situations. Much of the work of the researchers and teachers on the application of both learning and communication strategies to classroom learning has come to be known generically as Learner Strategy Training (Brown ,1994).
Strategy training seeks to encourage greater responsibility and self-direction in the learners, stimulate a collaborative spirit between learner and teacher and also among the learners themselves, and help learners’ master specific strategies that facilitate self-reliance. A large number of diverse learning strategies have proved to help learners in first, second, and foreign language situations.
In recent years, a large number of researchers have focused on the application of learning strategies studies on the classroom learning. In order to make the classroom an affective milieu for learning, it has become increasingly apparent that “teaching learners how to learn” is crucially essential” (Brown, 1994, p. 177). Now that strategies are teachable (O’Malley et al., 1992) and that even making pupils aware of the different strategies applicable in a particular situation is a useful key in learning (Wenden, 1986), the significance of learners strategy training become crystal clear.
Accordingly to O’Malley et al. (1992), “strategy training successfully demonstrated in a natural teaching environment with second language listening and speaking tasks. This indicates that classroom instruction on learning strategies with integrative language skills can facilitate learning” (p. 115).
Language teachers are suggested to embed strategy instruction in their classes to facilitate language learners’ learning process. And learner strategy trainees report promising results of their strategy instruction programs in both second and foreign language contexts.
Halliday and Hassan (1985) stated that we can define text in the simplest way perhaps by saying that it is language that is functional. By functional, we simply mean language that is doing some job in some context, as opposed to isolated words or sentences that I might put on the blackboard. So any instance of living language that is playing some part in a context of situation, we shall call a text (p.10). Also Halliday and Hassan (1976) believed that “the word text is used in linguistics to refer to any passage, spoken or written of whatever length, that does form a unified whole” (p.1).
A text is traditionally understood to be a piece of written language, a whole “work” such as poem or a novel, or relatively discrete part of a work such as “chapter”. A rather broader conception has become within discourse analysis, where a text may be either written or spoken discourse, so that for example, the words used in a conversation constitute a text (Fairclough, 1995).
Further, Michael Halliday, one of the linguists credited with the development of systemic linguistics and functional grammar, defines text as any authentic stretch of written or spoken language. According to Halliday (1994: xiv) the historical study of linguistics first involved studying the morphology of language followed by studying the meaning of words at the sentence level. Ultimately the goal of such analysis was to find the meaning of the forms of language. However, in Halliday’s view, the reverse approach is more meaningful: “A language is interpreted as a system of meanings, accompanied by forms through which the meanings can be expressed.” Beyond the grammar and lexis of language, understanding the mechanisms for how text is structured is the basis for his work.
2.2.1 Text comprehension
Text comprehension is an interactive process in which linguistic elements in a discourse or text interact with each other to create the ‘texture’ of a text (Halliday & Hasan, 1976, de Beaugrande & Dressler, 1981). Also interactions between bottopm-up and top-down processing of texts take place in the readers’ mind, or between linguistic knowledge and world knowledge (Eskey, 1988, Grabe & Stoller, 2002). The third level on interaction is an interpretive one between the reader and a text, or between the reader and the writer through a text (Nuttal, 1996, Ozono and Ito, 2003). Lipson and Wixon (1986), among others, claim that research on reading ability as well as reading disability should adopt an interactive view. Such a view takes into account the dynamic process of reading in which the reader, text, process, and the setting conditions of the reading situation interact in an active and flexible manner. This claim should be extended to reading in a foreign language as well. In fact, to understand how foreign language learners comprehend texts, many researchers have emphasized the need to study the differential contribution of text-based characteristics such as genre, text structure parameters, and textual markers (Geva, 1992; Camiciottoli, 2003; Carrel, 1985).
In addition, the reader’s ability to comprehend a text may vary as a function of the text type (Schneuwly, 1997; Alverman, et al., 1995). For example, everyday narratives are often believed to deal with familiar and meaningful events. One may therefore assume that it is relatively easy to infer textual relations implied in narratives than in other text forms (expository or argumentative) because of the reader’s limited experience and domain-relevant knowledge in comprehending the latter text types. Understanding the rhetorical relations of texts is thought to be at the heart of the comprehension process of the text and of the writers’ intention in the text (Alavi, 2001). It follows that if readers can infer textual relations in less demanding texts, they may not be as successful when they have to read and learn from texts that are more demanding, i.e. when they have to learn from expository text, or pinpoint niches from argumentative texts. This difficulty may further illustrate the challenges facing readers of English as a foreign language (EFL) as the focus of literacy programs shifts from “learning to read”, a prominent target in the primary grades to “reading to learn” through English at the university (Chall, et al, 1996). Consequently, to understand how EFL readers comprehend texts, studying the differential contribution of different text-based characteristics such as genre, or text type is essential.
2.2.2 Text type
Text types refer to rhetorical/discoursal/linguistic patterns, which convey the purpose or the function of a text. For instance, a text can be written to instruct, explain, describe, narrate, persuade, support an argument, and so on. These purposes or functions are consciously or unconsciously enacted by text producers, and identified by text receivers. The identification of text types is deeply rooted in the culture (cf. Faigley and Meyer 1983), and it is considered to be a basic skill, crucial in all activities involving text production and comprehension. It is so much so that the BBC has set up a website where web users can learn how to identify different types of text (descriptive, informative, persuasive, and instructive). This is not an isolated case, for example the UK Adult Literacy website also focuses on the importance of identifying the purpose of a text. Furthermore, many universities have online writing labs where students are taught how to deal with different types of texts, from argumentation to definition, description and so forth.
Werlich (1976) distinguishes between five text types: description, narration, argumentation, instruction, and exposition text types.
• description: differentiation and interrelation of perceptions in space
• narration: differentiation and interrelation of perceptions in time
• exposition: comprehension of general concepts through differentiation by analysis or synthesis
• argumentation: evaluation of relations between concepts through the extraction of similarities, contrasts, and transformations
• instruction: planning of future behavior
Narrative texts are about people engaged in events with a sequential timeline, including personal experiences, fictional stories, and film/book/TV program summaries (Hadley, 1998; Scott, 1988). They teach learners about the components of a story and are frequently fun and interesting to them. Bakken (2002) argues that narrative prose is very familiar to children because they have learned using this kind of prose. Another reason for better comprehension of this kind of text based on Bakken (2002) is that children know what they are expected while reading so they will focus their attention on remembering what they have read.
Instructional/ Procedural texts consist of a sequence of instructions designed with some accuracy in order to reach an objective. They refer exclusively to written procedural directions prescribing the performance some sequence of actions to the reader. This type of text can be seen as the expression of a set of actions bearing procedural relationships with one another. In fact, the definition of the instructional genre makes reference to the single fundamental intention of expressing a procedure in an effective way. The overall structure of instructional texts can be described on three levels with their internal coherence and independence, however with numerous interactions. The first level that we call (the task structure), is mainly analyzed as an ordered sequence of instructions operating over a specific set of entities in order to reach a goal. Instructions may be sequential, or may have a more complex structure including, for example, options, alternatives or operations to realize in parallel with others. This level also includes the analysis of markers that connect instructions. A more refined analysis of instructional texts, including some forms of coherence checking, is then accounted for by the second level based on the rhetorical structure (RST). Finally, a third level deals with a more