Nguyễn Ngọc Bảo Châu, Sean Liu, Katia Lopez


This paper investigates the influence of cultural background knowledge on EFL reading comprehension. To explore the general assumption that cultural background knowledge helps students to better comprehend a text, a reading comprehension test including two passages describing a Vietnamese and a Chilean national holiday was developed. Forty one Vietnamese and 35 Chilean students took the test. A brief questionnaire was also used to examine students’ perceptions of their familiarity with the texts based on their background knowledge. Results from the t-tests revealed statistically significant differences between the two groups. Both Vietnamese and Chilean students respectively outperformed the other group in the test section about their national holiday, which suggested a positive influence of cultural background knowledge. Weak but significant correlations were found between students’ reported familiarity with the texts and their scores in each section. The findings of this study provide some relevant implications for language testing and second language instruction.



Cultural familiarity; language testing; reading comprehension

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