations. MEXTESOL Journal, 40(2), 1-13. 
Chu, S. K. W., Tse, S. K., Loh, E. K. Y., & Chow, K. (2011). Collaborative inquiry project-based learning: Effects on reading ability and interests. Library & Information Science Research, 33(3), 236-243.
Cortazzi, M. & Jin, L. (1999). Cultural mirrors: Materials and methods in the EFL classroom. In E. Hinkel (Ed.), Culture in second language teaching and learning (pp. 149-176). Cambridge: Cambridge University press.
Davoudi, M., & Ramezani, H. (2014). The effects of cultural familiarity on reading comprehension of Iranian EFL learners. International Journal on Studies in English Language and Literature, 2(8), 58-71.
Dema, O., & Moeller, A J. (2012). Teaching culture in the 21st century language classroom. Faculty Publications: Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education. Paper 181. Retrieved from
Demir, Y. (2012). The effect of background knowledge and cultural nativization on reading comprehension and vocabulary inference. Journal of Educational and Instructional Studies in the World, 2(4), 188-198.
Donnelly, R., & Fitzmaurice, M. (2005). Collaborative project-based learning and problem-based learning in higher education: A consideration of tutor and student roles in learner-focused strategies. Emerging Issues in the Practice of University Learning and Teaching. Dublin: AISHE, pp. 87-98.
English, M. C., & Kitsantas, A. (2013). Supporting student self-regulated learning in problem- and project-based learning. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning, 7(2), 128-150.
Erten, I. H., & Razi, S. (2009). The effects of cultural familiarity on reading comprehension. Reading in a Foreign Language, 21(1), 60-77.
Flesch, R. F. (1984). A New Readability Yardstick. Journal of Applied Psychology,32, 221-223.
Foshay, J. D. (1999). Project-based multimedia instruction. Bloomington, IN: Phi Delta Kappan International.
Ghonsooly, B. & Elahi, M. (2011). Learners’ self-efficacy in reading and its relation to foreign language reading anxiety and reading achievement. Journal of English Language Teaching and Learning, 217, 45-67.
Gulbinskienė, D., & Lasauskienė, R. (2014). Intercultural communicative competence (ICC) of EFL students at university level. Žmogus ir žodis / Svetimosios kalbos, 16(3), 150-159.
Hasselgreen, A. (2003). Towards the assessment of intercultural competence. In A. Hasselgreen (Ed.), Bergen 'Can do' project. (Graz: C Council of Europe Publishing), 45-55.
Jalilifar, A. R., & Assi, R. (2008). The role of cultural nativization in comprehension of short stories in EFL reading contexts. The International Journal of Language, Society and Culture, 26, 62-79.
Jalongo, M. R., & Hirsh, R. A. (2010). Understanding Reading Anxiety: New Insights from Neuroscience. Early Childhood Education Journal, 37, 431-435.         
Kavlu, A. (2015). The effect of project-based learning on undergraduate EFL students' reading comprehension ability. Journal of Education in Black Sea Region, 1(1), 39-44.
Ketchum, E. M. (2006). The cultural baggage of second language reading: An approach to understanding. Foreign Language Annals, 39, 24-42.
Kramsch, C. (1998). Language and culture: Oxford introductions to language studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lier, L. V. (2007). Action-based teaching, autonomy and identity. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 1(1), 46-65.
Lindsay, C., & Knight, P. (2006). Learning and teaching English: A course for teachers. Oxford: Oxford University Press.  
Liu, Y. C. (2015). The perception of cultural familiarity and background knowledge on reading comprehension for intermediate EFL students. International Journal of Language and Literature, 3(1), 71-75.
Mangubhai, F. (1990). Towards a taxonomy of strategies used by ESL readers of varying proficiencies while doing cloze exercises. Australian Journal of Reading, 13(2), 128-139.
Martinez, C. T., Kock, N., & Cass, J. (2011). Pain and pleasure in short essay writing: factors predicting university students’ writing anxiety and writing self-efficacy. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(5), 351-360.
Meyer, D. K. (1997). Challenge in a mathematics classroom: Students’ motivation and strategies in project-based learning. The Elementary School Journal, 97(5), 501-521.
Miller, D. (2002). Reading with meaning. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.
Mills, N., Pajares, F., & Herron, C. (2006). A reevaluation of the role of anxiety: Self-efficacy, anxiety, and their relation to reading and listening proficiency. Foreign Language Annals, 39, 273-292.
Mori, S. (2002). Redefining motivation to read in a foreign language. Reading in a Foreign Language, 14(2), 91-110.
Naseri, F. & Ghabanchi, Z. (2014). The relationship between self-efficacy beliefs, locus of comparison and reading comprehension ability of Iranian EFL advance learners. International Journal of Language Learning and Applied Linguistics World, 5(1), 156-174. 
Othman, N., & Ahmad Shah, M. I. (2013). Problem-based learning in the English language classroom. English Language Teaching, 6(3), 125-134.
