The Effects of Vocabulary Enhancement Instruction and Reading Only Instruction on EFL Senior High School Students’ Vocabulary Acquisition in the Context of a Reading Program

  • Wen-Shan Hsu

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Incidental vocabulary learning can offer a lot of help to readers. However, it appears insufficient because not many EFL students can engage in extensive reading. Therefore, the researcher wanted to combine the classroom instruction with extensive reading to ensure that incidental vocabulary acquisition took place. She also wanted to enhance EFL students’ vocabulary acquisition by using vocabulary exercises. The purpose of this study was to investigate the comparison of EFL senior high school students’ vocabulary acquisition between vocabulary enhancement instruction (Reading Plus Treatment) and reading only instruction (Reading Only Treatment) in the context of a reading program. Subjects were 50 third-year male intermediate-level students in a senior high school in Taiwan and they were taught in these two treatments. In the Reading Plus (RP) treatment, subjects read selected texts on two themes and answered comprehension questions, and then they did a series of vocabulary exercises. Likewise, in the Reading Only (RO) treatment, subjects read the same selected texts on two themes and answered comprehension questions. Then, instead, they had to read the supplementary texts especially composed to present the target words again from the main texts. As for the measurement, Vocabulary Knowledge Scale (VKS) was used as pre-test, post-test, and delayed-recall test to all the subjects, and a questionnaire, too. The major findings are summarized as follows:
  1. Students in both groups (RP and RO) gained in their knowledge of target words.
  2. The RP group led to greater gains and greater retentions than the RO group did.
  3. For the RP group, the high proficiency level students neither significantly acquired nor forgot more target words than the low proficiency level counterparts did, yet they did significantly retain more words than the low ones did three months after the instruction. As for the RO group, the high and low proficiency level students’ performances did not differ at a significant level on vocabulary acquisition, forgetting, and retention. It may imply that for a long-term effect, the RP treatment was more advantageous for the high proficiency level students.
  4. Both groups showed quantitative (words known vs. unknown) and qualitative (the “depth” of vocabulary knowledge) vocabulary gains as measured by VKS.
  5. Students in both groups considered the treatments useful and appropriate. They estimated that they had learned about 54% of all the target words. Besides, they preferred narrative articles to expository articles.
  In conclusion, although multiple encounters with target words during reading led to increased vocabulary knowledge, it was more effective for EFL students to combine reading with vocabulary enhancement activities to guide and focus their attention on specific target words for more effective vocabulary learning.
Date of Award2005
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorHui-Tzu Min (Supervisor)

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