Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Effect of Reading Academic Texts on Learning and Retention of Academic Vocabulary: Investigating the Role of Model Essay

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Effect of Reading Academic Texts on Learning and Retention of Academic Vocabulary: Investigating the Role of Model Essay

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

"Vocabulary is a core component of language proficiency and provides much of the basis for how well learners speak, listen, read, and write" (Richards & Renandya, 2002, p.255). Similarly, Sedita (2005) emphasizes the significance of knowledge of vocabulary sinc e' it consists of all lexical items which we have to be familiar with as a means of conveyance of our meanings and of effective communication. Accordingly, educators and educational researchers from all around the world for years emphasized that vocabulary knowledge plays a significant role in reading comprehension and more importantly in making an efficient verbal and nonverbal communication (Hirsh & Nation, 1992; Laufar, 1997; Nation, 2001; Coxhead & Nation, 2001).

Nation (1990, P. 2-3) states three strong reasons to emphasize the necessity of a systematic and principled approach to vocabulary by both teachers and learners. The first of them is, because the considerable research on vocabulary we have good information about what to do about vocabulary and about what vocabulary to focus on. The second reason is to show that there is a wide variety of ways for dealing with vocabulary in foreign or second language learning. The third reason for emphasizing the necessity of a systematic and principled approach to vocabulary is that, both teachers and students see vocabulary as being a very important, if not the most important, element in language learning (p. 3).

Having, a limited vocabulary is considered a serious barrier for reading comprehension and consequently a barrier to improve one's mental lexicon. As Hunt and Beglar (2005) mention: "the heart of language comprehension and use is the lexicon". Furthermore, Doran ore (1989) takes the view that vocabulary growth results in promotion of reading comprehension. Some researchers (e.g. Läufer 1986; Nation 1990) believe that many of learners' difficulties, both receptively and productively, result from an inadequate vocabulary, and even when they are at higher levels of language competence and performance, they still feel in need of learning vocabulary. One of the research implications about the importan«' of vocabulary is that "lexical competence is at the heart of communicative competence" (Meara, 1996, p.35). This is the case in first language (LI) contexts (Anderson & Freebody, 1981) and in second language (L2) contexts (Läufer, 1991).

Based on what Hwang and Nation (1995) Haim, knowledge of the 2,000 most frequent word families enables L2 readers to recognize 84% of the words in various types of authentic texts. This falls well short of the 95% of words which Läufer (1991,1992) indicated needs to be recognized for unassisted reacting, and which would require a minimum vocabulary size of 3,000 word families. More recently, research has provided some evidence with respect to the question what constitutes a suffident number of words for different tasks. For participating in an everyday conversation it is assumed a learner needs 2,000-3,000 of the most frequent English words (Adolphs and Schmitt 2003), whilst s/he needs 5,000 words to begin to read authentic texts (Schmitt 2007) and around 10,000 for starting an academic degree course (Hazenberg and Hulstijn 1996, as dted tir Daller & Milton, 2013).

According, to many researchers, there is a general consensus on reading as one of major sources of vocabulary learning (Nagy, Herman et al. 1985; Day, Omura et al. 1991; Hulstijn 1992; Dupay & Krashen 1993; Levine Ferenz & Reves 2000; Nation 2001; Krashen 2004; Waring & Nation 2004; Horst 2005; Pigada & Schmitt 2006; Huang & Liou 2007; Mur 2008; Schmitt 2008; Paqout, 2010). Such claim is also applicable to EAP situation as the ability to read academic texts is considered the most important skill that university student of ESL or EFL need to acquire. Indeed, good reading comprehension is essential not only to academic learning in all subject areas but also to professional success and, indeed, to lifelong learning (Pritchard, Romeo, & Muller, 1999). …

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