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the effects of lextutor in dealing with vocabulary in intensive reading at dong thap community college

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
HO CHI MINH CITY OPEN UNIVERSITY
--------------------------

The effects of Lextutor in dealing with
vocabulary in intensive reading at Dong Thap
Community College

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts (TESOL)

Submitted by: TRAM THI NGOC HUONG

Supervisor
Assoc. Prof. Dr. NGUYEN THANH TUNG

Ho Chi Minh City, August, 2017

i



STATEMENT OF AUTHORSHIP
I certify that this thesis entitled “The effects of Lextutor in dealing with
vocabulary in intensive reading at Dong Thap Community College” is my own work.
Except where reference is made in the text of the thesis, this thesis does not
contain material published elsewhere or extracted in whole or in part from a thesis by
which I have qualified for or been awarded another degree or diploma.
No other person’s work has been used without due acknowledgement in the text
of the thesis.
This thesis has not been submitted for any degree in any other tertiary institution.

Ho Chi Minh City, 2017

TRAM THI NGOC HUONG

i


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
First and foremost, I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to my supervisor,
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Thanh Tung, for his devotion, patient instruction,
encouragement and enthusiastic guidance throughout the current research. I am deeply
indebted to him for his invaluable advice and comments from which I have learned
many important things while doing the research. I also wish to express my appreciation
for his applied linguistics lectures which are very useful and inspiring me to do the
research.
Next, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all the instructional staffs
for the MTESOL course of the Graduate School at the Open University in Ho Chi Minh
City. They gave me profound knowledge and valuable advice from which I could
develop theoretical and practical knowledge in the sphere of language teaching and
learning.
Then, I would like to give my special thanks to teachers and students at Dong
Thap Community College, all of whom were very willing and enthusiastic to participate
in the research.
I am also very thankful to my close friends, who enthusiastically encouraged me
to finish the research.
Last but not least, I would like to express my deep gratefulness to my family,
who were always by my side and gave me love and mental support to help me overcome
difficulties to accomplish the research work.

ii




ABSTRACT
The most difficulty the students at Dong Thap Community College (DTCC)
encounter in reading is their struggle to deal with English vocabulary. The study thus
investigates the feasibility and educational value of applying the Compleat Lexical
Tutor (Cobb, 1997) into dealing with vocabulary in intensive reading at DTCC. Seventy
students from two classes at DTCC were selected as the control and experimental
groups to participate in the research. The data of the study were collected through the
two instruments of a questionnaire and tests. Test and questionnaire data were analyzed
using an independent samples t-test and means respectively.
Considering the research questions in the light of findings, the research indicates
the positive benefits of the activities in dealing with vocabulary in intensive reading
with the help of Lextutor. The findings of the research indicate that the students made
better improvement in vocabulary and reading comprehension. They also expressed a
positive attitude towards the activities with Lextutor.

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CONTENTS
STATEMENT OF AUTHORSHIP .......................................................................................... i
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ..................................................................................................... ii
ABSTRACT ............................................................................................................................ iii
CONTENTS ............................................................................................................................ iv
LIST OF TABLES ................................................................................................................. vii
LIST OF FIGURES ................................................................................................................ ix
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS .................................................................................................. x
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................ 1
1.1.

Background to the study ............................................................................................. 1

1.2.

Statement of the problem ........................................................................................... 3

1.3.

Aim of the study, research questions and hypotheses ................................................ 4

1.4.

Research significance ................................................................................................. 5

CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW ................................................................................. 6
2.1.

Introduction of Lextutor ............................................................................................. 6

2.2.

Introduction of the Web VP ....................................................................................... 8

2.3.

The benefits of Lextutor ............................................................................................. 9

2.4.

Procedure for applying the Web VP......................................................................... 12

2.5.

Studies on the related topic ...................................................................................... 20

2.6.

Chapter summary ..................................................................................................... 22

CHAPTER 3 : METHODOLOGY ........................................................................................ 23
3.1.

Research Site ............................................................................................................ 23

3.2.

Research participants ................................................................................................ 23

3.2.1.

Population ................................................................................................................. 23

3.2.2.

Sample ...................................................................................................................... 23

3.3.

Research design and method of investigation .......................................................... 25

3.3.1.

Research design ........................................................................................................ 25

3.3.2.

