Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Effect of Homonyms Instruction on Vocabulary Development and Retention of Iranian Young Female Elementary Efl Learners through Call-Mediated Tasks

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Effect of Homonyms Instruction on Vocabulary Development and Retention of Iranian Young Female Elementary Efl Learners through Call-Mediated Tasks

Article excerpt


Learning vocabulary is an important part of mastering in a second or foreign language for both teachers and students (Schmitt, 2000). It is essential to contemplate Wilkins' (1972) famous saying that "without grammar, very little can be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed" (p.111). Learning vocabulary is therefore perceived to be "of critical importance to the typical language learner" (Zimmerman, 1997, p. 5). With regard to the fact that most learners usually experience salient and significant difficulties in this respect, similarity between words as in homonyms is very problematic in this area too.

Homonyms are defined as two or more words which have the same spelling, or the same pronunciation, or both, but share different meanings. In this definition homonyms represent a big category from which two sub categories of homophones and homographs emerged. Diversity of lexical representations with one pronunciation in homophones, and also merging two distinctive words with different meanings under the domain of one form as in homographs are eristic and controversial issues, which are too disruptive not only to the students, but also to the teachers and native speakers. In this line, Mazzocco (1997) stated that learners may encounter some difficulties to derive the correct meaning of homonyms in context. He also argued that learning homonyms is more demanding especially for children; they may learn this kind of words more slowly than other new words.

Considering these facts, Takac (2008) posed that formal L2 vocabulary instruction should be according to various teaching techniques and activities in order to improve individual learning styles and break down the classroom routines. So, teachers can make use of technology in their instructional methods. Integration of technology enables them to broaden their horizons and widen their scope. Rahimpour (2000) pointed out that recent years have witnessed an explosion of interest in using computers for teaching and learning purposes. Therefore, researchers and teachers make unraveling efforts to link Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) into the curriculum (Lasagabaster & Sierra, 2003).

CALL is defined as "the search for and study of applications of the computer in language teaching and learning" (Levy, 1997, p.1). CALL programs provide a stimulus so that the learner must respond; the stimulus may be illustrated in any combination of texts, still images, sound, as well as motion videos (Ghabanchi & Anbarestani, 2008). The class in a CALL environment is more student-centered than teacher-centered; chances for cooperation are increased, and students spend a lot of time working together (Hawisher and Selfe, 1991; Brandl, 2002). More interactions between learners occur in computer-based learning, because students are dependent on themselves; besides, CALL environment is a stress-free and more relaxed atmosphere than the Traditional classrooms (Murphy, 1997; Roed, 2003). In this flow, this kind of instruction is the reminiscence of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) approach, which is a good supportive theoretical background for the present research. The CLT approach focuses on carrying out and implementing methodologies that are capable of enhancing learners' functional language ability through active involvement of them in authentic communication (Savignon, 2007). In this respect, the philosophy of CALL also put a strong emphasis on student-centered lessons that allows the students to be autonomous learners.

It should be noted that Multimedia CALL is a more recent approach to CALL. It favors a learnercentered approach to CALL, rather than a teacher- centered drill-based one; it is also presented by the use of some concordance programs in language classroom settings (Davies, Hewer, Rendall, & Walker, 2004). These kinds of programs make it possible to combine texts, graphics, sounds, pictures, and still (or motion) images, as well as animations, and video recordings in an imaginative style. …

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