University of Leicester
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The effect of the integrated keyword method on vocabulary retention and motivation

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:43 authored by Joern Hauptmann
This thesis investigated whether results in Keyword Method research, past and present, can be transferred to genuine classroom situations and whether the Keyword Method also effects the motivation of the learners. Since this thesis is concerned with the issue of vocabulary learning and teaching in the TESOL classroom, past and current research on this subject was examined together with the learning strategies that learners have at their disposal to achieve their learning target. Because the Keyword Method is a memory learning strategy that is supposed to utilise the workings of the brain, these workings were examined and an attempt was made to explain the beneficial effects of this method by linking theories of memory as advocated in the fields of psychology, philosophy and the neurosciences. The results of this cross-disciplinary literature research allow the conclusion that the apparent effectiveness of the Keyword Method is based on sound scientific principles. I then discussed the characteristics and properties of effective mnemonics, including the limitations and unrealistic use which have in the past contributed to their rejection. The concept of the mnemonic Keyword Method was then explored to establish its vital elements and the characteristics which are needed to make it effective in the classroom. I found that some of these are of lesser importance to the language classroom. Research into the effectiveness of the method on vocabulary retention has been carried out in the past in the laboratory and quasi-classroom situations with encouraging results. These investigates were carried out within the interpretive research paradigm. I conducted five experiments to obtain empirical evidence to try to answer the former question and a questionnaire and three interviews to address the latter. I found that the Keyword Method enhances vocabulary retention to a great extent compared with comparison groups, and that it has a beneficial effect on the motivation of the learners. This led to the suggestion of further research into the Keyword Method and especially current teaching methodology, since available research so far tends to be inconclusive.


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University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • EdD



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