First Advisor

Marjorie Terdal

Term of Graduation

Fall 1998

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

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


Applied Linguistics




Vocabulary -- Study and teaching (Higher), English language -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- Foreign speakers, Second language acquisition, English language -- Semantics



Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 165 pages)


Second Language Acquisition (SLA) theoreticians and educators disagree whether vocabulary should be explicitly taught in second language learning classrooms. These individuals are divided about the most efficient way for L2 learners to increase the size of their lexicons. This thesis proposes that explicit vocabulary instruction may significantly facilitate lexical acquisition for adult second language learners in academic contexts.

An experimental study designed to investigate the relationship between explicit vocabulary instruction and the rate of lexical acquisition is described. It was hypothesized that metacognitive strategy training in semantic mapping activities would significantly increase the rate of lexical acquisition for upper-intermediate university level adult learners of English as a second or foreign language.

Reading materials used for the experimental and control groups were news stories from an Internet web site (NewsDEN). NewsDEN (http://W\\-' was chosen for its unique tools which facilitate the teaching of semantic mapping. Forty-six students enrolled in an university level intensive English language program participated in this study. Subjects were divided into one treatment group (N=34) and one control group (N=l2). Both groups received instruction in an integrated-skills framework via active learning methods, and both were given extensive practice using the strategy of learning new vocabulary through context clues.

The independent variable was semantic mapping training. Subjects in the control group were taught vocabulary through the Survey, Question, Read, Review, Recite (SQ3R) method. This group received instruction in a regular classroom setting. Students in the experimental group were taught the same words through the Semantic Mapping method, which included direct semantic and phonological awareness training. Subjects in this group were given the treatment via the Internet.

Immediately prior to receiving the experimental and control treatments, each group was given a vocabulary comprehension pre-test containing unknown words. To measure subjects' long-term memory of these words, modified versions of the same tests were given two weeks later, and at the end of the ten week quarter. Although the Semantic Mapping group did have higher mean scores than the SQ3R group, no statistically significant differences were found between the test scores of the experimental and the control group.


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