Frontloading the Information Does The Trick in English Classrooms

One of my favorite topics is educational psychology and what it teaches us about how learners take in and process information.  Read more below:

Education Connections wrote:

How do you develop your pre-reading or pre-unit activities? Have you ever considered using schema theory as you develop your activities?

Schema theory is an approach to learning that posits that comprehension is not the process of direct transfer of information from text to self, but rather a complex and interwoven process of developing meaning through the navigation of textual information alongside the information and experiences a reader brings to a text (Anderson & Pearson, 1984; Widdowson, 1988).

Using schema theory, especially in pre-reading or pre-lesson based activities, can be a great way to help students access the instructional material both linguistically and socio-culturally (through background knowledge). By developing pre-reading and pre-lesson activities that examine learning and comprehension as the process of developing meaning through the navigation of both textual information and extra-textual information (e.g. prior knowledge, background knowledge, experience), you can also empower students to realize what they already know and think (Ajideh, 2003).

Take a look at this article for a closer look at schema theory and how to better support learners (especially ELs) by applying it to pre-reading and pre-learning activities.

Or, for further information on schema theory and its applications and limitations in EL literacy learning, check out this resource.


Ajideh, P. (2003). Schema theory-based pre-reading tasks: A neglected essential in the ESL reading class. The Reading Matrix, 3(1), 1-14.

Anderson, R.C. and Pearson, P.D. (1984) “A Schema-Theoretic View of Basic Processes in Reading Comprehension”, in Carrell, P.L., Devine, J. and Eskey, D.E. (eds) (1988) Interactive Approaches to Second Language Reading. Cambridge: CUP.

Widdowson, H. (1988). Aspects of the relationship between culture and language. Triangle 7: Culture and language learning. Goethe Institute/The British Council/AUPELF. Paris: Didier Erudition, pp. 13-22.


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