is used to select the sentences to simplify, and Siddharthan’s syntactic simplification system (Siddharthan, 2003) is used to split the selected sentences.
In this study, the researcher does not drop sentences, since she believes that all the content must be kept in the text.
Yano, Long and Ross (1994), conclude that linguistic simplification of written texts can increase their comprehensibility for non-native speakers, but reduce their utility for language learning in other ways, for example, through the removal of linguistic items that learners do not know but need to learn. Referring to the results of their experiment, Yano, et .al (1994) state: “Comprehension was highest among learners reading the simplified version, but not significantly different from those reading the elaborated version where redundancy and explicitness compensate for unknown linguistic items.”
This finding is in contrast with the results of an experiment by Ulijn and Strother (1990) who found that syntactic simplification of a text is not a real simplification, and as a result writers and teachers should give priority to other more conceptual ways of rewriting texts.
Ciapuscio (1993) found that cognitive simplification does not lead to syntactic simplification, as the target text often displays more complex syntactic structures than the source text.
Furthermore, Cervantes and Gainer (1992) examined the effects of syntactic simplification and repetition on listening comprehension in two experiments with non – native speakers. Subjects who heard the simplified syntax version score significantly higher in recall than those who heard the more complex version.
Apart from the result of the studies and whether simplified versions of this kind (syntactically and lexically simplified) have a positive impact on reading comprehension of FL readers the lack of authenticity of simplified versions needs to be addressed.
2.9) Simplification and Authenticity
Realization that even a simplified text can be relevant to its audience throws light on the issue of authenticity in language teaching materials. Simplified materials often find acceptance because they prepare the reader for eventual control of authentic texts.
Authentic (like simplified) is a term that occurs in the literature of language teaching and applied linguistics but not in theoretical linguistics (Davis, 1984; Breen, 1987; Wallace, 1992; Widowson, 1990). In discussions on authenticity of language data for language for language teaching purposes, doubts as to what authenticity might mean have already been expressed by Widdowson, who writes (1979):
“I am not sure that it is meaningful to talk about authentic language as such at all. I think it is probably better to consider authenticity not as a faculty residing in instances of language but as a quality which is bestowed upon them, created by the response of the receiver. Authenticity in this view is the function of the interaction between the reader / hearer and the text which incorporates the intentions of the winter / speaker.”
In further discussion of simplification, Widdowson (1979) remarks the linguist’s idealization of data:
“…the teacher simplifies by selecting and ordering the linguistic phenomena he is deal with so as to ease the task of learning and the linguist idealize by selecting and ordering the linguistic phenomena he is to deal with to ease the task of analysis.”
And, making the connection between authenticity and Simplification direct, Lautamatti (1978) argues that simplified texts are used in the teaching of foreign language reading comprehension as a ladder towards less simplified and finally authentic texts. In fact, Lautamatti sees simplification and authenticity as ends of the same continuum.
In teaching, one selects texts on the basis of how simple they are, i.e., whether or not they are comprehensible to the addressee. As a matter of fact, one cannot speak of simplified texts without taking into account the understanding of the addressee. It is that understanding that allows us to rank texts on a scale of readability. In other words, while the writer of simplified texts is conceived with the process of simplifying, that process will be effective only if matched by the reader’s own involvement. That involvement makes the text authentic for the reader. In fact, it is not that a text is understood because it is authentic but that it is authentic because it is understood (Davis, 1987).
It is thus concluded that the teacher and the learner can act as authenticator and simplifier of texts, respectively (Davis, 1984; Corder, 1981). In teaching our concern is with simplification, not with authenticity. Everything the learner understands is authentic for him. It is the teacher who simplifies, the learner who authenticates. In the teaching of reading as in all language teaching the fundamental task of the teacher is that of selection or judging relevance (Davies, 1984).
In this chapter the literature related to reading comprehension and simplification has been reviewed. At first, in “Theoretical framework” section some related studies have been reviewed. In the second section “Reading Comprehension, Past and present”, the literature on approaches to reading, its different definitions, models and theories of reading comprehension has been examined and reviewed, followed by different processes involved in reading. The other section, “Reading Materials”, has investigated the literature on appropriate reading material followed by components of appropriacy. Then, some sources of syntactic complexity have been mentioned. The other section has investigated the relationship between syntactic complexity and reading comprehension. Then, we’ve discussed simplification of reading materials. At the end the relationship between simplification and authenticity has been discussed.
