Paper Example on Activating Schema and Background Knowledge

Published: 2021-07-28
632 words
3 pages
6 min to read
University of Richmond
Type of paper: 
Literature review
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

A schema can be described as a system whose description has been generalized and helps in understanding knowledge and how it is used. The theory in the schema has all the knowledge organized into units which are in the form of stored information. This information is the one used by the teachers to help in the preparation of their students in English proficiency test (Boyandi, Nikoo & Kashani, 2013). Background knowledge on the hand plays a major role in content learning and comprehensive reading. When a student knows a particular topic, then it will be easier for them to elaborate and recall during the test.

Activating schema and background knowledge are of great importance in test preparation, since it will help the students who are already aware of a topic to learn new information and also remembering will be easy. According to Nelson and Schmid (1989), the theory in schema views the organized data as for how to elaborate ideas between networks. Many learners may have some difficulties which are as a result of deficient general knowledge in areas like cross-cultural situations. Schemata change and grow widely as new information is acquired. The general knowledge will provide a framework which new structures can be fitted. Schema theory is useful in reading comprehension, thus it helps the learner to predict and interpret the English test which has a message in in print form (Varaprasad, 2016). Meanings of the comprehension will occur when the student prior knowledge in the schemata is compatible with retrieved information from the test.

Background knowledge will help the student to organize messages and notice on the focal points of learning regarding reducing their memory burden. This will help the students to understand the skills on specific topics which will be covered in the proficiency test. Through activation of background knowledge, the students will be able to have a better understanding of the whole test (Lent, 2012). Also, they will be able to perform better since they will have a great use of their senses in the test. Besides, students will have knowledge of the skills which have been taught in the English class.

Lent, (2012) argues that English is an international language that has grown in importance over time and requires non-English speakers to learn English with the aim of becoming competitive in the current information age. Schema and background knowledge in English plays a significant role in English learning through better metacognition and language comprehension. The purpose of learning is to acquire comprehension and long-term memory which improves with an individual previous schemata or experiences in the English language. Reading English is psycholinguistic which makes schemata helpful in reading and comprehension.

Varaprasad, (2016) confirms that English readers with schemata or previous exposure to English have an advantageous position compared to those without any English experience because of effective cognitive reading strategies developed. Studies that provide English learners with a background knowledge of English improve their comprehension through the creation of mental text representation. Lack of former cross-cultural experiences of learners makes it more difficult to learn and understand English.


Bonyadi, A, Nikoo, R., F, & Kashani, H., M, (2013). European Online Journal of Natural and Social Science; The Role of Schema or Background Knowledge Activation and Graphic Organizer on Increasing Iranian EFL Learners Reading Comprehension. 2(2) 229-241.

Kristina Robertson, K (2009). Connect Students' Background Knowledge to Content in the ELL Classroom. Available from

Lent, C., R, (2012). Overcoming Textbook Fatigue. Background Knowledge: The Glue That Makes Learning Stick. North Beauregard St. Alexandria.

Nelson, G, & Schmid, S (1989). Journal of ESL Reading: Schema Theory and Standardized Tests. 23(3) 539-543. Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL)

Varaprasad, C, (2016). Schema Theory. Teaching Reading in an ESL and EFL Setting: A Comparison. Available from


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