Learning words through watching television: the effect of frequency of occurrence, word relevance and learners’ vocabulary size
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AbstractRecently, studies have demonstrated that it is possible to learn new words when watching television and videos, although the learning gains tend to be low (Montero-Perez et al., 2014; Rodgers, 2013; van Zeeland & Schmitt, 2013; Vidal, 2011). Research has also found that frequency of occurrence (Rodgers, 2013; Van Zeeland & Schmitt, 2013) and vocabulary size (Montero-Perez et al., 2014) affect the chances of a word being learned. One factor which is yet to be examined is a word’s relevance to understanding the video. The aim of this study is to investigate English-as-a-Foreign-Language learners’ acquisition of three aspects of vocabulary knowledge through viewing a television program: form recognition, meaning recall, and meaning recognition. Specifically, this study explores (a) the effect of a word’s frequency of occurrence, (b) the effect of a word’s relevance, (3) the mediating role of learners’ vocabulary size on incidental vocabulary acquisition. An ecologically-valid study was set up in which participants watched a video that was directly related to their course aims. Whereas previous studies have generally used short videos, this study used a one-hour television program. A pretest-posttest-delayed posttest design was adopted. The participants (= Dutch-speaking EFL university students) were assigned to an experimental group that watched the video, or to a control group that received no input and only took the vocabulary tests. The video contained 64 target words differing in terms of frequency of occurrence (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), in perceived relevance, and in part of speech (noun, verb, adjective). Vocabulary gains were measured in a form recognition, a meaning recall and a meaning recognition test. We hypothesize that vocabulary may be learned incidentally through watching a single television program and that the variables under investigations will affect learning positively. The pedagogical implications of the findings will be discussed in detail.
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