Table 4.6 Pairwise Comparisons result of delayed post-test
(I) delayed post-test
(J) delayed post-test
Mean Difference (I-J)
95% Confidence Interval for Difference
FR Form Recognition
MR Meaning Recognition
According to Table 4.6, no statistically significant difference was found between the form recognition test and meaning recognition test (P = 0.09) in the delayed post-test.
This table indicates that the learners’ performance in the delayed post-test in the form recognition test was statistically higher than their performance in the production test.
It also reveals that the learners’ performance in the delayed post-test in the meaning recognition test was statistically higher than their performance in the production test.
Having reported the results of the study, they are now discussed in more detail.
4.3.1. Research Question 1
The first research question was whether reading comprehension has any statistically significant effect on vocabulary form recognition by EFL learners or not.
Descriptive statistics (Table 4.1and 4.4) for the form recognition test indicated that the learners’ mean score in the post and delayed post tests were 17.77 and 18.20.
In other words, with regard to form recognition, learners on average correctly answered 88 and 91 percent of vocabulary items in the post and delayed post-test.
Thus, it can be concluded that reading comprehension was effective for promoting learners’ form recognition vocabulary knowledge. Therefore, the first hypothesis was rejected.
The results of number of previous studies also indicated that reading comprehension can benefit formal aspects of vocabulary knowledge.
In this regard, Waring and Takaki (2003) investigated the vocabulary learning gains from reading the simplified version of the novel A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett using three types of tests. The results showed that the participants recognized the word form of 61.2% and the meaning of 40% of the target words immediately after the reading, and were able to provide translation of 18.4% of the words. However, after three months these figures dropped to 33.6%, 25% and 3.6% respectively. This implies that although learners can acquire a significant number of words from reading, the learning effects may not be long lasting.
Similarly, Pigada and Schmitt (2006) investigated the acquisition of word meaning, spelling (word form) and grammatical knowledge. The results showed that there was improvement in the knowledge of all three aspects and they found that spelling was strongly enhanced, even from a small number of exposures, while meaning and grammatical knowledge were enhanced to a lesser degree.
In another study, Webb (2005) demonstrated that both reading and writing tasks had a positive effect on the five aspects of knowledge he tested: orthography, association, syntax, grammatical functions, and form-meaning.
Interestingly, Day and Swan (1998) investigated whether exposure to target words while reading could result in an incidental increase in learners’ spelling ability, and found a causal relationship between reading and spelling ability.
4.3.2. Research Question 2
The second research question asked if reading comprehension has any statistically significant effect on vocabulary meaning recognition by EFL learners, the results of descriptive statistics (Table 4.1 and 4.4) revealed that learners’ mean score in the post-test and delayed post-test were 18.67 and 17.05.
In other words, with regard to meaning recognition, learners on average answered 93.35 percent of vocabulary items in the post-test and 85.25 percent of vocabulary items in the delayed post-test correctly.
Thus, it can be concluded that reading comprehension was effective for promoting learners’ meaning recognition vocabulary knowledge. So, as a result of the second hypothesis that said reading comprehension has no statistically significant effect on vocabulary meaning recognition by EFL learners, was rejected.
The results of some previous studies also revealed that reading comprehension benefit meaning recognition of vocabulary knowledge and in some studied the opposite results were found.
In this regard, Pellicer-Sanchez and Schmitt (2010) investigated the acquisition of word form recognition(spelling), word class recall, and recognition and recall of meaning from reading the authentic novel Things Fall Apart.The result showed that learners scored lower on the spelling test (34%) than they scored on the meaning recognition test (43%). Authors interpreted this finding saying that “learning word form to a recognition level may be more difficult than learning meaning to the same level” (p.43).
According to Pellicer-Sanchez and Schmitt (2010), meaning recognition was the best learned word knowledge aspect, and this is perhaps not surprising as readers typically read for meaning. However, form recognition was learned to a somewhat lesser degree. Many teachers might believe that learning a word entails learning its meaning, with the word form presumably just picked up along the way. These results indicate that learning word form to a recognition level may be more difficult than learning meaning to the same level.
Moreover, another study conducted by Webb (2008) gave the same result. The result revealed that context – whether it contains enough contextual clues to guess the target word – plays a significant role in understanding and recalling a word meaning. However, it was found that the context does not significant affect recognizing and recalling a word form. It is interesting to note here that although many teachers might assume that it is more difficult to learn a word’s meaning than form, in this study, fewer word form were recognized than meanings.
