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Computer-Assisted Vocabulary Acquisition in the ESL Classroom

Pelletreau, Timothy R. (2006) Computer-Assisted Vocabulary Acquisition in the ESL Classroom. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The advantages of both explicit and incidental vocabulary learning mechanisms have been a subject of ongoing scholarship within the field of Second Language Vocabulary Acquisition (SLVA). Most studies addressing these two types of learning mechanisms have explored them within the context of second language (L2) reading activities. Traditionally, research on explicit and incidental vocabulary has been conducted without computer technology, at least for studies involving English. This thesis examines the opportunities that intermediate ESL learners had to acquire vocabulary while reading pre-selected texts every week using a computer program known as REAP as part of their coursework in the English Language Institute. Students received an individualized series of documents containing "target" words in a study that was developed as an extension of an earlier study of enhanced learning conditions. The target words consisted of a list of academic words that students did not know. The list was determined by a vocabulary pre-test. Students were told explicitly to try to learn the meanings of their target vocabulary words by clicking on them in order to view online dictionary definitions. Students engaged in explicit learning of target words, though in doing so, they were given the opportunity to use the same online dictionary to look up other "non-target" words. The learning of non-target words proceeded via incidental learning mechanisms. Data was collected through observations of students, teacher feedback and student-student interviews. The quantitative and qualitative analyses revealed a variety of student learning outcomes and behaviors. There was no relation between non-target and target vocabulary learning outcomes. Students exhibited one of two distinct vocabulary-learning behaviors. One group of students took notes while reading and focusing more on target words. The other mainly asked their teacher vocabulary questions while reading. The results of the study are explored in terms of their pedagogical implications.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Pelletreau, Timothy R.trp17@pitt.eduTRP17
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairJuffs, Alanjuffs@pitt.eduJUFFS
Committee MemberSiskin, Claire Bradincbsiskin@pitt.eduCBSISKIN
Committee MemberMcCormick, Dawn Emccormic@pitt.eduMCCORMIC
Date: 28 September 2006
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 27 July 2006
Approval Date: 28 September 2006
Submission Date: 8 August 2006
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Linguistics
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: online dictionary use; student-student interviews
Other ID:, etd-08082006-035505
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:58
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:48


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