This study investigated the relationship between attitudes and cultural background of 52 eighth-grade Arab students in Canada and their reading comprehension of texts with English and Arabic content. An attitudes questionnaire, semi-structured interviews and stories with cultural content in Arabic and English were used. Contrary to predictions made by schema theory, students scored higher whenever they read texts in English, their second language, regardless of cultural content. The multicultural reality of Canada seems to have provided students from different ethnic background with wide-ranging cultural knowledge to cope successfully with unfamiliar cultural stories presented to them in the English language. Furthermore, gender differences were found among the Canadian Arab students with regard to the type of attitudes that motivated them to study English: male students showed predominantly instrumental attitudes, while females showed predominantly integrative attitudes towards learning English and becoming integrated into Canadian society. It is concluded that sociopsychological models of second-language (L2) learning should be expanded to take into consideration gender differences and the gains that females coming from conservative societies start to achieve by learning the language of the host country and by integrating into its society.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology