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Research Perspectives in Language and Education

by David Hirsh (Volume editor)
©2022 Edited Collection 276 Pages
Series: Linguistic Insights, Volume 289

Summary

Building on contemporary research developments, this collection of studies focuses on vocabulary size, vocabulary knowledge and writing, affix knowledge, pronunciation, translanguaging, language learning strategies, considerations of oral participation and academic adaptation. Insights shared in the edited volume are informed by pedagogy in the context of Australia, Chile, China, Indonesia, Japan and Thailand, and at various levels of the education system. The theoretical discussions, methodologies adopted and implications discussed inform future research avenues in the areas of language and education.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Introduction (David Hirsh)
  • Section 1 Studies of Vocabulary
  • The Relationship between Vocabulary Size and Reading Ability: Measuring Vocabulary Size both Receptively and Productively (Xuan Wang)
  • The Role of Vocabulary Knowledge in Second Language Writing (Yan Li)
  • A Taxonomy of English Affix Acquisition in EFL Learners (Apisak Sukying)
  • Section 2 Studies of Language and Education
  • Pronunciation Instructions in Japanese Elementary School English Textbooks (Makoto Takenoya)
  • EFL Learner Perceptions on Translanguaging (Rahma Fitriana / David Hirsh)
  • Use of Language Learning Strategies in Textbooks: A Comparative Study (Mariana Sáez)
  • To Speak or Not To Speak: Chinese International Students’ Considerations of Oral Participation and Quietness in Australian Tutorials (Wenjun Bu / David Hirsh)
  • Academic Adaptation of International Students in Higher Education (Qian Yang / David Hirsh)
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Series Index

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David Hirsh

Introduction

This volume brings together studies in vocabulary, language and education, reflecting learning and education in Australia, Chile, China, Indonesia, Japan and Thailand. Each study arrives at an enhanced understanding of important constructs affecting students at various levels of the education system.

In the volume’s first chapter, Xuan Wang examines the relationship between vocabulary size and reading ability in her quantitative study of high school students in China. Exploring vocabulary knowledge in the receptive and productive dimensions, the study offers theoretical insights into the predictive strength of measures of vocabulary size on subsequent reading comprehension.

Following this, Yan Li discusses the theoretical nature of vocabulary knowledge and its role in second language writing, looking in fine detail at current understandings in this under-researched area of study. This theoretical paper presents current understandings of the relationship between measures of receptive and productive vocabulary knowledge, expert ratings of writing quality, and expert ratings of the vocabulary component in writing.

In his empirical chapter, Apisak Sukying constructs a detailed representation of affix acquisition in English through a study of high school students in Thailand, arriving at a suggested five-stage order of affix acquisition for his participant group. This leads to a discussion of the effect of affix knowledge on vocabulary acquisition, with pedagogical implications for the language classroom.

Adopting a text analysis approach, Makoto Takenoya analyses pronunciation features appearing in 14 textbooks used in second language learning programs in elementary schools in Japan. Exploring both segmental and suprasegmental aspects of pronunciation, the study suggests ways in which EFL textbooks could more effectively attend to ←7 | 8→pronunciation to reflect current understandings of the role of pronunciation in language learning and language use.

In their co-authored paper, Rahma Fitriana and David Hirsh shed light on student perceptions towards translanguaging practices among bilingual university students in Indonesia in a language classroom setting. The study presents a multifaceted model of student perceptions of translanguaging, with suggestions that a translanguaging approach to language use in the classroom can be facilitative of learning in various dimensions.

Mariana Sáez examines language learning strategy activities appearing in textbooks at three levels of the education system (Grades 5, 7 and 9) in language classrooms in Chile. Exploring memory, cognitive and metacognitive strategies, the study displays patterns of strategy use in the textbooks in a general sense, and also across the three grade levels reflective of students at different stages of language learning.