Method of investigation............................................................................................ 26

3.4.

Analytical Framework .............................................................................................. 33

3.4.1.

Tests.......................................................................................................................... 34

3.4.2.

Questionnaire............................................................................................................ 35

3.5.

Reliability and validity of the instruments ............................................................... 36

3.5.2.

Questionnaire............................................................................................................ 37

3.6.

Chapter Summary ..................................................................................................... 37
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CHAPTER 4: DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION ............................................ 38
4.1.

Tests.......................................................................................................................... 38

4.1.1

Resemblance in the pre-test ...................................................................................... 38

4.1.2.

Disparity in the post-test........................................................................................... 42

4.1.3.

The correlation between vocabulary and reading comprehension ........................... 49

4.1.4.

Summary of the results from the pre-tests and post-tests ......................................... 50

4.2.

Questionnaire............................................................................................................ 51

4.3.

Chapter summary ..................................................................................................... 59

CHAPTER 5: DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS ....................................................................... 60
5.1.

Finding on the students’ improvement ..................................................................... 60

5.1.1.

Vocabulary ............................................................................................................... 60

5.1.2.

Reading comprehension ........................................................................................... 61

5.1.3.

The correlation between vocabulary and reading comprehension ........................... 62

5.2.

Finding on students’ attitude towards the activities ................................................. 63

5.3.

Chapter summary ..................................................................................................... 65

CHAPTER 6: CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS ........................................... 66
6.1.

Main conclusions ...................................................................................................... 66

6.2.

Evaluation of the methodology ................................................................................ 67

6.2.1.

Strengths ................................................................................................................... 67

6.2.2.

Weaknesses .............................................................................................................. 68

6.3.

Recommendations for teachers and students ............................................................ 68

6.3.1.

For teachers .............................................................................................................. 68

6.3.2.

For students .............................................................................................................. 69

6.4.

Suggestions for further research ............................................................................... 70

6.5.

Chapter summary ..................................................................................................... 70

REFERENCES ...................................................................................................................... 71
APPENDIX 1: The vocabulary size test ................................................................................ 76
APPENDIX 2: The pre-reading test ...................................................................................... 77
APPENDIX 3: The post-reading test ..................................................................................... 87
APPENDIX 4: The post-vocabulary test ............................................................................... 95
APPENDIX 5: The questionnaire .......................................................................................... 99
APPENDIX 6: Text analysis by the Web VP in Lextutor ................................................... 106
APPENDIX 7: Activities in dealing with vocabulary in intensive reading ......................... 118
APPENDIX 8: Lesson plan for the control group ............................................................... 120
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APPENDIX 9: Lesson plan for the experimental group ...................................................... 122
APPENDIX 10: Reading comprehension pre-test and post-test scores............................... 125
APPENDIX 11: Vocabulary post-test scores ...................................................................... 126
APPENDIX 12: Item total statistics of the reading comprehension pre-test ....................... 127
APPENDIX 13: Item total statistics of the reading comprehension post-test ..................... 128
APPENDIX 14: Item total statistics of the vocabulary post-test ......................................... 129

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LIST OF TABLES
Table 2.1: What is involved in knowing a word ............................................. 15
Table 2.2: Reasons for choosing a particular activity ..................................... 19
Table 2.3: Explanation of reasons ................................................................... 20
Table 3.1: Personal information of the students .............................................. 24
Table 3.2: List of reading texts ........................................................................ 26
Table 3.3: Activities in dealing with vocabulary in intensive reading ............ 28
Table 3.4: Test score interpretation ................................................................. 31
Table 3.5: The questionnaire clusters .............................................................. 33
Table 4.1: Mean scores in the pre-test ............................................................. 39
Table 4.2: Independent-samples t-test in the pre-test ...................................... 40
Table 4.3: Reliability statistics of the pre-test ................................................. 40
Table 4.4: Test of normality in the pre-test scores .......................................... 41
Table 4.5: Mean scores in the vocabulary achievement test ........................... 43
Table 4.6: Independent-sample t-test in the vocabulary achievement test ...... 43
Table 4.7: Reliability statistics of the vocabulary achievement test ............... 44
Table 4.8: Test of normality in the vocabulary achievement test scores ........ 45
Table 4.9: Mean scores in the reading comprehension test............................. 47
Table 4.10: Independent-sample t-test in the post-reading comprehension
test...................... .......................................................................... 47
Table 4.11: Reliability statistics of the post-reading comprehension test ....... 48
Table 4.12: Test of normality in the post-reading comprehension test
scores ................. .......................................................................... 49
Table 4.13: The correlation between vocabulary and reading comprehension in
the control group .......................................................................... 50
Table 4.14: The correlation between vocabulary and reading comprehension in
the experimental group................................................................. 50
Table 4.15: Frequency, percentages and mean of students’ responses to the
questionnaire ................................................................................ 52
Table 4.16: Reliability statistics of the questionnaire ..................................... 53