On the other hand, Waring & Takaki (2003) found just the opposite. They investigated the vocabulary learning through reading a novel using three types of tests. The results showed that the participants recognized the word form more than the word meaning immediately after the reading.
Some studies have failed to find evidence of learning new vocabulary through reading a text (e.g. Tudor & Hafiz 1989). Also, as Hulstijn (1992) points out, “the retention of word meanings in a true incidental learning task is very low” (p. 122).
4.3.3. Research Question 3
The third research question was whether reading comprehension has any statistically significant effect on productive knowledge of L2 vocabulary by EFL learners or not.
Descriptive statistics (Table 4.1 and 4.4) for the production test revealed that learners obtained the mean score of 14.20 in the post-test and the mean score of 13.97 in the delayed post-tests.
In other words, according to production test, learners on average answered 71.00 and 69.85 percent of vocabulary items in the post and delayed post-test.
Therefore, it can be concluded that reading comprehension was effective for promoting learners’ vocabulary production knowledge. Furthermore, the third hypothesis was rejected.
Concerning this research question, Keating (2008) found that completing a sentence writing exercise after readin
g led to better retention of meaning and form than completing a blank filling exercise after reading. However, the sentence writing condition scored slightly lower on the delayed form retention post-test than the blank filling condition. In contrast to the findings in Laufer’s and Keating’s studies, Folse (2006) found no significantly different results between the single blank filling and sentence-making conditions.
Interestingly, Laufer (2003) compared the effects of reading alone to productive word-focused tasks such as writing original sentences using target words, and completing sentences using target words on overall vocabulary gains. The results indicated that there was a greater increase in vocabulary size through word-focused tasks than through reading alone, and that the vocabulary items learned through productive word-focused tasks were retained longer than learning from reading, even with using the dictionary.
Finally, the finding in this study is fully in congruence with what Nation (2001), Laufer (1998), Laufer and Pribakht (1998), Stoddard (1929), and Waring (1997) have found and indicated in their studies. Their findings show that receptive learning and use of words is easier than productive learning and use, active vocabulary development is slower and less predictable than passive one, receptive tests are easier than productive tests, and receptive vocabulary develops faster than productive vocabulary.
4.3.4. Research Question 4
Regarding research question four which was posed to see which dimension of vocabulary knowledge benefits most from reading comprehension, one-way repeated measure ANOVA indicated a statistically significant difference among the three tests,
F (2, 38) =34.20, P 0.001.
With regard to the delayed post-test one-way repeated measure ANOVA indicated a statistically significant difference among the three tests, F (2, 38) =31.06, P 0.001.
One-way repeated measure ANOVA along with post hoc comparisons revealed that reading comprehension promoted the acquisition of meaning recognition knowledge more than the two dimensions of vocabulary knowledge for the post-test. With regard to delayed post-test, post hoc comparisons revealed that learners form recognition knowledge was statistically higher than the learners meaning recognition and production knowledge. However, no statistically significant difference was found between learners’ performance in form and meaning recognition tests. Thus, these results express that the forth hypothesis was rejected.
The difference in learners’ performance in immediate post-test and delayed post-test can be explained with regard to two issues. The first issue is related to different dimensions of vocabulary knowledge that influence each other. It is possible that the development of meaning recognition as shown by the immediate post-test facilitated the subsequent acquisition of form recognition as shown in the delayed post-test. Second, it can be stated that vocabulary learning is dynamic, complicated and emergent process and therefore some dimensions of vocabulary knowledge might appear after an extended period of time.
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION, IMPLICATIONS, AND SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
This chapter gives a summary of the study followed by a conclusion, implications of the study, and suggestions for further research.
This study was an attempt to investigate the effect of reading comprehension on three dimensions of vocabulary knowledge on Iranian EFL learners. Forty Iranian EFL male learners participated in the study. They were selected from among five classes in an English institute in Shiraz. The participants were intermediate learners.
After selecting the participants, a reading comprehension test was assigned to check the homogeneity of the participants. One week later, a pre-test was administered to verify the participants’ lack of familiarity with the target words. Then, in two sessions they read two texts containing 20 new target words with their Persian translations.
After that the participants took part in three tests. The tests were a multiple-choice form recognition test, a multiple-choice meaning recognition test and a production test. The