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研究生(外文):Ching-wei Lin
論文名稱(外文):Using Context Clues to Infer Word Meanings: A Case Study of EFL University Students in Central Taiwan
指導教授(外文):Jyu-fang Yu
外文關鍵詞:vocabulary sizereading comprehensionvocabulary learning strategiesinferring from contextcontext clues
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本研究採用Ames(1969)對英語語境線索的分類來探索台灣學生對不同語境線索的敏感度;對象為台灣中部地區某私立大學外國語言學系的101位大一新生。根據自行設計的英語語境線索考卷考試結果,研究者企圖建構出一個語境線索使用頻率表及難度表。為避免研究對象因字彙量不足影響語境線索推敲字義的表現,致使本研究做出錯誤的結論,這份語境線索考卷中所有的考題用字都仔細地控制在英文最常用的1,000個字彙表(GSL)內;同時,1000(Huang, 1999)及2000高頻字彙(Schmitt, Schmitt, & Clapham, 2001)測驗卷也被用來當過濾未通過基本門檻的研究對象。
Inadequate vocabulary size of EFL learners, which directly influences reading comprehension and academic success, is an unavoidable problem for language instructors. Vocabulary and reading researchers thus suggest that EFL students make it a priority to learn the 2,000 high frequency word families and the 570 word families in the Academic Word List that together cover approximately 90% of common words used in typical English passages. Further, EFL learners need to use various strategies that will help them construct the meanings of unfamiliar words encountered in reading.
The most compelling strategy researchers in both vocabulary and reading fields have promoted is using context clues to infer the meanings of unknown words during the reading process. Language instructors need to be aware of how sensitive their students are to context clues, since the ability to use this strategy, along with vocabulary knowledge and reading skills, is a predictor of academic success. Therefore, information about how well students can use context clues to gain knowledge of unknown words in text and to increase English reading comprehension is essential to language instructors.
Adopting the framework of context clues developed by Ames (1966), the current study explores Chinese-speaking EFL learners’ sensitivity to different context clues. One hundred and one college freshmen from Tunghai University in central Taiwan participated in the study. A frequency and a difficulty rank order of context clues were constructed, based on the results from a vocabulary controlled context clues test (CCT). All the lexical items used in the assessment instrument were carefully controlled within the limit of the 1,000 most frequently used word families from the revised General Service List (1998), to prevent the vocabulary insufficiency of the subjects from impeding their performance and thus yielding erroneous conclusions. Huang’s (1999) 1,000 word level and Schmitt, Schmitt, and Clapham’s (2001) 2,000 word level of the Vocabulary Levels Test (VLT) served as the criteria to exclude participants lacking the requisite vocabulary knowledge from interpreting the CCT results.
Most of the participants (88.1%) reached the vocabulary threshold in this study, and the mean of the context clues test was 73.5 (the maximum score is 78), indicating that college participants from Chinese-speaking backgrounds in Taiwan overall have good knowledge of the use of context clues when encountering unknown words in text. The difficulty rank order of context clues test from the descriptive statistics provides useful guidelines for language instructors to inspect and modify their vocabulary strategy instruction. Moreover, the findings suggest that materials in which at least 95% of the words are known to the readers better enable them to practice the strategy of inferring from context. Suggestions for the language instructors, textbook writers, and language learners are also discussed. Finally, further research based on different data collection approaches on diverse subjects is proposed.
ABSTRACT (Chinese) i
ABSTRACT (English) iii
1.1 Background of the Study 2
1.2 Statements of the Problem: the Research Gap 3
1.3 Purposes of the Study and the Research Questions 4
1.4 Significance of the Study 6
1.5 Definitions of Terms 7
2.1 The Importance of Reading in Second Language Learning 8
2.2 Relationship between Vocabulary and Reading 12
2.2.1 The Density of Unknown Words and Reading Comprehension 15
2.3 Dimensions in Vocabulary Learning and Reading Comprehension 17
2.3.1 Vocabulary Size 20 High frequency word families and word lists. 20 Vocabulary Levels Test. 25
2.3.2 Vocabulary Depth 26
2.3.3 Vocabulary Strategies 28
2.4. Inferring from Context and Previous Studies on Context Clues 29
2.4.1 Studies on Context Clues 31
2.4.2 The Use of Context Clues among Chinese Speakers 39
3.1 Participants 43
3.2 Instruments 44
3.2.1 The Context Clues Test (CCT) 44 Known words and unknown words ratio. 45 Categories of the context clues. 46 Web Vocabulary Profilers. 47 The process of making the CCT. 50
3.2.2 Vocabulary Levels Test (VLT) 54
3.3 Pilot Study: Reliability, Item Analysis, and Validity 55
3.3.1 Scoring Rubrics 56
3.3.2 Statistical Procedures 57
3.3.3 Preliminary Results from the Pilot Study 58 The reliability of the self-made CCT. 64 Item analysis of the self-made CCT. 65 Examination of the validity and items of the CCT. 68
3.4 Data Collection Procedure 70
3.5 Data Analysis 71
4.1 Results of the Study 72
4.1.1 Results of the Two Levels of the VLT 73
4.1.2 Results of the CCT 76 Overall scores of the CCT. 76 Item analysis and reliability of the CCT. 78 Results of the CCT at clue type level. 79 Descriptive results of the CCT at item level. 82
4.2 Discussion on Findings 84
4.2.1 Discussion of the VLT Results 84
4.2.2 Discussion of the Overall Performance on the CCT 85
4.2.3 Discussion of Item Analysis and Reliability of the CCT 88
4.2.4 Discussion on the CCT at Clue Type and Item Level 90 C1: Clues provided through words connected or in series. 90 C2: Clues utilizing modifying phrases or clauses. 91 C3: Clues derived from language experience and familiar expression. 92 C4: Clues given from cause and effect relationship. 94 C5: Association clues. 95 C6: Referral clues. 96 C7: Synonym clues. 97 C8: Clues utilizing definition or description. 98 C9: Preposition clues. 99 C10: Clues drawn from question and answer pattern. 100 C11: Comparison or contrast clues. 101 C12: Clues derived from the main idea and supporting details 102 C13: Clues drawn from non-restrictive clauses 103
5.1 Implications for English Learners, Instructors, and Textbook Writers 108
5.2 Limitations of the Study and Suggestions for Future Research 109
APPENDIX A The 1,000 Word Level VLT by Huang (1999) 112
APPENDIX B The 2,000 Word Level VLT by Schmitt et al. (2001) 113
APPENDIX C Context Clues Test: Version A 114
APPENDIX D Context Clues Test: Version B 118
APPENDIX E Item-total Statistics of Reliability Analysis of the CCT of the Pilot Study 122
APPENDIX F Item-total Statistics of Reliability Analysis of the CCT of the Thesis Study 125
APPENDIX G Descriptive Statistics of the 13 Clues of the Thesis Study 128
APPENDIX H Frequencies of Choices of the 13 Clues of the Thesis Study 133
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