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Table 4.17: Students’ attitude towards the usefulness of activities in dealing
with vocabulary . .......................................................................... 56

viii


LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 2.1: The entry page of Lextutor .........................................................................6
Figure 2.2: The input of the text ................................................................................... 12
Figure 2.3: Text analysis 1 ........................................................................................... 13
Figure 2.4: Text analysis 2 ........................................................................................... 13
Figure 4.1: Pre-reading test score distribution ............................................................ 38
Figure 4.2: Comparison of vocabulary achievement test scores ..................................42
Figure 4.3: Post-reading comprehension test score distribution ..................................46
Figure 4.4: Students’ interests in activities in dealing with vocabulary ....................... 54
Figure 4.5: Students’ preference in activities in dealing with vocabulary ................... 54
Figure 4.6: Students’ pressure from activities in dealing with vocabulary .................. 55
Figure 4.7: Students’ perceived competence from the activities..................................57
Figure 4.8: Students’ attitude towards the relationship between vocabulary and
reading comprehension ............................................................................... 57

ix


LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
DTCC

Dong Thap Community College

Lextutor

The Compleat Lexical Tutor

EFL

English as a foreign language

ESL

English as a second language

L1

First language

L2

Second language

LTP

Lexical Frequency Profile

VP

Vocabulary Profile

VST

Vocabulary size test

x


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

This chapter introduces the background to the study, the statement of the
problem, the research aim, the research questions, the research significance and the
structure of the study.
1.1.

Background to the study
Reading is a “crucial building block” (Hedgcock & Ferris, 2009) and “one of the

few avenues” (Grabe, 2009) which help learners be successful in an academic setting.
In fact, of the four language skills – Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing – reading
comprehension plays the most significant role which helps learners to achieve a fluent
command of English as a foreign language (EFL). According to Carrel (1984), “for
many students, reading is by far the most important of the four macro skills, particularly
in English as a second or a foreign language” (p. 441). In specific, reading
comprehension can be considered to be the most useful means that provides EFL
learners with an appropriate input to improve their writing style and enhance their
vocabulary, grammatical structures and language expressions which bring them
opportunities to access all aspects of the target language.
In EFL situations, reading plays such a significant role that it becomes essential
for teachers of English to find an effective way to help their students learn English
better. Consequently, it becomes one of the most important language learning goals for
many EFL students and thus it is given particular attention in almost all the EFL
situations (Grabe, 1991, as cited in Kazemi, Hosseini, & Kohandani, 2013). For
university students in Vietnam, reading English texts is the groundwork that helps them
be proficient in the target language and facilitates their study at higher education and
their life-long learning (Do & Vo, 2015). Therefore, reading skill tends to be the priority
among all the four skills in an English curriculum in Vietnam (Luu, 2011).
Despite its importance, reading is found to be a complex process in an English
as a second language (ESL) as well as EFL context and thus students find it challenging
to develop their fluent reading abilities in the target language (Carrel & Grabe, 2002).
In fact, despite its priority in the English curriculum in Vietnam, students usually face
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difficulties in reading English (Luu, 2011). Vietnamese students believe that reading is
one of the most difficulties they face in the English curriculum (Tran, 2016). Moreover,
with his classroom observation and informal interviews with the teachers who teach
reading at upper secondary schools, Hoang (2015) found that Vietnamese students were
often afraid of dealing with a difficult reading task or reading text. Similarly, with her
informal interviews with the students at Dong Thap Community College (DTCC), the
specific context of the current research, the researcher recognizes that they often feel
scared of reading English because of its difficulties although reading is given special
attention.
One of the main reading comprehension problems Vietnamese students
encounter is the struggle to deal with English vocabulary. In fact, it is very difficult for
them to read fluently because they cannot recognize almost every word in a text
automatically as native English-speaking students. Luu (2011) indicated that one of the
main reasons for freshmen’s poor reading skill is their insufficient vocabulary.
Moreover, with the results of his survey related to the problems the students faced in
reading lessons, Ho (2013) indicated that the most serious problem preventing
Vietnamese students from comprehending what they read is their lack of vocabulary.
DTCC students have the same problem in dealing with reading texts. With the
researcher’s experience in teaching reading comprehension to 18-22 year old students
she believes that lack of vocabulary is a main reason for their poor reading performance.
Due to their limited vocabulary size, they cannot deal with vocabulary while reading
and thus they usually stop reading at once whenever they see an unknown word.
Therefore, only when they are provided with an adequate vocabulary size to recognize
the running words in the text quickly and correctly, will they read better (Carrel &
Grabe, 2002). In other words, vocabulary instruction should be emphasized in the
reading lessons.
Vocabulary learning is paid a careful attention in the Four Corners Preintermediate course book by Richards and Bohlke (2011) which is used in the English
curriculum at DTCC. In each unit of the book, there are two lessons focusing on useful
vocabulary for the topic of the unit. However, the vocabulary instruction is separated
from the reading lessons; therefore, it is not significantly helpful to students’ reading
2


