The acquisition of novel word meanings from recreational reading under massed and distributed learning conditions

Doctorate other than PhD


Wray, Colin Christopher MacCallum. 2014. The acquisition of novel word meanings from recreational reading under massed and distributed learning conditions. Doctorate other than PhD Doctor of Education. University of Southern Queensland.
Title

The acquisition of novel word meanings from recreational reading under massed and distributed learning conditions

TypeDoctorate other than PhD
Authors
AuthorWray, Colin Christopher MacCallum
SupervisorO'Neill, Shirly
Green, Nicole
Danaher, Patrick
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Education
Number of Pages341
Year2014
Abstract

Children learning English as a second language acquire much vocabulary from recreational reading (RR) as do their English native-speaking peers. Such learning typically involves a cycle of repeated encounters with the same novel word in different contextual settings, each encounter serving to consolidate and build upon prior knowledge (Nation, 1990). This dissertation examines one factor that potentially impacts upon the pedagogical value of RR as a vocabulary-building practice: the time intervals between the reader‘s encounters with the same novel word while engaged in in-class RR sessions. The study employs five sets of texts, each designed to expose the reader to a uniquely more, or less, distributed encounter with a small sample of non-words particular to the set in which they occur.

Employing a researcher-designed data-elicitation instrument (the Vocabulary State Assignment Task (VSAT)), the study demonstrates that among a population of Thai primary school English as a second language (ESL) children, distributed encounters with novel non-words potentially lead to more impressive meaning gains of those same non-words than do massed encounters (i.e., many encounters with the same word over a relatively short time period). Drawing upon three alternative (reasonable) notions of word knowing, the investigation demonstrates that each is associated with different learning outcomes in terms of (a) whether total word gains from reading any one set of texts differed significantly from those associated with reading another and (b) how substantial were gains attributable to more or less distributed word presentations.

A breakdown of target word gains by syntactic class (nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs) revealed an association between how distributed were occurrences of the same novel word and statistically significant differences in the proportions of learned words of the class of interest. The study concludes that spaced learning impacts more upon gains of nouns and verbs than it does adjectives and adverbs. Whether differences in noun and/or verb totals proved significantly different depended upon the definition of known word one acknowledges.

KeywordsEnglish as a second language; ESL; children; recreational reading; novel word meanings
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390108. LOTE, ESL and TESOL curriculum and pedagogy
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Linguistics, Adult and Specialist Education
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