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The Effects of Cultural Familiarity in Planned Reading on College Freshmen's Incidental Vocabulary Learning
Dr. Chih-Cheng Lin
incidental vocabulary learning
參與研究者主要是三十四名來自於國立台灣師範大學教育學院和文學院的非英語系學生。他們根據聽力和閱讀分級測驗的總分，被分派到大一英文中高級程度的班級。其中，閱讀分級測驗測試受試者大致的英文閱讀能力，之後的問卷測量受試者對五篇文章的文化熟悉度（這些文章是以Dale-Chall Readability Formula為標準從光華雜誌中選出）。然後，他們接受二十個目標字彙的前測。這些目標字彙的選出，是依照College Entrance Examination Center (CEEC)的字彙分級，以及在文章中出現的頻率為標準。每隔一週閱讀一篇選文，並接受隨後的閱讀測驗和當篇所選出四個目標字彙的中測。藉由比較目標字彙前、中測的成績，來判定受試者的字彙增長程度。在讀完第五篇選文的四週後，對所有二十個目標字彙進行後測，比較前、後測成績來測出字彙保留的程度。最後，接受本研究者的訪問，以探討他們對每篇選文熟悉或不熟悉的原因，以及是否在閱讀時，有給予目標字彙足夠且適當的注意。
The present study is aimed at investigating the effects of cultural familiarity in planned reading on EFL college freshmen’s incidental vocabulary learning. The influence of other relevant factors in the reading process, such as whether texts of less cultural familiarity, the participants’ better reading proficiency and text comprehension can more effectively enhance their lexical development will also be examined and discussed The participants were composed of thirty-four non-English-major freshmen in National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan, mainly from the colleges of education and liberal arts. They were categorized into intermediate-high level based on the sum of their scores in the listening and reading placement tests. The participants later completed a questionnaire surveying their perceived cultural familiarity of the five topics of the five selected articles. These articles were chosen from the Sinorama magazine based on Dale-Chall Readability Formula. They then sat the test measuring their prior knowledge about twenty target words in the form of Vocabulary Knowledge Scale in the pretest. These target words were selected based on these words’ levels (above 3) in a word list published by College Entrance Examination Center (CEEC) and their frequency of occurrence (at least twice) in the text. They read five assigned articles respectively in every other week to attain the global comprehension and answered five comprehension questions to measure their general understanding, and simultaneously took another immediate test regarding their knowledge of target words again. Their scores in target words between the pretest and the immediate test were compared to get their vocabulary gain. Four weeks after test 5, they took the posttest to assess their knowledge of twenty target words, their scores were compared with those in the pretest to get their vocabulary retention. Finally, they had interviews which investigated the reasons behind their evaluation on the cultural familiarity of each text and whether they allotted sufficient attention to target words. The findings reveal that all participants show significant vocabulary gain and retention in the target words among texts of disparate cultural familiarity. However, the differences in lexical development do not reach significance between more and less culturally familiar passages, which might be attributed to their perception reflected by ratings in Likert Scale that these five topics exhibit similar extent of cultural familiarity. Similarly, non-significant discrepancy in vocabulary learning is observed between learners with superior and inferior reading proficiency, and between those with more and less text comprehension. These might arise from ceiling effects, less amount of progress, felicitous definition in the pretest but inappropriate in the text by more proficient readers, and their less capable counterparts’ low self-evaluation of word knowledge in the pretest, which later renders greater degree of improvement. As for the correlations among all variables, no significance is detected in the relationships the participants’ reading proficiency and performance in text comprehension bears with their lexical development. Based on further detailed analysis, inconsistent results are shown in the correlations learners’ cultural familiarity of each topic, reading proficiency, reading comprehension have with their vocabulary gain and retention, which displays significant or insignificant, positive or negative from test to test. With regard to pedagogical implications for foreign language instructors, some Taiwanese culturally-related reading materials can be selected and integrated into their vocabulary teaching to enhance students’ vocabulary gain and retention. Finally, it is suggested that future researchers probe further into this issue by soliciting more participants from different proficiency levels and adopting articles concerning culture of other countries.
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