comprehension. Moreover, the students cannot memorize the vocabulary well because
of the same activities including labelling and categorization which take turns to appear
continuously in each vocabulary lesson. As a result, the researcher had to apply such
techniques to pre-teach vocabulary to her students as using visual aids and tactile ways
in dealing with words’ forms, demonstrating or explaining the target words before
conducting the reading lesson. However, these practices are not a long-term solution to
help her students widen their vocabulary to improve their reading comprehension.
In order to promote their vocabulary learning, Nguyen (2014) highly appreciated
teachers’ orientation in text selection and the application of a variety of activities in
dealing with vocabulary in intensive reading. For the former consideration, the teachers
should decide how reading texts are adapted or sequenced by analyzing the texts in
terms of lexical frequency. This way enables them to find out which words in a text the
learners are not likely to know. It means that they could decide which words in the text
they could accept, which words need modifying or rejecting so as to be suitable for their
students’ vocabulary size. As a result, they could identify their target word lists and
begin to profile the vocabulary for comprehensibility for their learners by this kind of
text analysis.
The Compleat Lexical Tutor (Lextutor) (Cobb, 1997) is considered to be the
most appropriate to meet this requirement. Therefore, Dang (2011) recommended using
Lextutor as a very essential tool for teaching and learning vocabulary to improve
reading comprehension. For the second consideration, Nation’s (2004) activities in
dealing with vocabulary in intensive reading, kinds of deliberate vocabulary learning,
should be highly appreciated. Studies have suggested that direct vocabulary learning is
more effective than incidental vocabulary learning. One of the reasons for this is that
deliberate learning is more focused and goal-directed than incidental learning (Nation
& Meara, 2013).
1.2.

Statement of the problem
The situation of vocabulary and reading teaching at DTCC as mentioned above

causes some constraints which impede students from accomplishment of expected
vocabulary and reading ability. They find it difficult to read because they lack
vocabulary; however, vocabulary instruction is not emphasized in the reading lessons.
3


As a consequence, their vocabulary size is not significantly increased and thus their
reading comprehension is not improved after the course. From this negative situation,
it is essential to change the pedagogical approach towards teaching vocabulary and
reading to DTCC students so as to promote their reading comprehension. In this case,
the activities in dealing with vocabulary in intensive reading with the help of Lextutor
are considered to be the most appropriate ones to overcome the above-mentioned
problem, i.e. the struggle to deal with vocabulary in reading.
1.3.

Aim of the study, research questions and hypotheses
From the analysis of the above problem, the present research aims to investigate

the educational value of the activities in dealing with vocabulary in intensive reading
with the help of Lextutor on increasing the students’ vocabulary to improve their
reading comprehension and explore their attitude towards the application in the context
of DTCC. To achieve this aim, the study addresses two following research questions:
1) To what extent does the use of activities in dealing vocabulary in intensive
reading with the help of Lextutor help students:
1.1)

enhance their vocabulary

1.2)

improve their reading comprehension?

