Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

On the Effects of a Specialized Vocabulary- Training Application on the Development of English Vocabulary among Iranian High School Students

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

On the Effects of a Specialized Vocabulary- Training Application on the Development of English Vocabulary among Iranian High School Students

Article excerpt

1.Introduction

Vocabulary learning is an essential aspect of mastering a second or foreign language (L2). Knowledge of words is fundamental to both comprehension and production in reading, listening, speaking and writing activities. In instructional settings, providing learners with a variety of information about a word enhances vocabulary learning. Research also suggests that vocabulary annotations are not equally effective for all learners. For example, research indicates that pictorial annotations illustrating the meaning of a word in a reading passage have lasting effects on word retention. Research also suggests that vocabulary annotations are not equally effective for all learners. Individual learner differences determined by, for instance, distinct cognitive styles and/or learning preferences influence learners' abilities to benefit from particular vocabulary annotations for learning. Pictures are potentially more valuable for visual learners than for verbal learners. (Rimrott, 2010)

Yet, vocabulary annotations are still underexplored. For instance, audio annotations require further investigation. In addition, it is unclear how word concreteness impacts the effectiveness of vocabulary annotations. This paper fills some of the research gaps surrounding vocabulary learning in computer-assisted language learning (CALL). With their multimedia capabilities, CALL programs can provide word annotations such as pictures, audio pronunciations and / or written definitions to assist in the language learning process. Due to convenient tracking capabilities, they can also answer questions concerning the effectiveness of multimedia annotations for different learners. This knowledge will contribute to constructing effective CALL programs that are tailored to individual learners' needs. Finally, questions surrounding the effect of features of the computer environment itself on learning outcomes can be explored with CALL programs (Rimrott.A, 2010).

2.Review of the Literature

2.1. Vocabulary acquisition

There are different pairs of modes on vocabulary learning. In this paper the term 'incidental vocabulary acquisition', discussed in Eysenck (1982) as one of our theoretical foundation, will be used. Incidental vocabulary learning in this paper means that learners are required to finish a task involving the processing of some unfamiliar words without being told in advance that they will be tested afterwards on their recall of the meanings of those novel words. It is different from implicit vocabulary learning which holds that the meaning of a new word is acquired totally Subconsciously as a result of abstraction from repeated exposure in a range of activated contexts. Implicit learning can be incidental only, but incidental vocabulary learning can include both implicit and explicit learning since "linking word form to word meaning is an explicit learning which holds that there is some benefit to vocabulary acquisition from the learner noticing novel vocabulary, selectively attending to it, and using a variety of strategies to try to infer its meaning from the context" (Ellis, 1994: p219). At the same time, it cannot be claimed that vocabulary learning here is an indirect learning since we have vocabulary exercises in our reading tasks including guessing words from context and using target words to make sentences which belong to vocabulary learning. The controlled experiments in the present study aim at investigating the effects of varying reading tasks on learners' vocabulary retention. Therefore, the term incidental learning is used as an opposing concept of intentional learning. The participants are required to read the passages with an intention to understand them and answer some comprehension questions but not with an intention to learn the target words. It is in this sense that learning of the target words is incidental.

Although the learners acquire vocabulary incidentally through reading, they also need to process the unfamiliar words in order to understand the contents of the passages. …

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