Wenjun Bu and David Hirsh explore Chinese students’ considerations of oral participation and quietness during tutorials in a postgraduate coursework program in an Australian university. The findings shed light on the underlying considerations of Chinese international students’ choice to speak or not to speak in Australian tutorials, and their perceptions towards quietness in tutorials.

In the final chapter of the volume, Qian Yang and David Hirsh investigate the adaptation experiences of international students in a postgraduate coursework program in an Australian university. The study offers a series of suggestions for improving international student experiences and performance in higher education, particularly for students from East Asia studying in Anglo-Western universities.

This volume presents a range of research methodologies and, in this regard, there are insights offered for future research students. Suggestions for further research are provided to guide research students seeking to embark on their own studies of language and education, as well as implications for language teachers, EFL textbook developers, and providers of international education.

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Xuan Wang

The Relationship between Vocabulary Size and Reading Ability: Measuring Vocabulary Size both Receptively and Productively

Introduction

Even though a lot has been written about how second language (L2) reading is related to vocabulary knowledge, there has been continuous interest in exploring their impacts on each other (Cheng/Matthews 2018; Laufer / Aviad-Levitzky 2017; Lawrence et al. 2019). Previous research has suggested that L2 reading is a promising approach to expanding L2 learners' vocabulary knowledge and enhancing their acquisition progress (Nakanishi 2015; Suk 2017; Vidal 2011). The contribution of vocabulary knowledge to reading ability, meanwhile, has been indicated in studies on lexical coverage, suggesting that sufficient vocabulary is required in the comprehension of written discourses (Laufer 2013; Schmitt et al. 2011; Webb/Macalister 2013).

Although notable correlations between vocabulary knowledge and reading ability have been found (Cervetti et al. 2016; Stæhr 2008), one issue still in need of consideration is whether the full nature of vocabulary knowledge has been explored when explaining its role in L2 reading comprehension. For instance, whilst many studies in the literature have explored the relationship between reading ability and receptive vocabulary size, few studies could be identified that explore its relationship to productive vocabulary size. However, receptive and productive vocabulary knowledge relates to the different forms of word knowledge possessed by a language learner (Nation 2001; Webb 2009), and receptive vocabulary size does not fully explain the nature of vo←11 | 12→cabulary size. The current study aims to investigate the relationship between vocabulary size and L2 reading ability by measuring vocabulary size both receptively and productively. Exploring this relationship assists in enriching the measurements for vocabulary size, establishing a more comprehensive link between reading ability and vocabulary knowledge, and understanding the form-meaning interaction between receptive and productive vocabulary knowledge.

Literature Review

Receptive and productive vocabulary knowledge relates to the different forms of word knowledge

Vocabulary size can be measured scholarly through a number of approaches, particularly with the help of the constructs of receptive and productive vocabulary knowledge. A positive and significant correlation (r = 0.78) between receptive and productive vocabulary size has been found in the literature (Laufer 1998), and language learners’ receptive vocabulary size is larger than their productive vocabulary size (Fan 2000; Laufer 1998; Webb 2008). This is because receptive and productive vocabulary relate to the different forms of word knowledge possessed by a language learner, and productive learning is more difficult than receptive learning. In the receptive process, learners develop an understanding of the form of a word and begin to learn its meaning, but they may not necessarily use this word. Productive knowledge, on the other hand, is gained through a learner implementing their productive skills, such as speaking and writing. In addition, in formal language learning conditions, learners receive more practice in receptive rather than productive learning conditions, which may be a significant factor in accounting for differences in the amount of vocabulary acquired through receptive or productive learning.

