Reading Comprehension of Multiethnic Literature in a Multiethnic Classroom: A Case Study of Malaysia

Mahzan Arshad, Abdul Jalil Othman, Chew Fong Peng


ABSTRACT: Teaching reading comprehension in a classroom with multiethnic students needs teachers who understand the differences in cultural background that the students brought from home. Teachers need to provide reading experiences that reflect their student’s cultural beliefs, behaviors and experiences to enhance students’ comprehension ability of the texts that they read in classroom. This paper presents findings of a study on the effects of multiethnic literature toward students reading comprehension. Using multiethnic literacy materials in English as a second language, classroom is a step in bridging the gap between the language and the students. At the same time, multiethnic literacy materials will give the student opportunity to foster appreciation of their culture and the culture of people from other ethnic who live in the country. Comprehension of readers in the study to multiethnic literature were significantly effected by the cultural backgrounds from which they come. The study suggests that students should be provided with opportunity improve their reading comprehension by reading literacy materials that reflect their own ethnic background.

KEY WORDS: reading comprehension, multiethnic literature, multicultural education, ethnic background, and reading in English as a second language.


About the Authors: Associate Professor Dr. Mahzan Arshad, Dr. Abdul Jalil Othman and Dr. Chew Fong Peng are Lecturers at the Department of Language and Literacy Education, Faculty of Education UM (University of Malaya) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. For academic purposes, they can be reached at:, and

How to cite this article? Arshad, Mahzan, Abdul Jalil Othman & Chew Fong Peng. (2009). “Reading Comprehension of Multiethnic Literature in a Multiethnic Classroom: A Case Study of Malaysia” in EDUCARE: International Journal for Educational Studies, Vol.1(2) February, pp.119-128. Bandung, Indonesia: Minda Masagi Press owned by ASPENSI in Bandung, West Java; and FKIP UMP in Purwokerto, Central Java, ISSN 1979-7877.

Chronicle of the article: Accepted (December 21, 2008); Revised (January 23, 2009); and Published (February 17, 2009).

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