1.3)

From 1.1 and 1.2 above, is there any correlation between students’
vocabulary and reading ability?

2) What are students’ attitudes towards the use of activities in dealing vocabulary
in intensive reading with the help of Lextutor?
In respect of relevant theoretical knowledge and research questions, the study
was designed to test the following hypotheses:
1) There is a significant difference in scores of vocabulary and reading
comprehension test between the students exposed to the activities in dealing
vocabulary in intensive reading with the help of Lextutor and those who were
not exposed to these activities.
1.1)

The use of activities in dealing vocabulary in intensive reading with
Lextutor could help students enhance their vocabulary.

1.2)

The use of activities in dealing vocabulary in intensive reading with
Lextutor could help students improve their reading comprehension.
4


1.3)

Accordingly, there is a correlation between students’ vocabulary and
reading ability.

2) The students have positive attitudes towards the activities in dealing vocabulary
in intensive reading with the help of Lextutor after being exposed to them.
1.4.

Research significance
The findings gained from the study offer valuable information contributing to

the body of literature in terms of Lextutor in dealing with vocabulary in intensive
reading in an EFL context. The value of this research is that if what the researcher is
going to do is feasible, then a new teaching technique, dealing with vocabulary with the
help of Lextutor, can be adapted by the teachers of English at DTCC to achieve the goal
to help students overcome their struggle to deal with vocabulary in reading, and thus
their reading ability can be improved.
1.5.

Research structure
The study is organized in six chapters. Chapter 1 problematizes the topic of the

study by presenting background to the study, a statement of the problem, research aim
and questions, and significance of the study. Chapter 2 shapes the conceptual
framework of the study by reviewing the relevant themes of Lextutor in dealing with
vocabulary in intensive reading including its definition, its application, its benefits to
the achievement of vocabulary and reading comprehension and related studies. Chapter
3 draws a research plan for the whole process of implementing the activities in dealing
with vocabulary in intensive reading with the help of Lextutor involving research site,
selection of the sample, research design and method of investigation, analytical
framework, and the issues of validity and reliability. Chapter 4 analyzes and interprets
data collected from tests and a questionnaire. Chapter 5 discusses the findings of the
study which are analyzed and interpreted in Chapter 4. The discussion concentrates on
the students’ improvement in vocabulary and reading as well as their attitude towards
the Lextutor treatment. Chapter 6 draws main conclusions of the study by satisfactorily
answering the research questions posed in Chapter 1. It also presents an evaluation of
the strengths and weaknesses of the study, and gives recommendations for teachers and
students and suggestions for further research.

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CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW

Chapter 1 affirmed that Lextutor is essential in doing research into the
improvement of vocabulary and reading comprehension. To know more about the
proposed theory, it is absolutely necessary to shape a conceptual framework about it in
Chapter 2. As such, this chapter specifically reviews the theoretical background related
to Lextutor including its definition, its application, its benefits to the achievement of
vocabulary and reading comprehension and related studies.
2.1.

Introduction of Lextutor
Lextutor is a website, named The Compleat Lexical Tutor, with concordancer,

vocabulary profiler, exercise maker, interactive exercises, and much more. It is designed
and developed by Tom Cobb of the University of Quebec at Montreal in 1997. The
interface of this website can be seen in the following figure.

Figure 2.1: The entry page of The Compleat Lexical Tutor
According to Cobb (1999), when learners encounter words in a variety of
contexts they are able to retain and use them flexibly. Similarly, Folse (2004) has the
same view as Cobb (1999) when indicating that to help learners’ words move from
short-term to long-term memory, providing them with multiple exposures to new words
6


