Effect of Content Schema, Vocabulary Knowledge, and Reading Comprehension on Translation Performance

  • Reza Kafipour Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran
  • Naghmeh Jahansooz Marvdasht Branch, Islamic Azad University, Marvdasht, Iran
Keywords: Content schema, Schema theory, Translation performance, Vocabulary knowledge


Schemata refer to all kinds of knowledge which are gained throughout the lifetime. Few studies tried to integrate schema theory and the next two crucial factors in translation and learning which are vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension. Thus, the present research aimed at delineating the potential effect of these three factors on translation performance of Iranian undergraduate students majoring in translator training. To this end, 172 Iranian undergraduate students majoring in translator training were selected based on two-step cluster sampling. To collect data, the participants answered a set of 6 open-ended questions to measure the students’ content schema along with a vocabulary size test, reading comprehension test, and translation task. To analyze data, Pearson correlation coefficient as well as stepwise multiple regressions was conducted through Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 17. Data analysis indicated that the independent variables significantly correlated with translation performance. In addition, multiple regressions analysis specified reading comprehension as the main contributing variable and content schema as the second in students’ translation performance. It also showed that vocabulary knowledge could not be a predicting factor in translation performance of the learners; the reason may refer to the inseparable component of their translation task that is dictionary. The results highlighted the role of content schema in translation performance of the learners.

Author Biographies

Reza Kafipour, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

English Department

Naghmeh Jahansooz, Marvdasht Branch, Islamic Azad University, Marvdasht, Iran

Department of Translation Studies


Abdelhalim, S. M. (2011). Improving EFL majors’ critical reading skills and political awareness: A proposed translation program. International Journal of Educational Research, 50 (1), 336- 348.
Ajideh, P. (2006). Schema–theory based considerations on pre-reading activities in ESP textbooks. The Asian EFL Journal. Teaching Articles, 16 (1), 1-19.
Alderson, J. C. (2000). Assessing Reading. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Alidib, A. (2004). The Effects of Text Genre on Foreign Language Reading Comprehension of College Elementry and Intermediate Readers of French. [Online]Available: http://etd.ohiolink.edu/view.cgi/Alidib%20Zuheir.pdf?osu1101661869
Bartlett, F. C. (1932). Remembering: A Study in Experimental and Social Psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Beaugrande, R. & Dressler, W. (1981). Introduction to Text Linguistics. London: Longman.
Bensoussan, M. (1990). EFL reading as seen through translation and discourse analysis: Narrative vs. expository texts. English for Specific Purposes, 9(1), 49-66.
Bell, R.T. (1993). Translation and Translating: Theory and Practice. London and New York: Longman.
Bialystok, E. (1991). Language Processing in Bilingual Children. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Brislin, R. (1976). Translation: Applications and research. New York: Gardner Press.
Brown, G. & Yule, G. (1983). Discourse Analysis. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Carrell, P. L. (1981). Culture-specific schemata in L2 comprehension. In R. Orem and J. Haskell (Eds.), Selected papers form the ninth Illinois TESOL/ BE annual convention, First Midwest TESOL Conference. (pp. 123-132). Chicago: Illinois TESOL/ BE.
Carrell, P. L. (1987). Content and Formal Schemata in ESL Reading. TESOL Quarterly, 21 (3), 461-481.
Carrell, P. L., Joanne, D., & Eskey, D. E. (1988). Interactive Approaches to Second Language Reading. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Carrell, P. L. & Eisterhold, J. C. (1983). Schema theory and ESL reading pedagogy. TESOL Quarterly, 17(4), 553-573.
Catford, J. C. (1965). A Linguistic theory of translation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cook, G. (1997). Key concepts in ELT: Schemas. ELT Journal, 51(1), 86.
Cook, G. (1989). Discourse in language teaching: A scheme for teacher education. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Coulthard, M. (1992). Linguistic Constraints on Translation. In Studies in Translation / Estudos da Traducao, Ilha do Desterro, 28 (pp. 9-23). Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina.
Cowie, A. P. (1979). The treatment of polysemy in the design of a learner’s dictionary. In R. R. K. Hartmann (Ed.), Dictionaries and their users (pp. 82- 88). Exeter, UK: University of Exeter Press.

