Narrative Film: Promoting Reading and Learning

By Moyra Sweetnam Evans.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Unskilled L1 readers and L2 readers at even fairly advanced levels, tend to pay more attention to decoding written text than to activating and using background knowledge (Bernhardt, 1991; Nassaji, 2002). If they do use higher-order comprehension strategies, they tend to use them less proficiently and less frequently (Ruddell & Unrau, 1994), with resultant misinferencing and miscomprehension. Metacognitive strategy training increases students’ motivation to read, develops successful reading strategies, encourages textual engagement and re-reading of difficult texts, and improves comprehension and learning (Paris et al.1991; Perez, 1993; Hunt, 1996; Stanovich, 2000; Alfassi, 2005; Eilers & Pinkley, 2006). L2 students are scaffolded while they learn to access their already-acquired L1 higher-level receptive processing skills and prior knowledge to compensate for problems in second language reception, as proposed in Bernhardt’s (2005) compensatory model for L2 reading.
Narrative film is a valuable medium for training students to become effective readers. Reading shares receptive processes with listening and observation (Nunan, 1997; Urquhart & Weir, 1998; Ellis, 2003: Vandergrift, 2003) and film reception (Persson, 1998; Magliano et al. 2001). Narratives are basic elements in people’s lives (Green & Brock, 2000) and are relatively easy to process (Graesser et al., 2003). They evoke affective responses to the characters and situations presented in the texts (Green & Brock, 2000; Radvansky et al., 2005) thereby enhancing learning, recall, comprehension and interpretation (Glenberg et al., 1987; Allbritton & Gerrig, 1991; Gernsbacher et al. 1992; Kneepkens & Zwaan, 1994; Zwaan, 1999; Miall & Kuiken, 2003; Hakemulder, 2004). Carefully-selected narratives provide accessible text (Graesser et al., 1991) and evoke situational interest (Schraw & Lehman, 2001). Narrative film shares these characteristics with written narratives (Green & Brock, 2000).

Keywords: Reading, Learning, Comprehension, Narrative, Film, Metacognitive Processing, Coherence, Engagement, Inference, Interest, Meaning, Postdiction, Reception, Selective Attention, Strategy

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp.253-266. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 616.457KB).

Dr. Moyra Sweetnam Evans

Lecturer, Linguistics Programme, English Department, University of Otago, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand

Moyra Sweetnam Evans taught applied linguistics and TESOL at the University of Johannesburg before relocating to New Zealand. She was involved in TESOL and teacher development in Christchurch for three years, as the principal of a language school and as a consultant to language schools and a college of education. Her research interests include TESOL, reading, bilingualism, bilingual education, the teaching of reading and stylistics.


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