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Title: Vocabulary and reading medical texts
Author: Miller, P. W.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2003
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In both first language and foreign language contexts there has been considerable debate as to the exact nature of the relationship between readers' levels of vocabulary knowledge and their ability to comprehend texts. This research examines this relationship in detail and in particular addresses three specific issues: a) How important is vocabulary knowledge for Spanish speakers reading medical texts in English?; b) What levels of vocabulary knowledge are required by these readers for this task?; and c) What other factors influence the levels of vocabulary knowledge needed for successful text comprehension? Six experiments were carried out to investigate these questions. The results revealed that the importance of vocabulary knowledge varied considerably across the different experiments. No support was found for the contention that it is possible to establish for all readers and texts fixed levels of vocabulary which must be attained to ensure successful text comprehension. Three factors were identified as having a major impact on the levels of vocabulary knowledge needed by readers. These included the actual reading comprehension test method used to assess text comprehension, the levels of background knowledge available to the readers and the degree of domain-specificity of the texts being read. Although these three groups of variables each exerted an effect on the levels of vocabulary knowledge required for text comprehension individually, their effect can only be fully understood if the clear interaction which takes place between them is also taken into account. These results clearly confirm current theoretical models which see text comprehension as a complex process involving the interaction of multiple components. They also serve to underline the need to critically evaluate notions which at first sight seem commonsensical but which on closer analysis do not capture the full complexity of the processes being analysed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available