As it is said earlier in the previous chapter the present study was conducted to ameliorate the pedagogical and practical effect of textual modification on reading comprehension. So this part aimed at paying attention to the methodology of the research as follows: the design of the study, pilot study, participants of the study, materials, procedures and the statistical analysis.
3.1) The Design of the Study
This part included the design of the study that focused on tests of participants, participants themselves and the way of treatment, which is explained here. The treatment lasted 10 sessions. The procedure was pre-test, post-test based on the nature and the purpose of the study. There were both control and experimental groups.
The experimental group was under treatment by giving them instructions and performing tests. The design of the study is quasi experimental which is included pre-test and post-test design. Basically three types of tests were used in this study. MELAB test which was included general tests of English for homogenizing students, pre-test and post-test.
The schematic representation of the design is as follows:
C1 Control group T1C T2C
X1 Experimental group T1X T2X
T2 Post test
3.2) Participants of the Study
The participants of the study were 115 upper-intermediate students both male and female, aged between 15 and 21, After administration of MELAB test, 60 upper-intermediate students whose scores were between 32 and 79 were selected. They were divided into 2 groups control and experimental group. Both groups sat for the pre-test of reading comprehension test to take their initial knowledge of reading comprehension ability. Then the control group received no treatment. However, the experimental group received treatment based on textual modification technique and finally both groups s
at for the post-test, which is the same reading comprehension test.
3.3) Materials of the Study
The following materials were employed throughout the course of this study. An MELAB test was used for the purpose of homogenizing the proficiency of the learners. Another type of the test which was used for the purpose of the study was reading comprehension test. This type of test was used as a pre-test to measure the learners’ initial subject knowledge in two groups. And finally a reading comprehension test was used as a post-test.
3.4) Procedures of the Study
The following steps were taken in the course of present study:
1. A MELAB test was administered among 115 students in order to make them homogeneous.
2. After dividing the students into three groups of low, intermediate and high, forty upper-intermediate students were selected to take part in the investigation.
3. Sixty upper-intermediate students were divided into control and experimental group randomly.
4. Both groups took the same pre-test; a reading comprehension test from Nelson Reading Tests. It was taken to show participants’ current level of knowledge.
5. In Experimental group, researcher used textual modification techniques mentioned in chapter two, such as breaking the complex and compound sentences, using active voice, changing discourse marker, inversion of clause ordering, rearranging the sentence order, topicalization and detopicalization and etc.
6. In control group none of the above-mentioned techniques were used by researcher. Instead like traditional reading classes texts were translated only.
7. After 10 sessions, both groups took the same post-test. This test was also selected from Nelson Reading Test.
3.5) Statistical Collection
After administrating pre-test and post-test from experimental and control group, four sets of scores were available. Scores obtained from pre-test, show participants’ status before any treatment. On the other hand, post-test shows the difference between experimental and control group after using textual modification techniques in experimental group.
The data was analyzed through SPSS, an ANCOVA was run to analyze the data of the study.
In this chapter, after discussing pilot study, procedures used to conduct the research were covered. It consisted of three main points; first of all, the participants of the study and their demographic features were discussed. Then the researcher presented a brief explanation of the steps followed to design the instrument of the study and its component parts. Finally, the procedures followed by the researcher to conduct the study, including how the data were collected and how they were analyzed, were presented.
4.0. Data Analysis and Findings
In order to ensure that the control and experimental groups were in equal conditions before the treatment began, it was thought to compare the mean scores of both groups. A pre-requisite to any comparison of two independent means is equality of variances. Equality of variances was investigated and calculated using Levin’s test. The p-value turned out to be 0.051, which is bigger than 0.05, so the variances were assumed as equal with 95% confidence. To investigate equality of means for two independent populations, an independent samples t-test was the best statistical test, so the means were compared using a two tailed t-test.
Table 4.1. Group Statistics
Std. Error Mean
Table 4.2. Independent Samples Test
Levene’s Test for Equality of Variances
t-test for Equality of Means
Std. Error Difference
95% Confidence Interval of the Difference
Equal variances assumed
Equal variances not