English web page use in an EFL setting: A contrastive rhetoric view of the development of information literacy

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The nonlinear and interactive nature of Internet searches makes them quite different from other types of reading acts. This chapter describes a study that investigated how English as a foreign language (EFL) Internet users in a Chilean university community approached English language websites and databases. Participants were observed in computer workshops, surveyed, interviewed, and asked to use a think-aloud protocol while navigating unfamiliar websites in English. Contrastive rhetoric and schema theory were used to interpret the findings. English-specific problems included word order confusions and incorrect interpretations of synonyms. Among the younger participants, level of English proficiency did not correlate highly with skill in finding information over the Internet. Differences between user schemata and Web page layouts were found to negatively affect some information search attempts. Pedagogical implications are discussed.


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