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The relationship between receptive and productive vocabulary size varies from study to study due to learners’ varied language proficiency (Fan 2000), where researchers use measures that include full as well as partial knowledge (Webb 2008) and different modes of vocabulary instruction (Moskovsky et al. 2015). However, receptive and productive learning processes are not mutually exclusive, as there are productive features of receptive learning and vice versa. There are complex interactions between receptive and productive knowledge in language acquisition. For example, when listening or reading, learners not only receive knowledge of new words but also produce meaning. In a study by Webb (2009), receptive learning contributed more to receptive knowledge of meaning than productive learning, while productive learning resulted in higher achievement in multi-aspect vocabulary knowledge both receptively and productively. These findings indicated that solely employing productive learning of word pairs may be more effective than employing receptive learning of word pairs alone. As Zhong (2018) demonstrated, productive word use in prompted sentence writing was primarily related to receptive knowledge of form and meaning. Webb (2009) and Zhong’s (2018) studies both indicated the importance of productive learning in acquiring vocabulary, yet the interaction between receptive learning and productive vocabulary knowledge still requires further exploration. Accordingly, the breadth of productive vocabulary knowledge is a focus of the current study, and its interaction with receptive learning is also considered.

Divergent attitudes towards whether receptive vocabulary knowledge is the most important factor in influencing reading comprehension

Vocabulary size has been broadly employed when measuring L2 learners’ vocabulary knowledge because statistical analysis has demonstrated the notable contribution of vocabulary size to a learner’s ability to perform in a foreign language (Milton 2013). In a study by Stæhr (2008), English as a foreign language (EFL) learners’ vocabulary size – when measured receptively – correlated more strongly with their reading ability (0.83) than with their writing and listening (0.73 and 0.69) abilities. Stæhr (2008) investigated the contribution of receptive ←13 | 14→vocabulary size to these language abilities within groups of learners with a score above average in each individual skill: receptive vocabulary size was found to account for 72% of the variance in reading ability, 52% of the variance in writing ability, and 39% of the variance in listening ability. Studies focusing on lexical coverage also provide further academic evidence that acquiring sufficient vocabulary is essential to improving language learners’ reading ability, and vocabulary size assists with the degree to which they can comprehend reading materials (Laufer / Ravenhorst-Kalovski 2010; Nation 2006). Although the notable relationship between receptive vocabulary size and reading ability has been reported in the literature, divergent findings on this relationship have also emerged. Alavi and Akbarian (2012) stated that participants’ scores at low and middle levels in their study did not indicate significant correlations between five categories of the TOEFL reading test and receptive vocabulary knowledge. They suggested that learners’ proficiency levels and learning context may influence the relationship between their reading performance and vocabulary knowledge, and that this relationship is more complicated than previously thought.

Other factors, including syntactic knowledge (Shiotsu/Weir 2007), grammatical knowledge (Zhang 2012) and morphological awareness (Zhang 2017), have been explored to highlight a higher predictability than vocabulary size. All these knowledge types that demonstrated higher predictabilities are related to the form-meaning framework. For example, morphological awareness is based more strongly on the recognition of forms than meaning, and this not only links to receptive vocabulary knowledge but also relates to productive vocabulary knowledge. This is because controlled productive vocabulary knowledge not only requires learners to recognise meaning, but also requires them to produce the right forms of these words. However, vocabulary size in the studies by Shiotsu and Weir (2007) and Zhang (2012) and Zhang (2017) was only measured receptively rather than both receptively and productively. Receptive and productive vocabulary knowledge focuses on different dimensions in this form-meaning framework, and receptive vocabulary size cannot represent productive vocabulary size, let alone vocabulary size as a whole. Reasons for why other factors demonstrate a higher predictability than vocabulary size should also be considered. This could be due to the importance of these ←14 | 15→knowledge types themselves, but it could also be the result of exclusive dimensions of vocabulary size. Therefore, this highlights the importance of enriching the measurements for vocabulary size and the necessity to measure vocabulary size both receptively and productively when exploring the relationship between receptive vocabulary size and reading ability.

