Academic journal article English Language Teaching

The Impact of Task Type and Cognitive Style on Vocabulary Learning

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

The Impact of Task Type and Cognitive Style on Vocabulary Learning

Article excerpt


Vocabulary knowledge influences the learners' performance so remarkably that success in all language skills is closely related to it. This vital role necessitates studies focusing on the most effective programs of teaching vocabulary. In this study, we aimed to explore the impact of static versus dynamic task type and the possible interaction with field dependence/independence cognitive style on learning English vocabulary among intermediate EFL learners. Eighty four female EFL learners studying at the BS level at the University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences aged 19-25 were randomly selected and given a Cognitive Style Test and a Nelson Proficiency Test (2000 A) to be assigned to either of the control and experimental groups matched for their vocabulary knowledge and cognitive style. Although the two groups were exposed to identical reading passages during classes held twice a week in the four-month treatment period, the control group received vocabulary instruction through static task type technique based on the traditional approach to teaching vocabulary while the experimental group underwent dynamic task type technique. The Nelson Proficiency Test was once more used as the post-test to show the differences in vocabulary gain in the two groups. The collected data were analyzed through ANOVA, using SPSS software. The results showed that vocabulary instruction led to favorable results among field-dependent learners taught by the dynamic task type technique and poorest performance in field-dependent students exposed to the static task type technique while field-independent learners better performed through the static task-type technique. Task type significantly influences vocabulary learning and may marginally affect reading comprehension performance.

Keywords: task-type, static task, dynamic task, task-based instruction, field dependence/independence

1. Introduction

After decades of neglect, in the past two or three decades L2 vocabulary learning and teaching has become an object of considerable interest among researchers, teachers, and materials developers (Carter, 1988; Coady & Huckin, 1997; Nation, 1990; Schmitt & McCarthy, 1997). According to Schmitt (1997), a vocabulary learning strategy is any strategy that results in the learning of vocabulary. This particularly covers vocabulary teaching strategies as well because they are also meant to lead to vocabulary learning. Nowadays, it is generally accepted that vocabulary teaching should be part of the syllabus, and taught in a well-planned and regular basis. Some authors, following Lewis (1993), argue that vocabulary should be at the centre of language teaching, because 'language consists of grammaticalized lexis, not lexicalised grammar'. Read's review of the field (2004) has revealed a lack of research on issues concerning classroom-teaching of vocabulary. Meanwhile, there is nothing more than "good advice" on how to teach words offered by Nation (1990, 2001) and Lewis (1993). Therefore, vocabulary teaching, using an effective technique, needs to be established as an area of research.

Regarding research strategies in dealing with teaching vocabulary, this area must fit into a greater and broader framework of a language course. Seeing a language course as consisting of any of the following four strands is one way of ensuring that there is a balanced range of learning opportunities:

A. Learning from meaning-focused input- learning through listening and reading

B. Deliberate language-focused learning- learning from being taught sounds, vocabulary, grammar, and discourse (sometimes called form-focused instruction, language-focused learning)

C. Learning from meaning-focused out-put- learning by having to produce language in speaking and writing (main attention in this strand is on communicating messages)

D. Developing fluency- becoming quick and confident at listening, speaking, reading, and writing (Vocabulary must not only be known, but also readily available for use. …

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