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A Comparative Study of Incidental Vocabulary Acquisition and Intentional Vocabulary Learning of Chinese English Majors

Author: LiuHuiJuan
Tutor: LouBaoCui
School: Henan Normal
Course: Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords: vocabulary acquisition incidental vocabulary acquisition intentional vocabulary learning
CLC: H319
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2011
Downloads: 129
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Vocabulary acquisition is an important aspect of second language acquisition. Second language vocabulary acquisition can be divided into incidental vocabulary acquisition and intentional vocabulary learning. Researches on incidental vocabulary acquisition abroad find out that incidental vocabulary acquisition can achieve better effect than intentional vocabulary learning for native learners. But there is not consensus on this conclusion in the comparative studies of incidental vocabulary acquisition and intentional vocabulary learning in China. And the effect differs from various language levels of second language learners. Whether the combination of the two learning modes will lead to better vocabulary acquisition? If it is, how they can be combined? More empirical studies should be conducted to explore efficient ways of how to combine the two learning modes together to achieve better effects of vocabulary acquisition.This research aims at comparing the effect of different learning modes on vocabulary acquisition. It mainly included two research questions: (1) in the immediate vocabulary test, which mode will achieve the best vocabulary acquisition, the IVA mode, the IVL mode or the IVA plus IVL mode? Which mode will achieve the lowest vocabulary acquisition? (2) In the delayed vocabulary test, which mode will achieve the best vocabulary retention? Which mode will achieve the lowest vocabulary retention?74 subjects in three parallel classes of Grade 3 of English major from a university have participated in this experiment. Incidental vocabulary acquisition, intentional vocabulary learning and Incidental vocabulary acquisition plus intentional vocabulary learning were carried out respectively on these three classes. The research procedure is as follows: (1) reading materials, target words, wordlist and vocabulary exercises were chosen for the preparation of the experiment; (2) to ensure the reliability of the experiment, a pre-test was carried out before the experiment to ensure that the difficulty of the reading material is appropriate to the subjects, those target words were unfamiliar to the subjects and time limit for those tasks in the experiment were also set up according to the pre-test; (3) three different vocabulary learning methods were carried out respectively on these three parallel classes. The intentional vocabulary learning group was required to recite the wordlist and finish those vocabulary exercises. The incidental vocabulary acquisition group was required to finish reading comprehension and write the main idea of the passage. The incidental vocabulary acquisition plus the intentional vocabulary learning group was required to finish the reading comprehension and recite the wordlist; (4) after those tasks were finished, an immediate vocabulary test was carried out and a delayed vocabulary test followed one week later. Vocabulary Knowledge Scale was applied to measure the effects of the depth of vocabulary acquisition. (5) After these two tests, the statistical software SPSS 17.0 was applied to analyze the statistical data in this experiment.There are mainly two findings in this study: (1) incidental vocabulary acquisition achieved the lowest effect of vocabulary acquisition and vocabulary retention; (2) intentional vocabulary learning and incidental vocabulary acquisition plus intentional learning achieved similar effect of vocabulary acquisition and vocabulary retention, but the latter mode performed slightly better than the former learning mode in both two aspects. Those results were analyzed from five different aspects: cognitive processing, involvement load hypothesis, context, noticing and attention and word exposure frequency.The results in this study have its implications for vocabulary learning and teaching. Second language learning should combine incidental vocabulary acquisition with intentional vocabulary learning to achieve better ends of vocabulary acquisition. Teachers should neither teach only vocabulary nor teach them only in context. They should combine context, vocabulary instruction and vocabulary exercises together for better results of vocabulary acquisition.

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CLC: > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Language teaching
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