More Than Words can Tell - Using Multimodal Texts to Support Reading Comprehension of Literary Texts in English
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This thesis explores the possibilities of multimodality in supporting text comprehension of literary texts in language learning of the L2. While multimodal texts offer multiple ways of meaning making that sometimes go beyond the written text, I have focussed on multimodal expressions that mirror the context of a given text. I conducted an empirical study with 114 students (grade 9; 13-14 years) in two schools in Trondheim, Norway. The material I used consisted of three literary texts (excerpts from Penguin Readers books adapted for the age group) for which the supported by illustrations and audio files was systematically varied in an experimental design. The students carried out a standardized reading test (Hodder reading test) in a first session to establish different levels of reading proficiency, before they took the main reading comprehension test which included the multimodal text expressions in a second session, about 1-2 weeks later. In addition, their personal experience of support by the multimodal expressions was measured in a questionnaire. Differences between the different versions of the texts were analysed by chi-square tests, analyses of variance, and analyses of covariance. The reading proficiency test proved to be a good indicator for successful understanding of the literary texts. The different modalities seem to support reading comprehension, but the effects appear to depend partly on the students’ level of reading proficiency and fatigue. The results are interpreted in the light of cognitive theory of multimedia learning and dual coding theory.