University of Leicester
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Hong Kong Chinese secondary school English language learners’ vocabulary uptake using simplified readers with and without associated reading tasks

posted on 2011-11-16, 11:37 authored by Grant Andrew Dykes
While there is a suggestion that reading extensively may be effective in improving vocabulary knowledge, a number of Hong Kong (H.K.) studies suggest that it has not been particularly successful in the H.K. context, particularly in aiding weaker language learners. The failure of extensive reading (ER) in H.K. could be attributable to a clash between the philosophical underpinnings of ER and the pedagogy and culture of the H.K. education system leading to faulty implementation of, and engagement with ER. Alternatively, the failure of ER in H.K. could be due to an inability of weaker L2 Chinese students to acquire language implicitly from uninstructed reading (UR). The purpose of this study was to determine, by means of a quasi-experiment, whether L2 Chinese students could acquire language (vocabulary) implicitly from uninstructed reading and whether UR was suitable for language acquisition for both weaker and stronger students. The study also sought to determine whether UR was more or less effective than an alternative reading method, reading with tasks (R+), which employs implicit and explicit means of acquisition and may be more appropriate in the H.K. education system than UR in the form of ER. The results revealed that both weaker and stronger readers could acquire vocabulary from UR, with little difference in acquisition between them. Both groups acquired significantly more vocabulary from R+ than from UR, although there was no advantage for either group. Although R+ required more time, vocabulary acquisition was more guaranteed than from UR. The key element of vocabulary acquisition from reading is text at an appropriate level and the study suggests that this may be closer to 99% comprehensibility than the 95% - 98% suggested by some researchers. R+ can be employed with a whole class, allowing both weaker and stronger readers to acquire a significant number of target words from a text. The ability of R+ to make a text easier, aid enjoyment, ensure interaction with text, fit the H.K. education system and scaffold ER is discussed and further research is suggested.



Armstrong, Kevin

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University of Leicester

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  • Doctoral

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  • EdD



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