Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Enhancing Lexical Knowledge through L2 Medium Tasks

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Enhancing Lexical Knowledge through L2 Medium Tasks

Article excerpt


The purpose of the present study was to investigate the L2 use rate in EFL classrooms through introducing three task conditions in learning lexical items. Date were collected from a group of freshman university students (male and female) studying in Islamic Azad university of Sabzevar, Iran. (N=73). Based on their performance on a Michigan TOEFL reading test battery, they were first randomly divided into three groups, each completing one of the three vocabulary learning tasks that varied in the amount of L1/L2 use they induced during a two month period. The tasks were 'Reading plus further L2 reading', 'Reading plus L1 translation only' and 'dictionary work'. The statistical analysis of the students' performance on vocabulary post-tests was performed through One-Way ANOVA followed with the post hoc Regression Scheffe test to analyze which task has created a meaningful mean variability at 0/05 for both between and within groups. The results showed the outperformance of the group receiving 'reading plus further L2 reading' tasks and not the tasks involving more L1 use. (p:<0.05) Possible implications of the study are presented in the light of Task Load Involvement Hypothesis by (Laufer & Hulstijn, 2001).

Keywords: language tasks, vocabulary learning, L2 medium, involvement load hypothesis, L1 word equivalent, input saliency, recall

1. Introduction

In EFL settings where the learners are engaged in learning thousands of new words, teachers might be very much interested in the proper ways to maximize the learners' vocabulary knowledge. This matter gets even more important when various recent research projects focus specifically on the direct relationship of the learners' lexical knowledge and EFL success esp., reading comprehension skills, the one most important skill among the three other skills of writing, speaking & listening. (Decarrico, 2001; Poulisse & Schils, 1995; Lawson & Hogben, 1996). The emphasis on lexical item even sometimes extends to the whole success evaluation in learning another language. Zimmerman, (1997) asserts, "vocabulary is central to language and of critical importance to the typical language learner." In other words, we may even go so far as to say that maximizing vocabulary knowledge range is central to language acquisition whether the language is first, second or foreign.

1.1 Context of the Problem

In Iranian educational centers where uni-skill language processing is current, reading passages are rather long containing approximately 600-800 words each thus needing previous elaboration techniques by the teachers. In each lesson, 10-15 new words are introduced initially. Unfortunately the time normally allocated to teaching this part of the lesson hardly reaches more than 20 minutes or so. Hence, a suitable way of presenting vocabulary in EFL classes is of major importance to learners. In fact, more elaboration techniques must be manipulated by the teachers since the direct connection of lexical knowledge and better reading comprehension has been vigorously confirmed in other recent research experiments too." (Hunt, Belgar 2005: 24 & Zimmerman 1997: 5).

1.2 The Significance of the Study

A huge bulk of research data on lexical knowledge involvement is concerned with incidental vocabulary learning. In the present research, a special attention is paid to involving the learners in their routine classroom situations at which the specified tasks are deliberately incorporated to maximize their lexical knowledge for their intentional English words.

It's true that designing appropriate tasks by the teachers seems to be one of the effective measures to be done by the language teachers; however, in reality much gets neglected by many EFL teachers and mostly the same reutilized classroom activities are followed like fill in the blanks and matching items and even worse mostly through the medium of L1. Christensen (2007) (cited in Mehrabi 2011) claimed that a great deal of second language vocabulary can be learned through reading, but at the same time he refers to the "beginner's paradox" by raising doubts about the ability of beginners to learn vocabulary through extensive reading when they do not know enough words to read well. …

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