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Schema-Script Theory 
Listening and Reading Process 
S. Faiza Hassan 
S. Faiza Hassan- MS Applied Linguistics 
1
Meaning 
• Comprehension 
− Knowledge stored in reader’s mind and the Process 
through which readers tackle it. 
• Reading...
Schema Theory 
S. Faiza Hassan-MS Applied Linguistics 
3
Schema Theory 
• Schema 
− It is the background information which facilitates 
comprehension of written or spoken text. 
•...
Examples 
1. ‘Shall I compare thee to a pleasant summer’s day- 
Shakespeare’ {in South Asia (Pakistan, India, 
Bangladesh)...
Further elaboration on e.g. 3 
• ‘Readers, suppose you were an idiot and suppose you 
were member of congress, but then I ...
Studies 
• Adams (1983) 
− Learners were good at learning vocabulary in L1 
− Sharing ‘what the text is about’ helped lear...
Scripts 
and discourse 
S. Faiza Hassan-MS Applied Linguistics 
8
Script 
• Coined by Roger Schank-1977 
• Computer programs 
− Do not know the obvious thing that humans take for granted; ...
Script Theory 
• Script is a template of conversation/actions that exists in Language 
Learners mind for a situation 
• Un...
Benefits for the teacher 
• Increased awareness reading & writing difficulties 
− Comprehension of spoken or written or sp...
• Teaching Schemas: 
− cross cultural awareness 
• thanking people 
• Asking for help 
S. Faiza Hassan-MS Applied Linguist...
Schema and script theory 
• Reading is building learners background 
knowledge 
• Application: 
1. Teaching vocabulary-Con...
Key Lessons 
S. Faiza Hassan-MS Applied Linguistics 
14
Key lessons 
• Developing schema and knowledge of script 
goes hand in hand with developing receptive 
language skills 
• ...
Questions 
& Comments 
S. Faiza Hassan-MS Applied Linguistics 
16
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English Language Teaching: Schema and Script Theory (Reading & writing Process with L2 perspective)

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This Presentation is about Schema and Script theory prepared for teachers aiming to become Teachers of ESL. For content help was taken from David Nunan's book 'Second Language Learning and Language Teaching' It is useful for novice teachers who are training to become ELT to understand schema and script, and to understand the rationale behind pre-reading and pre-writing activities.

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English Language Teaching: Schema and Script Theory (Reading & writing Process with L2 perspective)

  1. 1. Schema-Script Theory Listening and Reading Process S. Faiza Hassan S. Faiza Hassan- MS Applied Linguistics 1
  2. 2. Meaning • Comprehension − Knowledge stored in reader’s mind and the Process through which readers tackle it. • Reading: knowing language, processing it to get meaning out of it. • For Example: − Rain • Good weather • Things to be covered by plastic sheets • Chill • Slippery roads • Not a day for new/favourite sandals S. Faiza Hassan-MS Applied Linguistics 2
  3. 3. Schema Theory S. Faiza Hassan-MS Applied Linguistics 3
  4. 4. Schema Theory • Schema − It is the background information which facilitates comprehension of written or spoken text. • What the text is about? • Culture specific • Individual specific S. Faiza Hassan-MS Applied Linguistics 4
  5. 5. Examples 1. ‘Shall I compare thee to a pleasant summer’s day- Shakespeare’ {in South Asia (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh) Summers are not considered pleasant and it appears mockery to them} 2. ‘Persimmon being a deciduous plant reacts unhappily to change of pot in spring’. Daily Dawn {makes sense to people who know the word deciduous} 3. ‘Readers, suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were member of congress, but then I repeat myself.’- Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) {makes sense to people who know Mark Twains stance on Politics} S. Faiza Hassan-MS Applied Linguistics 5
  6. 6. Further elaboration on e.g. 3 • ‘Readers, suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were member of congress, but then I repeat myself.’ Mark Twain • ‘All congresses and Parliaments have kindly feeling for idiots, and a compassion for them, on account of personal experience and heredity.’ Mark Twain • ‘Fleas can be taught nearly anything that a congressman can.’ Mark Twain − When learners are exposed to several texts containing similar idea it starts making sense to them as a schema starts developing. S. Faiza Hassan-MS Applied Linguistics 6
  7. 7. Studies • Adams (1983) − Learners were good at learning vocabulary in L1 − Sharing ‘what the text is about’ helped learners in both languages (L1 & L2) equally. • Patricia Carrell (1984) − Lack of context affected comprehension − L2 learners found use of vague words like things and facilities instead of clothes and washing machine a hindrance. • Roller and Motambo (1992) − Speakers of Shona remembered more text in English then in their mother tongue S. Faiza Hassan-MS Applied Linguistics 7
  8. 8. Scripts and discourse S. Faiza Hassan-MS Applied Linguistics 8
  9. 9. Script • Coined by Roger Schank-1977 • Computer programs − Do not know the obvious thing that humans take for granted; context • Ali had a sandwich at the cafe (talked to sales person, chose a flavour, paid, used a table & chair, might have taken a drink or sauces) • Schank and Abel (1977) A predetermined , stereotyped sequence of actions that defines a well-known situation • Schank; ‘the scrpit has remained an influential view of how memory is organized’ S. Faiza Hassan-MS Applied Linguistics 9
  10. 10. Script Theory • Script is a template of conversation/actions that exists in Language Learners mind for a situation • Universal − Ticketing (go to ticket counter, greet, ask rates, ask for discounts, pay, get the ticket) − Accommodation • Culture specific templates − Seeking help from neighbors (in some cultures you must go in their house and chat; in others you wait outside) • Absence of any such template − unpleasant surprise: “I want somebody to proofread an article I have written” this naïve request from an L2 PhD met several responses of “I want never gets” by L1 speakers on Linkedin S. Faiza Hassan-MS Applied Linguistics 10
  11. 11. Benefits for the teacher • Increased awareness reading & writing difficulties − Comprehension of spoken or written or spoken text involves knowledge of script and initiation of activation of schema − For written text learners have to depend on their own script only. − Literacy skills: writing system of L1 is very different from that of L2 − Cognitive deficits: difficulty of processing information in a second language. S. Faiza Hassan-MS Applied Linguistics 11
  12. 12. • Teaching Schemas: − cross cultural awareness • thanking people • Asking for help S. Faiza Hassan-MS Applied Linguistics 12
  13. 13. Schema and script theory • Reading is building learners background knowledge • Application: 1. Teaching vocabulary-Context facilitates learning and retaining new vocabulary. 2. Pre-Reading Activities 3. Series of long connected reading passages instead of short unconnected passages 4. Devising mental processing activities; labeling diagrams, developing a flowchart, narrating the read story to a peer. S. Faiza Hassan-MS Applied Linguistics 13
  14. 14. Key Lessons S. Faiza Hassan-MS Applied Linguistics 14
  15. 15. Key lessons • Developing schema and knowledge of script goes hand in hand with developing receptive language skills • Cultural differences in L1 and L2 can prove a hindrance for learning L2 • Learners need to develop ability to process information embedded in spoken or written text S. Faiza Hassan-MS Applied Linguistics 15
  16. 16. Questions & Comments S. Faiza Hassan-MS Applied Linguistics 16

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