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«An Empirical Study of the Effectiveness of Negotiation of Meaning in L2 Vocabulary Acquisition of Chinese Learners of English Baoshu Yi1 & Zhinong ...»

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Match task 2 consisted of five Chinese and five English words. They were selected carefully after Test2. The participants in Group 1 were requested to match Chinese words and English words according to the researcher’s English explanation with the help of negotiating meaning with peers or teachers while those in Group 3 were asked to do the same thing without the help of negotiation of meaning.

In the match tasks, if a participant got one match correct, he/she could obtain one point. The total score for Group 2 and Group 4 was 10 points while the total score for Group 1 and Group 3 was 5 points.

In the post-task phase which happened a week later, it included two post-vocabulary tests (Test 3 and Test 4). In Test 3, the high school participants were asked to fill in the blanks with the words given, which the participants in Group 2 and Group 4 had already learnt before. In Test 4, the college participants were requested to fill in the blanks with the right words, which the participants in Group 1 and Group 3 had also learnt before. If a participant got one question right, he or she could obtain one point.

3.5 Measurement of Frequency of Negotiation of Meaning Frequency of negotiation of meaning was calculated when the participants’ conversation records were transcribed. Frequency of negotiation of meaning was counted with reference to C-units as well as T-units. In the experiment, ways of negotiation of meaning include repetition, confirmation, confirmation check, clarification request (Vanoris & Gass, 1985), pretend (Foster 1998), avoidance of the topic, deliberate change of the topic (Lee, 2001), recasting ( Ellis, 2003), and the use of the first language. For instance:

Teacher: separate means divide. Anyone can not separate Taiwan from us (pre-modified input) Student 1/Student 2: open… it ? (Clarification request) Teacher: similar to open…But not open (recasting) Student 1/Student 2: similar to open? FenKai? (Confirmation check and the use of L1) Teacher: That’ right. (Confirmation) In this dialogue, frequency of negotiation of meaning is counted to be 5 (clarification request, recasting, the use of L1, confirmation check and confirmation).

4. Results and Discussion

4.1 Results The data collected in this experiment are finally analyzed by SPSS 17 with an aim of showing whether or not www.ccsenet.org/elt English Language Teaching Vol. 6, No. 10; 2013 there are any differences in comprehensible input and vocabulary score between the control groups and the experimental groups in the match tasks and the post-vocabulary tests.

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Table 3 shows that in the high school groups, there is a significant difference between the control group and the experimental group in terms of comprehensible input and vocabulary score, with P value being 0.0000.05, The experimental group (mean=9. 3750) outperforms the control group (mean=5. 4048 ) in both comprehensible input and vocabulary score. However, it is not the same case with the groups of the college school. It is found that there is no significant difference between the control group and the experimental group in terms of comprehensible input because the value of comprehensible input is constant (mean=5. 0000) and t-value can not be computed at all, whereas, a significant difference can be seen in vocabulary score between the control group and the experimental group (P=0. 0000.05). The experimental group (mean=3. 7143) outperforms the control group (mean=2. 1579).

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In Table 4, it can be seen that there is a positive correlation between comprehensible input and frequency of negotiation of meaning (P=0.0200.05) in the high school groups. It is also correlated with vocabulary score

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(p=0.0190.05). In addition, vocabulary score and frequency of negotiation of meaning have a strong correlation with each other (P=0. 0000.05). It is worth mentioning that Pearson Correlation between vocabulary score and frequency of negotiation of meaning is much higher (0.761) than other Pearson correlations (0.313, 0.310).

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In Table 5, it is seen that different from the high school groups, no correlation can be found between frequency of negotiation of meaning and vocabulary score ( P=0. 1270.05) in the college groups. It is the same case with others. There is no correlation between frequency of negotiation of meaning and comprehensible input, vocabulary score because the value of comprehensible input is constant.

4.2 Discussion

1) When learning new words, can learners with negotiation of meaning acquire more comprehensible input than those without negotiation of meaning?

It is not simply noted that the participants in the experimental groups with negotiation of meaning could attain more comprehensible input than the control groups without negotiation of meaning. The situation in this experiment is more complicated than expected, which could be better illustrated in Table 3 and Table 4.

In the college groups, no correlation is found between frequency of negotiation of meaning and comprehensible input. That is to say, in the control group (pre-modified input plus non-negotiation of meaning), the participants attain the same level of comprehensible input as their counterparts in the experimental group (pre-modified input plus negotiation of meaning), which seems to support the results obtained by Ellis and He (1999), who find no significant difference in comprehensible input between the pre-modified input group and the interactionally modified input group. As far as the college students in this experiment are concerned, through the teacher’s pre-modified input, the control group (pre-modified input + non-negotiation of meaning) also gets a good





understanding of the target items. For instance:

Teacher: drastic means strong and violent.

Students: should be B.

Teacher: contraption means a strange - looking device Students: should be C Teacher: reiterate means restate, repeat, do or say something again and again Students: should E Teacher: drudge, do uninteresting and hard work.

