Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 48, Issue 5, pp 1005–1023 | Cite as

The Use of a Reading Lexicon to Aid Contextual Vocabulary Acquisition by EFL Arab Learners

  • Maha Alyami
  • Mohammed Ali MohsenEmail author


This article investigates how the use of a deliberate approach of analyzing a given reading may predict differences in CVA effectiveness. Sixty Arab EFL learners were randomly assigned to an experimental group and a control group, thirty participants for each. The experimental group received training in the deliberate Clarke and Nation (System 8:211–220, 1980) CVA technique, whereas the control group were not guided through a training method. Then, both groups were asked to answer three vocabulary tests and then participate to finish a series of six readings adjusted using Nation’s K-level reading lexicon to control the difficult words during readings. After treatments, the students took a post-test vocabulary session. Results show that the group that have used the deliberate CVA technique retained about twice as many new words as the other group did. That is the use of a deliberate-CVA methodology significantly improves learning. The experimental manipulation produced a learning effect that was 76.1% greater than that of the control group in terms of word context recognition and 128.0% greater than that of the control group in terms of word definition accuracy. Pedagogical implications, limitations and directions for further research are discussed.


Contextual vocabulary acquisition English as a foreign language K-level word lists Reading lexicon 



The authors would like to thank the Deanship of Scientific Research at Najran University for funding this project (NU/SHED/16/065).


