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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Vocabulary learning : a study of student and activity elicited learning processes & strategies used in an adult ESL classroom Swingle, Mari K.


This research explored a game and a simulation as tools and/or methods for facilitating short term lexical acquisition in an adult ESL classroom. The processes facilitating vocabulary learning used by student participants in a game were compared to those used by the same student participants in a simulation activity. Of particular interest were the specific influences of the two activities in eliciting the usage/application of successful learning processes and strategies. Data generated from a pre/posttest, student questionnaires and transcripts generated from the videotaping of the activities were analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively. The statistical portion of this research isolated larger movements of group learning and then moved into the specifics of smaller participant groups and individual learning. The qualitative portion of this research examined the participant discourse generated during the two activities as well as student ratings and comments on the activities and their learning. Findings were that the structures of the two activities themselves determined the strategies used by the individual participants. Explicit exploration of vocabulary items connected to the participants' perceived need for vocabulary use and exploration for task completion were most conducive to vocabulary learning. Secondary findings were that the game functioned as a mitigator of participant verbal dominance. Verbal dominance was further found to influence participant enjoyment of the two activities. The results of this research indicated that activity structure should be taken into account when considering vocabulary learning activities in an adult ESL classroom. Results would support a call for the explicit study of word items in adult ESL activities including the explicit exploration of lexis rather than relying exclusively on incidental learning as a means of acquiring vocabulary.

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