Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Effects of Hierarchy Vocabulary Exercises on English Vocabulary Acquisition

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Effects of Hierarchy Vocabulary Exercises on English Vocabulary Acquisition

Article excerpt

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to compare the effectiveness of hierarchy vocabulary exercises and copying vocabulary exercises on EFL students' vocabulary acquisition and reading comprehension. Two specific factors were probed: (a) vocabulary gains and retention from different exercises; (b) reading comprehension performance through different exercises. Fifty-six Grade 5 students in Yanpu Elementary School in Taiwan were engaged in either hierarchy vocabulary exercises or copying vocabulary exercises, with sixteen target words. The results revealed that the experimental group receiving hierarchy vocabulary exercises significantly outperformed the control group receiving copying vocabulary exercises on students' performance of vocabulary gains, reading comprehension, as well as short-term and long-term word memory retention. A positive correlation between vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension was also inspected. It was, therefore, concluded that hierarchy vocabulary exercise was a more effective exercise type for vocabulary acquisition and reading comprehension.

Keywords: hierarchy exercise, copying exercise, vocabulary knowledge, word retention, reading comprehension

1. Introduction

1.1 Introduce the Problem

Vocabulary acquisition may be considered to be the main problem in learning the English language (Amiryousefi, 2011; Green & Meara, 1995).When teaching a new language, we place great emphasis on the importance of acquiring a useful vocabulary. In the EFL context, there can be no doubt that a limited vocabulary would impede language learning because vocabulary undergirds the four components of language, namely: listening, speaking, reading, and writing (Nam, 2010). It has become a matter of great concern that learners should be given effective instruction and exercises to expand their vocabulary. It is evident that to help learners store and retrieve the target words, language teachers should utilize pedagogical methods effectively (Ramachandran & Rahim, 2004; Kargozari & Ghaemi, 2011). Schneider and Evers (2009) mentioned that non-native speakers of English who showed limited English proficiency needed to be given sufficient language processing skills and instructional practice. Moreover, explicit instruction for learning new words can aid learners of a second language to increase their vocabulary and also promote their reading ability (Taylor, Mraz, Nichols, Rickelman, & Wood, 2009). Vocabulary knowledge is foundational to good reading (Guo & Roehrig, 2011; Nagy, 1988; Stahl & Nagy, 2006). Vocabulary exercises are one of the approaches frequently used by English teachers to improve EFL learners' retention of target words (Kan, 2010). Previous research concurred that doing vocabulary exercises after having read the work is outstanding for vocabulary retention (Zimmerman, 1997) and reading comprehension (.Spencer, 2000) However, very little research has been done concerning the effects of different types of exercises. This study fills the gap by comparing two of the vocabulary exercises: hierarchy vocabulary exercises and copying vocabulary exercises.

1.2 Vocabulary Knowledge in Relation to Reading Comprehension

A wealth of research has emphasized the positive connection between vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension (Al Ghafli, 2011; Baba, 2007; Gauthier, 1991; Guo & Roehrig, 2011; Mezynski, 1983; Nagy & Herman, 1988; Stahl & Nagy, 2006; Rashidi & Khosravi, 2010; Spencer, 2000). It is a fundamental component of language learning that vocabulary knowledge determines learners' comprehension of texts (Rashidi & Khosravi, 2010). To be able to read texts effectively, adequate knowledge of high frequency and supplementary words were taken to be a prerequisite (Rashidi & Khosravi, 2010).Although the explanation of the relationships between vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension was seen to be complicated, the strong and positive inter-correlations found among learners' vocabulary size, depth of vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension implied that vocabulary knowledge directly influenced reading comprehension (Qian, 1998). …

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