  1. Alkhawaldeh, A. (2012). High school students’ challenges in English reading comprehension in Amman Second Directorate of Education. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 39, 214–228.Google Scholar
  2. Ames, W. S. (1966). The development of a classification scheme of contextual aids. Reading Research Quarterly, 2, 57–82. Scholar
  3. Arnaud, P. J. L., & Béjoint, H. (1992). Vocabulary and applied linguistics. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bruner, J. S. (1978). The role of dialogue in language acquisition. In A. Sinclair, R. J. Jarvelle, & W. J. M. Levelt (Eds.), The child’s concept of language. New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  5. Carter, R., & McCarthy, M. (1988). Vocabulary and language teaching. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  6. Child, D. (2016). Readability score. [Computer program.] Bolney, Sussex, UK: Added Bytes Ltd. Retrieved from
  7. Clarke, D. F., & Nation, I. S. P. (1980). Guessing the meanings of words from context. System, 8, 211–220. Scholar
  8. Cobb, T. (2016). Compleat lexical tutor v.8 [Computer program.] Montréal, QC: Université du Québec à Montréal. Retrieved from
  9. Cremer, M. (2013). Accessing word meaning: Semantic word knowledge and reading comprehension in Dutch monolingual and bilingual fifth-graders. (Doctoral dissertation). University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands.Google Scholar
  10. Elgort, I. (2011). Deliberate learning and vocabulary acquisition in a second language. Language Learning: A Journal of Research in Language Studies, 61, 367–413. Scholar
  11. Gorman, B. K. (2012). Relationships between vocabulary size, working memory, and phonological awareness in Spanish-speaking English language learners. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 21, 109–123. Scholar
  12. Hafner, L. E., Weaver, W. W., & Powell, K. (1970). Psychological and perceptual correlates of reading achievement among fourth graders. Journal of Reading Behavior, 2, 281–290. Scholar
  13. Harmon, J. M., Wood, K. D., & Kiser, K. (2009). Promoting vocabulary learning with interactive word wall. Middle School Journal, 40(3), 58–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Harris, L., Olson, A., & Humphreys, G. (2013). Overcoming the effect of letter confusability in letter-by-letter reading: A rehabilitation study. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 23, 429–462. Scholar
  15. Horst, M., Cobb, T., & Meara, P. (1998). Beyond A Clockwork Orange: Acquiring second language vocabulary through reading. Reading in a Foreign Language, 11, 207–223.Google Scholar
  16. Kibby, M. W. (1995). The organization and teaching of things and the words that signify them. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 39, 208–223.Google Scholar
  17. Kirmizi, Ö., & Topcu, N. (2014). Vocabulary learning strategies of Turkish EFL students at Karabük University. Journal of Graduate School of Social Sciences, 18, 217–231.Google Scholar
  18. Lucas, R., & Frazier Norbury, C. (2015). Making inferences from text: It’s vocabulary that matters. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 58, 1224–1232. Scholar
  19. Madrigal-Hopes, D. L., Villavicencio, E., Foote, M. M., & Green, C. (2014). Transforming English language learners’ work readiness: Case studies in explicit, work-specific vocabulary instruction. Adult Learning, 25(2), 47–56. Scholar
  20. Meara, P. (1997). Models of vocabulary acquisition. In N. Schmitt & M. McCarthy (Eds.), Vocabulary: Description, acquisition and pedagogy (pp. 109–121). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Morett, L. (2019). The power of an image: Images, not glosses, enhance learning of concrete L2 words in beginning learners. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research. Scholar
  22. Mueser, A. M. (1984). Practicing vocabulary in context: Teacher’s guide. New York: Macmillan/McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  23. Mueser, A. M., & Mueser, J. A. (1984). Practicing vocabulary in context. New York: SRA/McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  24. Nation, I. S. P. (1990). Teaching and learning vocabulary. Boston, MA: Heinle&Heinle.Google Scholar
  25. Nation, I. S. P. (2001). Learning vocabulary in another language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pimsleur, P. (1967). A memory schedule. Modern Language Journal, 51, 73–75. Scholar
  27. Pitts, M., White, H., & Krashen, S. (1989). Acquiring second language vocabulary through reading: A replication of the Clockwork Orange study using second language acquirers. Reading in a Foreign Language, 5, 271–275.Google Scholar
  28. Rapaport, W. J. (2003).”What Is the ‘Context’ for Contextual Vocabulary Acquisition?”. In P.P. Slezak (Ed.) Proceedings of the 4th Joint International Conference on Cognitive Science/7th Australasian Society for Cognitive Science Conference (ICCS/ASCS-2003; Sydney, Australia) (Sydney: University of New South Wales) (Vol. 2, pp. 547–552).Google Scholar
  29. Rapaport, W. J., & Kibby, M. W. (2014). Contextual vocabulary acquisition: From algorithm to curriculum. In A. Palma (Ed.). Castañeda and his guises: Essays on the work of Hector-Neri Castañeda (pp. 107–150). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  30. Sternberg, R. J. (1987). Most vocabulary is learned from context. In M. G. McKeown & M. E. Curtis (Eds.), The nature of vocabulary acquisition (pp. 89–105). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  31. Sternberg, R. J., & Powell, J. S. (1983). Comprehending verbal comprehension. American Psychologist, 38, 878–893. Scholar
  32. Sternberg, R. J., Powell, J. S., & Kaye, D. B. (1983). Teaching vocabulary-building skills: A contextual approach. In A. C. Wilkinson (Ed.), Classroom computers and cognitive science (pp. 121–143). New York, NY: Academic.Google Scholar
  33. Tannenbaum, K. R., Torgesen, J. K., & Wagner, R. K. (2006). Relationships between word knowledge and reading comprehension in third-grade children. Scientific Studies of Reading, 10, 381–398. Scholar
  34. Van Daalen-Kapteijns, M. M., & Elshout-Mohr, M. (1981). The acquisition of word meanings as a cognitive learning process. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 20, 386–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Williams, G. J., & Wood, C. (2012). Sensitivity to the acoustic correlates of lexical stress and their relationship to reading in skilled readers. Advances in Cognitive Psychology, 8, 267–280. Scholar
  36. Xu, J. P. (2009). An experimental study on the effects of different reading tasks on L2 vocabulary acquisition. English Language Teaching, 2(3), 69–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Najran UniversityNajranSaudi Arabia

Personalised recommendations