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Lexical instruction to improve l2 reading comprehension

Lexical instruction to
improve L2 reading
comprehension
Prepared by Nguyen Chi Duc,
School of English Language Teaching Methodology,
University of Languages and International Studies, VNUH


Foci


Section 1: Lexical load and
treatment



Understand the effects of lexical
load in a text on its
comprehensibility;






Section 2: Lexical tools in
unpacking a text



Use Vocabulary Size/Level Test to
learn about your students’ current
lexical sizes/levels;

Use repeated key words and its
referents to generate a text’s
general topic;



Use cohesive devices to draw
out the text organization;



Use Vocabprofile to analyze the
lexical load in a text;





Use the outcome from this analysis
to select what words to be treated
and taught;

Use the paraphrased patterns
to locate the needed
information in a text.




Use the four strands to select
suitable techniques for lexical
instruction.


1. A text’s comprehensibility


In groups of six, brainstorm all the factors
influencing your students’ reading comprehension
of a text, and then rank them in order of their
importance.


A brief summary of research

Background
Knowledge
Lexical base

Comprehension

Skills


Lexical Quality Hypothesis
(Perfetti and Hart, 2000)

Lexical
Decoding
knowledge
capacity
Text comprehension


Empirical findings:
Lexicon proves to be the most consistently influential factor on reading
comprehension



Chall (1958)



Klare (1963)



Elley (1969)



Carrel (1987)



Brown (1997)


A case study


Many students claimed that they could complete the required reading
tasks in the textbook, yet without a sufficient comprehension of the
target text.



Discuss the possible reasons for this claim in your groups.


2. Threshold of lexical load and a
text’s comprehensibility


Some key findings from research:



Density of 15% unknown words  failed to understand (Marks et al.,
1974)



Density of 8%  failed to understand (Freebody & Anderson, 1983)



Density of 7%  able to understand (Holley, 1973)



Density of 5%  reasonable understanding (Liu & Nation, 1985)



Density of 2%  optimal to understand (Nation, 2001)


Suggested threshold of known
words in a text

95% - 98% known words
For
Reasonable Comprehension
(Nation and Webb, 2011)


3. Analysis of lexical load in a text


Discuss the following questions with your partners in your groups:



(a) How would you know what words your students may have learnt
or yet learnt before you actually start the lesson?



(b) How would you know how many words in a text might be
unknown to the target students?



(c) What so-called “new” words do you often choose to teach in the
pre-reading stage and why do you choose them?


1.

MAI NTAI N: Can they maintain it?
a. keep it as it is
b. make it larger
c. get a better one than it
d. get it

1.

SEE: They saw it.
a. cut
b. waited for
c. looked at
d. started

2.

TI ME: They have a lot of time.
a. money
b. food
c. hours
d. friends

2.

STONE: He sat on a stone.
a. hard thing
b. kind of chair
c. soft thing on the floor
d. part of a tree

3.

PERI OD: I t was a difficult period.
a. question
b. time
c. thing to do
d. book

3.

UPSET: I am upset.
a. tired
b. famous
c. rich
d. unhappy

4.

FI GURE: I s this the right figure?
a. answer
b. place
c. time
d. number

4.

DRAWER: The drawer was empty.
a. sliding box
b. place where cars are kept
c. cupboard to keep things cold
d. animal house

5.

POOR: We are poor.
a. have no money
b. feel happy
c. are very interested
d. do not like to work hard

5.

PATI ENCE: He has no patience.
a. will not wait happily
b. has no free time
c. has no faith
d. does not know what is fair

6.

DRI VE: He drives fast.
a. swims
b. learns
c. throws balls
d. uses a car

6.

NI L: His mark for that question was nil.
a. very bad
b. nothing
c. very good
d. in the middle

7.

J UMP: She tried to jump.
a. lie on top of the water
b. get off the ground suddenly
c. stop the car at the edge of the road
d. move very fast

7.

PUB: They went to the pub.
a. place where people drink and talk
b. place that looks after money
c. large building with many shops
d. building for swimming

8.

SHOE: Where is your shoe?
a. the person who looks after you
b. the thing you keep your money in
c. the thing you use for writing
d. the thing you wear on your foot

8.

CI RCLE: Make a circle.
a. rough picture
b. space with nothing in it
c. round shape
d. large hole

9.

STANDARD: Her standards are very
high.
a. the bits at the back under her shoes
b. the marks she gets in school
c. the money she asks for
d. the levels she reaches in everything

9.

MI CROPONE: Please use the microphone.
a. machine for making food hot
b. machine that makes sounds louder
c. machine that makes things look bigger
d. small telephone that can be carried around

10.

PRO: He's a pro.

Question 1: Understand your students
http://www.lextutor.ca/tests/.


Question 1: Understand your
students
Vocabulary sizes test

Vocabulary levels test

(Nation, 1990)

(Beglar & Nation,

Scoring: correct

2007)
> 83% = 100% at each

answers x 100
level
Interpretation: 3000 = > 83% in K2, K3, K5, AWL
K3  this learner

 this learner might know

might know 3000

roughly 7000 most

most frequent word

frequent word families in

families in English.

English.


Question 2 + 3: Lexical load in a
text
http://www.lextutor.ca/vp/bnc/


Question 2 + 3: Lexical load in a
text

The rest are proper nouns which are then not counted in this
profile.


Question 2 + 3: Lexical load in a
text


4. Treatment of the overloaded
vocabulary items


Discuss in your groups the following questions:



(a) how do you often present a new word’s meaning to your learners?



(b) how do you often help them to practice it?



(c) are these techniques effective for their uptake, retention, and use
of the target words’ form and meaning?


Four strands in vocabulary teaching
(Nation, 2007)
Meaning-focused

Learners have chance to meet a new

input

language pattern in a meaningful context.

Meaning-focused

They have chance to trial this new language

output

pattern in a meaningful way.

Language-focused

They also have chance to intentionally learn it.

learning
Fluency development

Finally, they have chance to automatize its use in
communication.


Four strands in vocabulary teaching


Suggest one teaching activity for each strand above:

Meaning-focused
input
Meaning-focused
output
Language-focused
learning
Fluency development


Four strands in vocabulary teaching
Four strands (Nation,

Suggested techniques (Nation &

2007)

Webb, 2011)

Meaning-focused

L2 lexical inferencing

input
Meaning-focused

Meaning negotiation

output
Language-focused

Word cards

learning
Fluency development

Prompted speaking


5. Treatment of overloaded vocabulary
items – L2 lexical inferencing (Haastrup,
1991; Nguyen, 2012)


Core Principle:

Try to create a favorable condition for your students to make good
guesses (Nation, 2001) since good guesses would benefit their uptake,
retention and use of the target words, and poor guesses can be
dangerous due to its traits being imprinted on your students’ brain.


Discuss, in your groups, how to create such a favorable condition.


L2 lexical inferencing


Supportive contextual clues;



98% of the words in the context known to your
students;



Strategy training.


Some common contextual clues


Practice:

(1) use vocabprofile to ensure the threshold of 98%
known words in the context, (2) modify the context to reach the
threshold if necessary, and then (3) embed some contextual clue for
each item.


Treatment of overloaded vocabulary
items – negotiation of meaning
 Read

the extract from a study by Nation and

Hamilton-Jenkins (2000) and discuss the
benefits of this activity.


Practice:

(1) guess the meaning of the underlined words, and
then (2) negotiate their meanings with your friends in your groups.


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