First Advisor

Marjorie Terdal

Term of Graduation

Winter 1996

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


Applied Linguistics




Second language acquisition, English language -- Study and teaching -- Foreign speakers



Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 104 pages)


Research findings on the positive impact of interaction on comprehension have led to questions regarding both the connection between comprehension and acquisition and the qualities of interaction which facilitate understanding (Ellis et al. 1994). Ellis et al. found that a high degree of comprehension on an activity which contained unknown words correlated with a high rate of vocabulary acquisition. The present study replicates the activity and testing procedures used by Ellis et al. The main focus of the Ellis et al. study was the connection between second language comprehension and acquisition. This study differs from Ellis et al. in that its focus is the role of time in second language comprehension and acquisition.

The scope of this study is restricted to the following question: Is "time for processing" a significant factor in the comprehension of directions and acquisition of new vocabulary words?

Forty adult students of English as a second language followed directions to a task which contained unknown vocabulary words. The forty students were divided among five different ESL classes of the same ability level. Each class was read a different version of directions to the task. The various versions (linguistic environments) were different in regard to repetition and time lapse between utterances. Activity scores and pre/post test improvement were analyzed using a non-parametric Wilcoxon t-test and Kruskal-Wallis I-Way analysis of variance (ANOVA).

It was found that time + repetition led to significantly higher activity scores than the time only and the no-time + no-repetition environments. The time + repetition environments also outscored the repetition only environment. Pre/post-test scores improved significantly in all of the environments. However, an ANOVA found no statistically significant difference in improvement among the environments.

Major findings of this study are (1) students' activity scores improved in direct relation to the amount of time they were given to process information; (2) pre/post­test improvement occurred in all of the environments; (3) in contrast with Ellis et al., no correlation was found between high rates of comprehension and high rates of acquisition.


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