EFL reading as seen through translation and discourse analysis: Narrative vs. expository texts

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Abstract

Though in some respects easier than expository texts, narrative texts can pose special problems for foreign language learners. Such differences can be examined in terms of the macro- and microlevels of prepositional content, communicative functions, vocabulary, verb tenses, parts of speech, pronoun agreement, and grammatical cohesion. Learners reading expository texts are expected to follow a logical argument (with explanations, contrasts, cause/effect, etc.) usually organized with typical markers of cohesion. Readers of narrative texts may need to follow dialogues characterized by description, irony, subtle nuances, and double entendres. This paper proposes to examine reading problems by means of discourse analysis of students' translations. It is based on two previous experiments in which first-year university students translated English texts into their native language, Hebrew or Arabic. For both text types, learners had difficulty with prepositional content, vocabulary, and pronoun agreement. Communicative function appeared to cause difficulty in the narrative but not the expository text. Grammatical cohesion, in contrast, proved difficult in the expository but not the narrative text.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-66
Number of pages18
JournalEnglish for Specific Purposes
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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