Paige, R. M., Jorstad, H., Siaya, L., Klein, F., & Colby, J. (1999). Culture learning in language education: A review of the literature. Retrieved from 
Pajares, F. (2006). Self-efficacy during childhood and adolescence: Implications for teachers and partners. In F. Pajares & T. Urden (Eds.), Self-efficacious beliefs of adolescents. 339-367. Greenwich, CT: Information Age.
Paris, S. C., & Paris, A. H. (2001). Classroom applications of research on self-regulated learning. Educational Psychologist, 36, 89-101.
Pintrich, P. R., Smith, D. A. F., Garcia, T., & McKeachie, W. J. (1991). A manual for the use of the motivated strategies for learning questionnaire (MSLQ). Ann Arbor. MI: National Center for Researchto Improve Postsecondary Teaching and Learning.
Prat-Sala, M., & Redford, P. (2012). Writing essays: Does self-efficacy matter? The relationship between self-efficacy in reading and in writing and undergraduate students’ performance in essay writing. Educational Psychology, 32(1), 9-20.
Rashidi, N., & Soureshjani, K. H. (2011).The effect of teaching culturally-based texts on the Persian English as a foreign language (EFL) learners' motivation and reading performance. Journal of Languages and Culture, 2(8), 141-147.
Saito, Y., Garza, T. J., & Horwitz, E. K. (1999). Foreign language reading anxiety. Modern Language Journal, 83(2), 202-218.
Saluveer, E. (2004). Teaching culture in English classes. Unpublished master's thesis, University of   Tartu, Estonia. Retrieved from
Schaffer, S., Chen, X., Zhu, X., & Oakes, C. (2012). Self-efficacy for cross-disciplinary learning in project-based teams. Journal of Engineering Education, 101, 82-94.
Schulz, R. A. (2007). The challenge of assessing cultural understanding in the context of foreign language instruction. Foreign Language Annals, 40(1), 9-26.      
Schunk, D.H. (2012). Learning theories: An educational perspective. Boston: Pearson.
Schunk, D. H., & Zimmerman, B. J. (2007). Influencing children's self-efficacy and self-regulation of reading and writing through modeling. Reading and Writing Quarterly, 3, 7-25. 
Seidlhofer, B. (2005). Key concepts in ELT - English as a lingua franca. ELT Journal, 59(4), 339-341.
Sellers, V. D. (2000). Anxiety and reading comprehension in Spanish as a foreign language. Foreign Language Annals, 33(5), 512-521.
Serna Dimas, H. M. (2016). Integrating the intercultural communicative competence (ICC) in a foreign language program: Faculty considerations upon leaving the haven of native speakership. English Language Teaching, 9(4), 1-10.
Soleimani, H., Rahimi, Z., & Sadeghi, H. (2015). Project-based learning and its positive effects on Iranian intermediate EFL learners' reading ability and vocabulary achievement. International Journal of English language and Literature Studies, 4(1), 1-9.
Solheim, O. J. (2011). The impact of reading self-efficacy and task value on reading comprehension scores in different item formats. Reading Psychology, 32, 1-27. Doi: 10.1080/02702710903256601.
Spiro, R. J., Feltovich, P. J., Jacobson, M. J., & Coulson, R. L. (1991). Cognitive flexibility, constructivism and hypertext: Random access instruction for advanced knowledge acquisition in ill-structured domains. Educational Technology, 31, 24-33.
Tavakoli, M., Shirinbakhsh, S., & Rezazadeh, M. (2013). Effect of cultural adaptation on EFL reading comprehension: The role of narrative nativization and foreign language attitude. World Applied Sciences Journal, 21(11), 1587-1596.
Tomalin, B. (2008). Culture the fifth language skill. Retrieved from
Toprak, T. E., & Aksoyalp, Y. (2015). The question of re-presentation in EFL course books: Are learners of English taught about New Zealand? International Journal of Society, Culture & Language, 3(1), 51-104.
Wang, X. (2008). Reflection on the notion of culture teaching. US-China Foreign Languages, 6(1), 49-53.
Wigfield, A., & Guthrie, J. T. (1997). Relations of children's motivation for reading to the amount and breadth of their reading. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 420-432.
Wu, H. J. (2011). Anxiety and reading comprehension performance in English as a foreign language. Asian EFL Journal, 13(2), 273-307.
Yousef, H., Karimi, L., & Janfeshan, K. (2014). The relationship between cultural background and reading comprehension. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 4(4), 707-714. Doi: 10.4304/tpls.4.4.707-714.
Zbornik, J. J., & Wallbrown, F. H. (1991). The development and validation of a scale to measure reading  anxiety. Reading Improvement, 2(1), 2-13.
Zhang, H., & Kim, Y. (2014). Foreign language reading anxiety: Chinese learners of Korean. Studies in  Linguistics, 32, 21-45.
Zhao, A., Guo, Y., & Dynia, J. (2013). Foreign language reading anxiety: Chinese as a foreign language in the United States. The Modern Language Journal, 97, 764-778.
Zimmerman, B. J. (2000). Self-efficacy: An essential motive to learn. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 82-91. Doi: 10.1006/ceps.1999.1016