Enriching the measurements for vocabulary size when exploring the relationship between reading ability and vocabulary knowledge

In order to avoid representing the wrong form of vocabulary knowledge, Milton, Wade and Hopkins (2010) enriched the measurements for vocabulary size by investigating vocabulary knowledge in two different formats: written and aural tests. X-Lex (Meara/Milton 2003) was used to measure written vocabulary size and A-Lex (Mil-ton/Hopkins 2006) was employed to measure vocabulary size in an aural format. IELTS sub-scores from 30 English as a second language (ESL) intermediate- and advanced-level learners were used to represent their performance of four different learning skills. Milton et al. (2010) suggested that it was not necessary to measure vocabulary knowledge in both written and aural forms and that only one form is required. Although they deny the importance of aural forms when measuring the relationship between reading ability and vocabulary knowledge, their research has raised awareness of the need to enrich the measures used for vocabulary size.

Cheng and Matthews (2018) explored the predictive ability of receptive/orthographic vocabulary knowledge and productive/ortho-graphic vocabulary knowledge for L2 reading. Scores from 250 tertiary-level Chinese EFL learners illustrated that productive/ortho-graphic vocabulary knowledge explained 33% of the variance in the L2 reading scores, whilst receptive/orthographic vocabulary knowledge did not significantly contribute to this model. The format of controlled-production vocabulary levels test (Laufer/Nation 1999) was employed to measure productive/orthographic vocabulary knowledge. While this test is widely used to measure L2 productive vocabulary knowledge, it ←15 | 16→is context-dependent and relies on the receptive knowledge of participants who need to understand the meaning of sentences and then recall suitable words to fill the sentence gaps. Therefore, the measurement of productive/orthographic vocabulary knowledge in the study by Cheng and Matthews (2018) also depends on receptive vocabulary knowledge.

In summary, L2 learners require different dimensions of word knowledge to achieve sufficient receptive and productive vocabulary size; likewise, it is necessary to add the productive measures in order to fully assess the nature of vocabulary knowledge. While many studies in the literature have explored the relationship between reading ability and receptive vocabulary size, few studies could be identified that explore the relationship between reading ability and productive vocabulary size. This study endeavored to explore this link from three dimensions: the relationship between reading ability and receptive vocabulary size, the relationship between reading ability and controlled productive vocabulary size and, finally, the relationship between reading ability and free-productive vocabulary size.

Research Questions

The current study aims to explore the relationship between vocabulary size and reading ability by measuring vocabulary size both receptively and productively. In order to elaborate on the importance of measuring both receptive and productive vocabulary size, a dependent t-test was conducted to investigate whether receptive vocabulary size significantly differs from productive vocabulary size. Then, the second research question posed investigated the relationship between vocabulary size and reading ability by investigating to what extent three types of vocabulary size can predict the variance observed in L2 reading. Since learners’ proficiency levels and learning context may influence the relationship between their reading performance and vocabulary knowledge (Alavi/Akbarian 2012), two sub-questions were designed to explore this relationship with different groups of participants. The ←16 | 17→IELTS organisational website reports that Band 4 aligns to B1 in the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) when mapping IELTS tests to international standards, indicating that these learners have entered the stage of becoming independent users. Therefore, Band 4 (raw reading scores no lower than 15 out of 40) was used to distinguish higher-level participants from the sample. Accordingly, the specific research questions are as follows:

1. Does receptive vocabulary size significantly differ from productive vocabulary size?

Details

Pages
276
Year
2022
ISBN (PDF)
9783034344739
ISBN (ePUB)
9783034344746
ISBN (MOBI)
9783034344753
ISBN (Hardcover)
9783034342193
DOI
10.3726/b19346
Language
English
Publication date
2021 (December)
Published
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 276 pp., 15 fig. b/w, 22 tables.

Biographical notes

David Hirsh (Volume editor)

David Hirsh is Associate Professor at the University of Sydney where he teaches on the Master of Education (TESOL) program and supervises doctoral students in the areas of vocabulary studies and higher education. His research interests include second language vocabulary, second language writing and language revitalization. He has published widely in these areas of research.

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