Date of Award

1-1-1996

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Faculty

Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Mike Breen

Abstract

This study set out to take a close look at English language lessons and the Individual language learners ability to recall new words arising In those lessons. Learners were asked to report the new vocabulary items that they could recall immediately after a lesson. Many words were recalled and in some Instances the same word was recalled by more than one learner whereas in others, learners recalled words not recalled by anyone else. Just under half of the words recalled, fitted the former category and just over half fitted the latter category. The amount of vocabulary recalled by individuals varied enormously although the average recalled was 6 items per learner. The majority of these words were two syllable nouns with neutral, abstract connotations. Some part words were recalled also. The rate of retention for these words was high over a six week period and some words which had originally been recalled only weakly (In other words without their meanings) came to be recalled Strongly (or with their meaning as well) over time, trusting the learner as a reliable and valuable source of data in terms of reporting the conscious processes undergone during a lesson, the researcher documented each individual's introspections of the processes involved in the noticing, recollection and retention of Items of vocabulary from the lessons. The decision to investigate only those words recalled by more than a quarter of the learners was made fairly early in the study, as the researcher was keen to see why certain words were recalled by learners much more than others. The learners gave reasons which could be grouped together under the headings of Interaction with the Data, Classroom Interaction, Personal Agenda/Priorities and Previous Learning/ Beyond the Classroom. Reasons given most often related to the category of Interaction with the Data. The second largest group of reasons given for recall of new words from the lessons related to Classroom Interaction. II seemed that reamers attributed noticing and recollection of new words to the fact that they had worked on the words in some way or been affected by qualities of the words themselves. In other words, they maintained that recall was due to the fact that they had interacted with the data presented In the lesson rather than interacted with the teacher or other students. Reasons relating to Personal Agendas/ Priorities and Previous Learning! Beyond the Classroom were present in the study but did not form a significant part of all reasons given. The researcher also decided to check if what learners had said was true in the case of events occurring in the classroom interaction and, at the same time, see If any trends could be ascertained In terms of links between features of the discourse and recall of new words. It was found that events recalled by learners in the classroom Interaction were borne out in almost all cases. What was more, nearly all words recalled by more than a quarter of learners had been 'mentioned' during the lesson, Words which had been 'repeated', 'focused upon', ‘introduced then reintroduced' during the lesson and were at the centre of a lot of 'turn-taking' were more likely to be recalled. This was only true up to a certain point, however. Too much of any of these things seemed to produce a negative relationship with recall or the relationship already established with a smaller amount of these variables present, remained unchanged. There appeared to be links between more student 'repetition' of words, and greater recall of that word, however, it was not necessary for learners to participate in the classroom interaction in order to recall large numbers of new words. Overall the study found that words which were made explicit in some was for learners and given attention during the lesson they were likely to be recalled by more learners.

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