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Title: Investigating the impact of focusing on academic vocabulary using multiple assessment measures
Author: Alothman, Khalid
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 0772
Awarding Body: University of Roehampton
Current Institution: University of Roehampton
Date of Award: 2014
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The academic word list (AWL) is essential for EFL learners wishing to study at university level in English speaking universities. This list, together with the 2000 most common English words, is vital for learners’ comprehension of academic texts (Nation, 2006). However, the current practice of many presessional courses in the UK and English foundation courses elsewhere, e.g. Saudi Arabia, does not include the explicit teaching of the AWL within the curriculum, even though research has shown that direct teaching leads to higher pickup rates of the targeted words than implicit teaching (as in Sonbul and Schmitt, 2009). Academic vocabulary is mostly taught within other language input such as academic reading and listening, or made available for students for independent study. For this thesis, three studies have been conducted; the first investigated how much of the AWL is learned on typical presessional courses in an English speaking country - the UK. Two universities hosted this study, accommodating 103 participants in total. The second study investigated how much of the AWL is learned among students receiving two different methods of vocabulary teaching. This study took place at the Preparatory Year (PY) at KSU Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (the largest EFL project of its kind). Unlike most previous work, this study has used multiple measures to assess three levels of vocabulary knowledge: meaning recognition, written form recall aided by initial letters, and vocabulary richness in free-writing tasks. In the third study, learners and tutors were surveyed to state their beliefs, practices and experience in order to record their views concerning many issues regarding vocabulary teaching to advanced learners. The results show that EFL learners at this advanced stage of language study have a poor ability to produce academic words, regardless of their high performance in recognizing the AWL. III Their knowledge of the academic words was found to correlate with general vocabulary size and their ability to write academic words in free writing tasks. Furthermore, learners exposed to direct enhancement of the academic words during the Preparatory Year PY outperformed learners exposed to regular academic teaching in the course. Finally, regarding beliefs and feedback concerning vocabulary teaching, it was found that advanced learners appreciate direct lexical instruction more than implicit approaches, contradicting many common perceptions that advanced learners prefer implicit vocabulary learning. The results show further interesting variations in vocabulary gained and feedback regarding vocabulary teaching across the different groups identified. The implications of these findings for teaching and learning as well as assessment in the academic context are presented and discussed.
Supervisor: O’Sullivan, Barry ; Eppler, Eva Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available