is very important. The Compleat Lexical Tutor website offers a vast range of resources
for both teaching and learning vocabulary. Below is the description of the site.
According to Cobb (2004), there are three sections in The Compleat Lexical
Tutor for Learners, Researchers and Teachers (Figure 2.1). Firstly, the Learners section
aims at providing self-access learning opportunities for learners. Using interactive tools
on the web site, they can test their vocabulary, explore their vocabulary levels, compare
active and passive vocabulary, use new words, read and listen to a novel, and test their
grammar with concordances.
Secondly, the Research section is divided into seven sub-sections. The first is
Text tools, with tools for processing a text such as frequency list-makers, HTML-tag
strippers (useful for rendering HTML files into text files for further analysis), corpus
builders (for those who wish to create their own corpora), and a sentence extractor,
which removes end punctuation from sentences in texts. Besides, Range enables the
researcher to locate words and phrases in different corpora. Especially, the Web
Vocabulary Profiler which is also called Vocab-Profile, and Concordance tools links to
English and French concordancing programs. Furthermore, Phrase Extractor enables
one to analyze a text for repeated phrases of 2-5 words; and the Reaction-Time
Experiment Builder is a tool used to test the speed of learners' word recognition. At the
same time, Vocab Stats is a collection of programs for researchers who wish to generate
different types of statistical information about patterns of vocabulary in texts; indeed, it
links to Richard Lowry's Concepts and Applications of Inferential Statistics at Vassar.
Finally, the Research Base contains links to a number of Cobb's research papers as well
as to other pieces of research and websites dealing with the topic of "list and frequencybased vocabulary learning." Among these, the Web Vocabulary Profiler and
Concordance tools can be used with little difficulty for a range of purposes.
Finally, the third section, Teachers, allows instructors to input material to create
customized vocabulary practice materials for their students. Among the offerings here
are a Text-to-Speech (TTS) builder, three types of cloze builders, a Hypertext Builder,
Multi-Concordance with Exercise Builder, Group Lex (a collaborative vocabulary
exercise builder), and Dictator, a new addition to this section.

7


Because the purpose of the current study is to investigate the effects of Lextutor
in dealing with vocabulary, the researcher will look at the Web Vocabulary Profile (VP)
tool which helps teachers break texts down by word frequencies in the language at large,
as opposed to in the text itself (Cobb, 2005).
2.2.

Introduction of the Web VP
Cobb (2004) recommends the Web VP as an effective online tool which can help

teachers and learners produce a lexical profile of any text and a simple way to modify
that profile in order that learners and text are matched by using the word frequency lists
effectively. He claims that most of the English VP on Lextutor is based on Laufer and
Nation’s Lexical Frequency Profiler. According to Laufer and Nation (1995), the
Lexical Frequency Profiler can be defined as the percentage of words which a learner
uses at different levels of vocabulary frequencies. Therefore, it is essential to know
about vocabulary levels.
Nation and Chung (2009) divide vocabulary into four levels of High-frequency
words, Academic words, technical words and Low-frequency words. High-frequency
words make up a group of around 2,000 word families. It is believed that the first 2,000
words of English cover between 80% and 90% of the running words in a text, depending
on the type of text. Coxhead’s (2000) provides a list of 570 word families that are very
common across a wide range of academic disciplines. It covers around 10% of the
running words in an academic text, around 4% of the running words in newspapers, and
less than 2% of the running words in novels. Technical words are very closely
associated with a specialist area. Chung and Nation (2004) found that technical words
occupy around 30% of the running words in an anatomy text, and around 20% of the
words in an applied linguistics text.
Based on the theory on vocabulary levels, Laufer and Nation (1995) indicate that
there are two Lexical Frequency Profiler (LFP) types of measures for less proficient
learners and advanced learners. With their experience, less proficient students are less
likely to use rare vocabulary than the advanced ones. Therefore, the main distinction
for less proficient learners should be between the first most frequent words, the second
1000, and any other vocabulary; on the other hand, the finer distinction should be made
at higher list of the basic vocabulary for more advanced learners.
8


As the result, Laufer and Nation (1995) suggest that the profile can look at the
total number of word types of the second 1,000 most frequent words, the academic
vocabulary and the less frequent words which are not in the first 1,000 most frequent
words and not in any of the above two lists. The three categories of second 1,000, the
academic vocabulary, and words not in any lists will constitute the 100 per cent of the
count. The entire calculation is done by a computer program which compares
vocabulary lists to see what words in the text are and are not in the lists and to see what
percentages of the items in the text are covered by the lists. The Web VP in Lextutor
can do that calculation. Indeed, the VP package consists of the program itself and three
accompanying word lists. The program compares the words in a text with the words in
the word lists. It lists the words from the text in types and families according to the list
they occur in. It also provides frequency and coverage data.
2.3.

