(meanA=1.90, meanB=1.90 and meanC= 3.50). Group C had a better presentation on post-test than A and B. It means that teacher-student mediated semantic mapping strategy is the most effective type.
In light of the findings of this study, the researcher puts forward the following recommendations; they may be useful for English teachers, the material producers and the curriculum designers:
۱- The researcher recommends that the textbooks which are going to be adopted at Iranian schools should include some guidelines that help students in the reading process.
۲- Students should be fully engaged in the reading process: Pre-reading activities, drawing semantic maps…etc. they should be encouraged to view the reading process as a dynamic activity.
۳- Encouraging students to gather ideas and develop them in a well organized semantic maps, has wonderful results in their comprehension of the texts.
۴- Reading needs time and this time is necessary for students to grow, develop and improve their reading comprehension. Improvement entails practice. Time allocated for any reading task should be limited and agreed on for students to know how to read in an effective way using the semantic mapping strategy to plan to their reading.
۵- Students need an environment that promotes reading and provides opportunities for individuals to work together in creating such maps. Teachers can to some degrees provide students with some technical ways of how to organize the reading process.
۶- Training students to use the innovative reading strategies and techniques in their classroom; such as the semantic strategy; is beneficial in their comprehension improvement.
۷- Students could model for teaching reading by using the semantic strategy; therefore, teachers could familiarize students with the semantic mapping strategy by providing them with some models of maps.
۸- In teaching vocabulary also, the teachers can use the semantic mapping strategies.
۵.۴. Pedagogical Implications
The results of the present study could open new door for EFL learners and teachers to the ways of learning reading comprehension by a new strategy. Based on the findings of this study, semantic mapping strategies were proved to be helpful for Iranian intermediate students to apply in their reading comprehension activities. As an aid, these strategies significantly improved learners’ productive ability of English reading. Actually they are tools to apply and learn the vocabularies existed in the reading text.
One major purpose for semantic mapping is to assist teachers in planning and conducting reading instruction. Therefore, to have students read with comprehension aim, it is recommended that teachers analyze the structure of the text and create a map. The process of creating such a map helps the teachers to determine what is important enough about a text to be emphasized in classes. For example, the theme often indicates background knowledge that students will need to use to comprehend, and this can become the focus of a pre-reading discussion.
The researcher observed how enthusiastic students were with this way of teaching reading. They were very active to the extent that they started giving their suggestions to develop the semantic maps. Their suggestions were unexpected and great. This proves what Raymond (2006) said that: “Once students become familiar with the nature of the semantic maps, they can create their own as a during-reading or post-reading activity.” The mean scores of the students’ achievements on the semantic maps reflected the improvement of the student’s reading comprehension.
Moreover, using semantic maps to create questions can guide the discussion of the text; this discussion in turn can enhance the students’ understanding if the order of the questions posed by the teacher followed the organization of the maps.
Utilizing the mapping strategy is useful for helping students develop a general concept of definition. It makes them aware of the types of information which make up a definition and how the information is organized. When the researcher taught a particular lesson, most of the students became aware of the real definition of the keywords of the text. Students interacted with the way they were taught by; which was the semantic mapping technique as suggested by Heimlich and Pittleman (1986) that “This strategy has been identified by researchers as an excellent technique for increasing vocabulary and improving reading comprehension.” Zaid (1995) also explored that “Students who use semantic mapping manifest considerable improvement in reading comprehension, written expression, and vocabulary development.”
Semantic mapping is a good way to organize information about a problem or subject. Construction of semantic maps helps us pull together information we already know about a subject and understand new information as clarified by Schlesinger (2000) who depicted semantic mapping as a “graphic representation or picture of one’s thoughts, ideas, and attitudes toward a key concept.” They also added that semantic mapping focuses on categorizing and connecting these thoughts, ideas, and attitudes in relation to the key concept. The semantic maps consist of nodes and labeled lines. Node is the name for important terms or concepts. Nodes are usually depicted with circles drawn around the term or concept. The lines between nodes show which concepts are related. The label on the line tells how or in what way the words are related. The students at the beginning of the treatment showed little interest when they were taught by the semantic mapping strategy. Later, when the students were informed how to read the maps , they showed great enthusiasm toward it because they feel that they can build similar maps as built by the researcher depending on the steps they were taught and their background knowledge and their schemata as indicated by Taylor & Williams (1983) in reference to how semantic maps portray the schematic relations of the readers that compose a concept and how it assumes that there are multiple relations between a concept and the knowledge that is associated with the concept. Moreover, William (1994) explained that direct teaching strategy that includes brainstorming and teacher-led discussions provides opportunities for schema development and enhancement, as well as prediction, hypothesizing and verification of content as a pre-reading activity.
In another view, syllabus designers and curriculum makers can benefit from the findings of this study to provide materials for reading courses and any field of English reading that needs comprehension.
In conclusion, all the researchers who have conducted their researches on semantic mapping strategy agreed upon the significant role of applying the this strategy in teaching reading comprehension for its great benefits that may serve a variety of learning purposes. They may serve as a student’s journal or record or instruction, providing students with a systematic means to integrate their new knowledge with their prior understanding, activating students prior knowledge and stimulating them to use that knowledge to interact with the text and promoting semantic mapping as a pre-reading activity that encourages students to map out their ideas . The map-either in its final board form or in the personalized version made by each student-can serve as a springboard for other language activities. The map can be an outline for the writing of a short essay on the topic, or one segment of the map can be used in the writing of a paragraph. Some students may want to enlarge the map further by doing research on the topic in the library. If the semantic mapping activity has been valuable for the students, they themselves will want to make the decision of what they wish to initiate as a follow-up.
۵.۵. Suggestions for Further Study
This survey considered the impact of semantic mapping strategies on intermediate EFL learners’
reading comprehension in Kerman and also measured three kinds of these techniques to determine the most effective one. There are many aspects that one can study around this field. So, further research the followings are suggested:
First, as it mentioned before (chapter 1, limitations of study), this study just focused on three kinds of semantic mapping strategies. These strategies could be categorized from different points of views which are fruitful for study: 1.Who the instructor is (teacher, students or both); 2. What the way of developing the maps is (Spider Map, Series of Events Chain, Continuum Scale …) as discussed in chapter one; 3. What the type of reading test is (story map, concept map …).
Second, the researcher examined the impacts of semantic mapping strategies in a particular level of learning which was intermediate. The other studies can be conducted considering other levels of learning as advanced or upper-intermediate levels.
Third, the present research considered the level of subjects as variable. The other studies could be conducted around other variables as: age, gender, first and second language proficiency, cultural background, motivation, language learning objectives, settings, previous language learning experiences and language learning or teaching method of the subjects. They could be other viewpoints in measuring the effects of semantic mapping strategies on EFL learners.
Fourth, there could be other researches which examine the effects of using semantic mapping strategies on other aspects of language learning as vocabulary learning.
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