This study explores whether culture-specific rhetorical conventions affect the reading recall of Chinese EFL college students at two grade levels. Four English passages verified as texts that used Chinese rhetorical conventions were modified into four counterpart versions reflecting English rhetorical conventions. One hundred twenty Taiwanese Freshmen and 120 Seniors read two of the four topics, one in each rhetorical convention. After each reading, students completed a Text-Perception Questionnaire, and performed an immediate recall. One week later, participants wrote delayed recalls and completed a Topic-Assessment Questionnaire. Although students failed to perceive rhetorical differences, different rhetorical convention had a significant overall effect on Chinese students' reading comprehension in both immediate and delayed recall.
Moreover, post hoc comparisons revealed that two topics among the four reflected in the eight texts showed more impact from rhetorical convention than did the others. Analysis of questionnaire data suggested that factors such as topic interest and topic familiarity moderated the effect of rhetorical convention. The study concludes with suggestions for future research and classroom implications.