The benefits of Lextutor
Grabe (2009, pp. 265-266) reviews lots of studies which prove a strong

relationship between reading and vocabulary learning. Thorndike’s study of reading
(1973, as cited in Grabe, 2009) across 15 countries reports the correlation between
reading and vocabulary. Moreover, Stanovich (1986, 2000, as cited in Grabe, 2009, pp.
265-266) finds out a reciprocal causal relationship between reading and vocabulary.
According to Grabe (2009, p. 266), that is a reciprocal causal relationship because
vocabulary growth can help learners improve their reading and the amount of reading
can also help to increase vocabulary. Carver (2000, 2003, as cited in Grabe, 2009, p.
266) believes that vocabulary and reading comprehension can produce perfect
relationship thanks to their very strong connections.
2.3.1. Lextutor and vocabulary
Lextutor is believed to be the most essential tool in the vocabulary researcher’s
toolbox with a number of really useful functions (Schmitt, 2013). Besides, Lextutor’
records reveal that many individual teachers and learners use Lextutor to design their
own instructional materials. Its records show that throughout the day and night users
from all over the world log on Lextutor to run texts through the Web VP and experience
other Lextutor’s features. This finding proves Lextutor to be a popular and convenient
tool for language teaching and learning. Indeed, according to Cobb (2004), learners can
9


widen their vocabulary in English systematically thanks to Lextutor’s diagnostic
vocabulary tests, and a corresponding set of vocabulary lists linked to concordance,
dictionary, and quizzes. These enable learners to explore the nuances of form, meaning,
and collocation of the words on these lists. Cobb (2007) also indicates that Lextutor is
a good place where learners can grow their vocabulary systematically, read texts with
known proportions of unknown lexis chosen in accordance with existing knowledge
and learning goals, and maximize the vocabulary learning opportunities such as
recycling, re-contextualization and transfer with these texts through the use of Lextutor.
Moreover, Nation and Chung (2009) show that Computer-assisted learning can help
learners learn vocabulary effectively. They emphasize that many of its benefits to
vocabulary learning involve Tom Cobb’s Lextutor. Therefore, Lextutor is considered
to be a useful tool for innovation and research in vocabulary teaching and learning
(Nation & Chung, 2009).
2.3.2. The benefits of the Web VP on vocabulary and reading comprehension
The Web VP in Lextutor is very beneficial in helping teachers determine how
much and what vocabulary students need to read a text successfully. First, in order to
facilitate their process of reading, teachers should know how much vocabulary students
need to be able to deal with a text. According to Krashen (1982), a primary condition
for second language acquisition is that a written text should be comprehensible or
should be made to be comprehensible. Therefore, selecting a suitable input text plays
a very important role. Accordingly, Nation (2006) suggests that
An important issue in studies of how much vocabulary is needed to read a text
or listen to a movie is what amount of text coverage is needed for adequate
comprehension to be likely to occur. Putting it another way, how much
unknown vocabulary can be tolerated in a text before it interferes with
comprehension? (p. 61)
In fact, Laufer (1989), Lui and Nation (1985) and Hu and Nation (2000) show
that only when L2 students have 95 percent to 98 percent of the running words in the
given text, can they manage to achieve their reading goals. Nation and Chung (2009)
explain that “there should not be more than one unknown word in every 50 running
words” (p. 543). These results, which again emphasize the importance of vocabulary
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in reading comprehension, are also true in an EFL setting. In order to read general
English texts effectively, EFL students should have a vocabulary size of 3000 word
families (Laufer, 1989), or even 5000 word families which can help them achieve about
98 percent coverage of tokens (Hirsh & Nation, 1992). It is obvious that if EFL
students’ vocabulary level is lower than 95 percent, they cannot deal with the unknown
running words in the target texts and thus their reading comprehension will be
unsuccessful.
Second, what vocabulary students should learn to read successfully is what
teachers need to know. According to Nation (2003), the most useful vocabulary that
every English language learner needs is the most frequent 1,000 word families of
English. In fact, from the frequency-based theory, it is clear that if a learner knows all
10 words from a 1,000 word corpus list, then he or she is likely to know all of the words
in the list. Besides, the words a learner knows are most likely the highest frequency
words. For example, if a learner knows 2,000 words, we assume that it is the 2,000
highest frequency English words that they know. As a result, we can find out which
words in a text the learners are not likely to know. Those words are lower frequency
than the number they already know. Besides, the theory of vocabulary acquisition
indicates that one mechanism of learning is related to natural frequency. It means that
words that are of higher frequency in natural use will be learnt before lower frequency
words. Therefore, it is important to analyze a text in terms of the lexical frequency
because research into vocabulary size and coverage has shown that the most common
words in the language account for most texts (Buckmaster, 2015).
Besides, according to Carroll, Davies and Richman (1971), the most common
two thousand words cover 81.3% of text. Moreover, Lui and Nation (1985) recommend
that guessing word meaning from a context is only useful when the person already
knows about 95% of the words of a text. In order to reach this level of knowledge,
students would have to learn another 10.500 words; however, it is impossible for them
to do that. Consequently, one of the alternatives is VP, which can help analyze texts to
determine their suitability for particular learners or to indicate how they should be
adapted or sequenced to be suitable for learners (Nation and Chung, 2009).