Dordick, M. L. (1998). The use of mental translation as a reading strategy by Spanish speakers as they read English. (Unpublished PhD dissertation). Oklahoma State University, USA.
Floyd, P. &Carrell, P. L. (1987). Effects on ESL reading of teaching cultural content schemata. Language Learning: A Journal of Research in Language Studies, 37 (1), 89-108.
Gallagher, N. (2007). Delta’s Key to the Next Generation TOEFL Test: Advanced Skill Practice for the IBT.IL: Delta Publishing Company.
Gani Hamzah, M. S., Kafipour, R. & Abdullah, S. K. (2009). Vocabulary learning strategies of Iranian undergraduate EFL students and its relation to their vocabulary size. European Journal of Social Sciences, 11(1), 39-50.
Gutt, E. A. (1991). Translation and relevance: Cognition and context. Oxford: Blackwell.
Hatim, B. & Munday, J. (2004). Translation: An Advanced Resource Book. London and New York: Routledge.
Johnson, P. (1981). Effects on reading comprehension of language complexity and cultural background of a text. TESOL Quarterly, 15 (2), 169-181.
Kafipour, R. (2010). Vocabulary Learning Strategies, Vocabulary Knowledge and Reading Comprehension of EFL Undergraduate Students in Iran. Unpublished PhD thesis, University Putra Malaysia, Malaysia.
Keen, E. O. & Zimmerman, S. (1997). Mosaic of thought: Teaching comprehension in a reader’s workshop. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Keshavarz, M. H., Attai, M. R., & Ahmadi, H. (2007). Content Schemata, Linguistic Simplification, and EFL Readers’ Comprehension and Recall. Reading in a foreign Language, 19(1), 19-33.
Khojasteh, L. & Reinders, H. (2013). How textbooks (and learners) get it wrong: A corpus study of modal auxiliary verbs. Applied Research on English Language, 2(1), 33-44.
Kim, H. (2006). The Influence of Background Information in Translation: Quantity vs. Quality or Both? Meta: journal des traducteurs / Meta: Translators' Journal, 51(2), 328-342.
Kostopoulou, G. (2007). The Role of Coherence in Text Approaching and Comprehension: Applications in Translation Didactics. Meta: journal des traducteurs / Meta: Translators’ Journal, 52(1), 146-155.
Krashen, S. D. (1981). The ease for narrow reading. TESOL Newsletter, 15 (6), 23.
Langer, J. A., Bartolome, L., Vasquez, O., & Lucas, T. (1990). Meaning Construction in School Literacy Tasks: A Study of Bilingual Students. American Educational Research Journal, 27(4), 427-471.
Laufer, B. (1996). The lexical threshold of second language reading comprehension: What it is and how it relates to L1 reading ability. In K. Sajavaara & C. Fairweather (Eds.), Approaches to second language acquisition (pp. 55-62). Jyvaskyla, Finland: University of Jyvaskyla.
Lefa, V. J. (1992). Making foreign language texts comprehensible for beginners: An experiment with an electronic glossary. System, 20 (1), 63- 73.
Malcolm, I. G. & Sharifian, F. (2002). Aspects of aboriginal English Oral Discourse: An Application of Cultural Schema Theory. Discourse Studies, 4(2), 169-181.
McCarthy, J. (2001). The skills, training, and qualifications of guidance workers. A paper prepared for an OECD review of policies for information, guidance and counseling services commissioned jointly by the European commission and the OECD, National Centre for Guidance in Education, Ireland.
Medina, A. & Pilonieta, P. (2006). Narrative text once upon a time: Comprehending. In J. Schumm (Ed.), Reading assessment and instruction for all learners (pp. 222- 296). New York: The Gifted Press.
Mehrpour, S. & Rahimi, M. (2010). The impact of general and specific vocabulary knowledge on reading and listening comprehension: A case of Iranian EFL learners. System, 38(1), 292-300.Doi: 10.1016/j.system.2010.01.004.
Mininni, G. (1981). On the need of psycholinguistic research on translation. International Journal of Psycholinguistics, 8 (1), 79-101.
Munday, J. (2001). Introducing Translation Studies: Theories and Applications. London and New York: Routledge.
Nation, I.S. P. & Beglar, D. (2007). A vocabulary size test. JALT, 31(7), 10-13.
Pritchard, R. (1990). The Effect of Cultural Schema on Reading Processing Strategies. Reading Research Quarterly, 25(4), 273-295.
Razi, S. (2004). The effects of cultural schema and reading activities on reading comprehension. In Singhal, M. Proceedings of the First International Online Conference on Second and Foreign Language Teaching and Research- September 25-26, The Reading Matrix Inc., The USA (ISSN 1550-8501). [Online] Available: http://www.readingmatrix.com/conference/pp/proceedings/razi.pdf (July 2, 2011)

