ENHANCING UNDERGRADUATES’ READING COMPREHENSION IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE: THE ROLE OF WORKING MEMORY

E. Nteliou

Harokopio University (GREECE)
The present paper focuses on the extent to which working memory can help readers to capture text coherence and in this way understand meanings. Apart from having a high level of lexical awareness, effective readers should also be able to store, process and recall information from the long-term memory, in order to connect text meanings and draw inferences. In fact, these skills are of high importance within an academic environment, because it is a routine for students to study scientific texts, which are densely written, full of referential relationships and complex meanings. The effort to understand an academic text may become even more complicated if the text is written in a foreign language, because there are often many unknown words and terms, which make text comprehension even more difficult. Among the various text comprehension models which involve the role of working memory, there are two that will be mentioned in this paper: a. The Structure Building Framework (Gernsbacher, M.A., 1990) and b. The Construction-Integration Model (Kintch, 1988, Kintch and Erricson, 1995). These two models describe the role of short-term and long-term working memory in text comprehension and also provide some explanations about the differences between poor and good readers, which may not only be due to memory factors. However, text comprehension is a skill and thus can be practised and improved. Therefore, there will also be a reference to the strategies that good readers use and which can also be applied by tutors, in order to enhance their students’ reading comprehension.