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The assumptions behind the results mentioned above indicate that teachers
should profile the written texts to select target vocabulary for intensive reading and
grade texts for extensive reading. In specific, if a learner already knows 95-98% of the
vocabulary in a text, they are likely to comprehend it. Therefore, this ensures that the
2-5% of the new vocabulary plus other aspects of language competence are learnable
and the learners’ reading should be successful. The Web VP in Lextutor is thus
beneficial for teaching vocabulary and reading comprehension.
2.4.

Procedure for applying the Web VP

2.4.1. Text analysis with the Web VP in Lextutor
In order to profile the written texts to select the target vocabulary for intensive
reading, the teacher first inputs the text into the Web VP on Lextutor.

Figure 2.2: The input of the text
According to Cobb (2004), the Classic analysis on VP analyses a text in terms
of which words and how many words are in the first 1000 most frequent words in
English [K-1]; the second most frequent 1000 words [K2] and the Academic word list
(AWL).

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As can be seen in Figure 2.4, K1 words are in blue and make up 83.8% of the
text. K2 are in green and make up a further 7.87%. AWL words, in yellow, are just over
0.93% and off-list words in red account for the remainder – almost 7.41%.

Figure 2.3: Text analysis 1

Figure 2.4: Text analysis 2
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In the case of intensive reading, this view and analysis will give teachers an idea
of the level of difficulty of a text and the density of ‘difficult’ words. As such, the Web
VP in Lextutor can help teachers to decide which words they can accept and which
words need modifying or rejecting after profiling the written texts to select the target
vocabulary for intensive reading with the help of the Web VP in Lextutor. In other
words, the teachers can identify their target word list and begin to profile the vocabulary
for comprehensibility for their students. Figure 2.4 shows that the percentage of K1 is
less than 95-98%; therefore, students cannot comprehend the reading text clearly in this
case (Hu & Nation, 2000; Laufer, 1989; Lui & Nation, 1985).
Therefore, the researcher needs to apply necessary activities in dealing with
vocabulary in intensive reading to make sure that her students will know 95-98% of
vocabulary in the text. This ensures that they can understand the text completely.
2.4.2. Dealing with vocabulary in intensive reading
It is necessary for students to participate in activities in dealing with vocabulary.
Gairns and Redman (1986) stress the importance of these activities in the classroom.
They asserts that the activities offer students opportunities to memorize the words
effectively, and thus their long-term memory of words will be facilitated. Nation (2004)
suggests some useful activities of dealing vocabulary in intensive reading, which
support students’ words’ long-term memory.
2.4.2.1.

Pre-teaching

According to Nation (2004), teacher’s vocabulary pre-teaching can help learners
solve some vocabulary problems before learners meet them in the text. Cowell (2012,
p. 20) recommends that pre-teaching vocabulary contributes to making a text become
easier to comprehend by focusing students’ brain to this comprehension and “not
decoding or determining the meaning of unknown words during target passage
reading”. Moreover, Graves (2006, as cited in Cowell, 2012, p. 20) indicates that preteaching vocabulary provides students with opportunities to focus on the content of the
target text they are going to read, and thus their reading comprehension will be
improved. In fact, students’ strong understanding of words’ meaning enables them to
comprehend the target text better (Cowell, 2012). Beck, Perfetti, and McKeown (1982)
explain that
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