Reed, S. K. (2006). Cognition: Theory and Applications. Belmont: Wadsworth. Newmark, P. (1988). A Textbook of Translation. New York: Prentice Hall International.
Pochhacker, F. (2004). Introducing interpreting studies. London: Routledge.
Roy, D. (2005). A Framework for Grounding Language in Action and Perception. Artificial Intelligence 167 (2005), 170-205, doi: 10.1016/j.artint.2005.04.007, http://www.Elsevier.com/locate/artint
Rumelhart, D. E. (1980). Schemata: The Building Blocks of Cognition. Theoretical Issues in Reading Comprehension, R. J. Spiro, B. C. Bruce, and W. E. Brewer (eds.), 33-58. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Schwenk, B. (2009), The Role of Background Knowledge in ESL Basic Reading: A Closer Look at Emergent ESL readers and their Performance within Culture-Specific Reading Material. [Online] Available: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=ohiou1237209242 (July 5, 2011)
Shakir, A. (1995). Reference and representation in Translation: A Look into the Translator’s Resources. Meta: journal des traducteurs/ Meta: Translators’ Journal, 40 (4), 693-701.
Steffensen, M. S., Joag-Dev, C., & Anderson, R. C. (1979). A Cross-Cultural Perspective on Reading Comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 15 (1), 10-29.
Sweet, A. P. & Snow, C. E. (2003). Rethinking reading comprehension. New York: Guilford Publications, Inc.
Van Dijk, T. (1980). Macrostructures. Hillslade, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Van Dijk, T. & Kintsch, W. (1983). Strategies of discourse comprehension. New York: Academic Press.
Venuti, L. (2008). The Translation Studies Reader. London: Routledge
Waddington, C. (2001). Different methods of evaluating student translations: The question of validity. Meta: Translators’ Journal, 46 (2), 311-325.
Widdowson, H. G. (1983). Learning Purpose and Language use. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Wilss, W. (1982). The science of translation: Problems and methods, (E. Klett, Trans.). Tubingen: Gunter Narr.
Yau, J. C. (2010). Roles of mental translation in first and foreign language reading. International Journal of Bilingualism, 15 (4), 373- 387.
Yazdi, M. & Kafipour, R. (2014). A qualitative study of vocabulary learning strategies applied by Iranian undergraduate EFL learners in real learning setting. English Language Teaching, 7(7), 1-7.
Yule, G. (1985). The study of language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
How to Cite
Kafipour, R., & Jahansooz, N. (2017). Effect of Content Schema, Vocabulary Knowledge, and Reading Comprehension on Translation Performance. Indonesian EFL Journal: Journal of ELT, Linguistics, and Literature, 3(1), 22-39. Retrieved from http://ejournal.kopertais4.or.id/mataraman/index.php/efi/article/view/2412