Session 1B
Title: Promoting vocabulary acquisition: levels of involvement

Vocabulary acquisition is commonly seen in a supporting role to grammar with regards to second language learning. The objective of this presentation is firstly to outline the importance of focused reading based vocabulary exercises as a core component in courses and secondly to present activities supporting engagement in vocabulary acquisition within the broader context of language learning in university language institutes.

I will present a comparative study of different types of reading comprehension vocabulary tasks. Immediate and delayed retention of ten words from a short story were investigated in learning conditions of varying Involvement Loads (Laufer & Hulstijn, 2001) with 118 students in pre-university ESL classes in Quebec, Canada. These tasks were: low, glossary provided; moderate, multiple choice glossary; high, dictionary based sentence production; and control, reading only.

The study provides some evidence in support of the Involvement Load Hypothesis, which claims that tasks inducing higher levels of need, search, and evaluation of meanings of unfamiliar words are more effective for vocabulary acquisition. Based on these findings, I will share tools and activities for improving the process of vocabulary acquisition.

Vanessa Beal is a teacher and teacher trainer at UNSWIL. She worked as a teacher, teacher trainer and course coordinator in Montreal before recently relocating to Sydney. She has a B.Ed TESL from McGill and M.A. in Applied Linguistics from Concordia with research focusing on vocabulary acquisition. Her research interests include vocabulary, motivation and academic reading and writing.