Chinese L1 Schoolchildren Reading in English : The Effects of Rhetorical Patterns

Alastair SHARP*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Reading comprehension can be seen as a process dependent on the interaction of 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' processes. An important, but neglected, feature of this process concerns the effects of rhetorical organization. This article describes an experiment in which four rhetorically different texts, with identical subject matter, were read by 490 Hong Kong Chinese school children (mean age 14.1), studying in English (their L2). Comprehension was measured by a cloze procedure and by recall protocols. One way ANOVA was used to investigate the effects of different texts on the test scores. The results showed a clear difference in comprehension between the text types and suggest that pedagogical support to increase awareness of rhetorical patterns would be beneficial. Key words: rhetorical organization, comprehension, Hong Kong Chinese, text analysis, text structure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-135
JournalReading in a Foreign Language
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2002

Bibliographical note

My thanks to Lingnan University, Hong Kong, for their financial assistance with this project.

My thanks also to the editors and reviewers of previous drafts of this article for their valuable comments and to Jackie Sharp for her advice.


  • rhetorical organization
  • comprehension
  • Hong Kong Chinese
  • text analysis
  • text structure


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