The effect of interesting text on the reading comprehension of Korean college EFL students: a comparison of seductive details and interesting elaborations
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Although a rich and contentious literature has addressed the effect of interest on readers’ comprehension processes, nearly all of this work has dealt with reading in one’s native language. Thus, much remains to be determined to understand whether and how text interest would affect foreign and second language reading processes. This study examined the effect of two different kinds of interesting details (seductive details and interesting elaborations) on EFL (English as a foreign language) reading comprehension for Korean college students. Two other variables, proficiency level (higher and lower) and gender (male and female), were also tested for their effect on L2 reading comprehension, alone and in interaction with the effect of text types (baseline, seductive details version, and interesting details version). Recall protocols (recall of common ideas, main ideas, and non-main ideas) were used as a measure of reading comprehension. Participants were 118 Korean college students who were learning English as a foreign language. They completed a reading proficiency test and a prior-knowledge test before reading and recalling ideas from an expository text about Linus Pauling and Vitamin C. Results of a MANOVA indicated that seductive details interfered with Korean college EFL readers’ recall of common ideas and main ideas, confirming past research showing the interference effect of seductive details. However, results also indicated that interesting elaborations, which were designed to be more important in the text, were not significantly beneficial to EFL reading comprehension when compared to the baseline text. Proficiency level had a significant effect on every dependent measures while gender did not. There were two interaction effects of text type by proficiency level and text type by gender on the recall of common ideas. While the performance of lower proficient readers was better when they read a text version including interesting elaborations than when they read a version with seductive details, higher proficient readers did not show any performance difference between the two text types. Also, male students recalled more of common ideas when they read the EL text version than when they read the SD text version. Female students, however, showed no performance difference between the two text versions. Discussion and practical implications are also presented.