Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Morphological Awareness and Vocabulary Knowledge: A Case of Correlation

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Morphological Awareness and Vocabulary Knowledge: A Case of Correlation

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Vocabulary knowledge is one of the language skills essential for fluent language use (Nation, 1993). Wilkins (1972) asserts, "without grammar, very little can be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed" (p.150).Regarding sounds, grammar, and vocabulary as three principle components of language, word knowledge plays a crucial role in language learning. Within the process of learning a language, words are so pervasive that learners absolutely can't underestimate the po wer they manifest. In order for the clarification of the role words as the building blocks of language play, Anglin, Miller, and Wakefield (1993) address them as a key to make language production as well as language comprehension possible. Moreover, Coady & Huckin (1997) stated that lexical competence is at the center of communicative competence.

The fact that vocabulary learning and teaching is a central activity in the L2 classroom cannot be taken for granted. Learning strategies is addressed to be one of the ways in which vocabulary learning can be fostered. The use of morphological awareness is considered to be a potential vocabulary learning strategy to learn novel vocabulary. Carlisle (1995, p.194) believes that" morphological awareness is defined as children's conscious awareness of the morphemic structure of words and their ability to reflect on and manipulate that structure".

On the account of the fact that students are able to understand a large number of complex words if they are able to decode them into smaller morphemic units (Ferguson, 2006), morphological knowledge has found its way to be largely investigated. There is now a growing and considerable concern on morphological knowledge as a crucial aspect of vocabulary knowledge and also promoting its size. According to some research conducted by Carlisle (2000); Kuo & Anderson (2006), morphological knowledge is correlated with vocabulary and comprehension. Considering all above, the aim of the present study, is to investigate the correlation between learners' vocabulary knowledge and morphological knowledge.

2. Literature review

Throughout the process of language learning, vocabulary size is considered as an indicator of how well the second language (L2) learners can perform language skills such as, reading, listening, and writing (Bear, Invernizzi, Templeton and Johnston, 2008; Treiman & Casar, 1996). According to Zimmerman (2005), vocabularies are the main carriers of meaning, in fact, the bigger individual's vocab ulary size, the higher general language proficiency. Learners and teachers can apply various strategies for teaching and learning vocabulary. Vocabulary learning strategy is the process, by which vocabulary is obtained, stored, retrieved, and used (Schmitt & McCarty, 1997).

On the basis of complexity of word knowledge construct, Nation (1990) offered eight aspects of word knowledge: (1) the spoken form of a word, (2) the written form of the word, (3) the grammatical feature of the word, (4) the collocation behavior of the word, (5) the frequency of the word, (6) the stylistic register constraints of the word, (7) the conceptual meaning of the word, and (8) the associations the word has with other related words. Nation (2001) points out, "if more than five percent of the running words are unknown, then it is likely that there is no longer meaning-focused learning because so much attention has to be given to language features" ( pp. 388-389). In order to evaluate learners' skill of using the language, the number of vocabularies they know is one of the principle scales. Nation (2001) puts an emphasis on the importance of developing an adequate high-frequency vocabulary which is of great importance especially in the early stages of learning a foreign language. Within this stage, 3,000 word families is considered to be a main threshold.

The fact that Language learners need more vocabulary is quite inevitable, and seeks its main proof in the issue of inadequate vocabulary knowledge. …

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