Students: should be A.

www.ccsenet.org/elt English Language Teaching Vol. 6, No. 10; 2013 Teacher: contingent means accidental, by chance, by accident Students: should be D. (See Match task 2) With the assistance of teachers’ explanations (pre-modified input), the participants in the control group get all the answers correct. It seems that pre-modified input could cause the same level of comprehension as pre-modified input plus negotiation of meaning. However, in the high school groups, a different report is made. A strong correlation is found between frequency of negotiation of meaning and comprehensible input. According to Table 4, the correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (0.02 0.05). In other words, the participants in the experimental group (negotiation of meaning and pre-modified input) obtain a higher level of comprehensible input than those in the control group (pre-modified input), which seems to support the previous studies made by Pica & Doughty (1986), Pica, et al (1989), Loschky (1994), Fuente (2002) and Al-Mahrooqi & Tuzlukova (2011), who claim that negotiation of meaning helps generate comprehensible input. According to Long (1985)’s interaction hypothesis, interaction provides comprehensible input. The more L2 interaction the learner holds with others, the more comprehensible input the learner will receive.

It is worth noting that taking a further look at Table 3 and Table 4, it is observed that the participants from the high school seem to rely more on negotiation of meaning than the college counterparts do with a view to attaining comprehensible input since no difference is found in comprehensible input between the experimental group and the control group from the college. By contrast, with the growth of age, the college participants might prefer to depend more on their cognitive ability instead of negotiation of meaning with peers or teachers. In other words, the college groups are able to comprehend the new words with pre-modified input without explicit ways of negotiation of meaning.

To summarize, in the high school experimental group (pre-modified input and negotiation of meaning), the participants are able to obtain more comprehensible input whereas the participants from the college experimental group (pre-modified and negotiation of meaning) attain merely the same level comprehensible input as those in the college control group (pre-modified input).

2) Is there a positive correlation between negotiation of meaning and L2 vocabulary acquisition?

To answer this question, two types of analyses are made, one is the independent samples T-test which intends to show whether or not there is any difference in vocabulary acquisition between the experimental groups and the control groups, and the other is correlation analysis that aims to investigate whether or not there is a positive correlation between frequency of negotiation of meaning and vocabulary acquisition. Both analyses support that vocabulary acquisition in this study has a positive correlation with negotiation of meaning except that the complicated findings in the college groups partly support the positive correlation.

Firstly, according to the independent samples T-test in Table 3, both of the experimental groups (mean=5. 8393, 3.7143,) outperform the two control groups (mean= 2.1667, 3.7143) in the post-vocabulary tests that are held a week later (P=0. 0000.05). The participants with the help of negotiation of meaning and pre-modified input do much better than those with only pre-modified input in acquiring new words.

Secondly, according to correlation analysis in Table 4 and Table 5, it is found that there is a positive correlation between frequency of negotiation of meaning and vocabulary acquisition in the high school groups. Pearson Correlation is 0.761, P=0. 000. It is believed that vocabulary acquisition of the high school participants is strongly affected by their frequency of negotiation of meaning with teachers or peers. Conversely, as regards the participants in the college groups, no correlation can be found between negotiation of meaning and vocabulary acquisition.

It is worth mentioning why the college experimental group (pre-modified input + negotiation of meaning) obviously outperforms the college control group (pre-modified input) in vocabulary acquisition, nevertheless, no strong correlation is found between frequency of negotiation of meaning and vocabulary acquisition in the college experimental group. It is partly because although there is no strong correlation between frequency of negotiation of meaning and vocabulary acquisition in the college experimental group, negotiation of meaning may provide a desirable situation in which the college experimental participants are able to make better use of their cognitive competence in acquiring new words so that eventually they can do better in vocabulary acquisition than the control group. It is also partly because the colleges participants may prefer to adopt implicit ways of negotiation of meaning that are not counted in this study.

To sum up, as far as the high school participants are concerned, negotiation of meaning with teachers or peers helps the participants to obtain more comprehensible input which promotes their vocabulary acquisition whereas as regards the college participants, negotiation of meaning with others makes no difference in their www.ccsenet.org/elt English Language Teaching Vol. 6, No. 10; 2013 comprehensible input but finally facilitates their L2 vocabulary acquisition.

5. Conclusion Based on the aforementioned results and analyses, the empirical study supports the effectiveness of negotiation of meaning in L2 vocabulary acquisition of Chinese learners of English. Firstly, in the high school groups, the experimental group (pre-modified input +negotiation of meaning) apparently outperforms the control group (pre-modified input) in terms of comprehensible input as well as vocabulary acquisition. The higher frequency of negotiation of meaning the participants have in the experimental group, the more comprehensible input they are able to obtain, and the better they perform in acquiring new words. Secondly, in the college groups, the experimental group (pre-modified input +negotiation of meaning) also outperforms the control group (pre-modified input) in terms of vocabulary acquisition. However, no difference is found between the experimental group and the control group in terms of comprehensible input, nor is a strong correlation found among comprehensible input, frequency of negotiation of meaning and vocabulary acquisition in the college experimental group. Finally, it seems that learners in the high school benefit more from negotiation of meaning and more rely on interaction with their teachers or peers when acquiring new words and obtaining comprehensible input whereas the college learners might prefer to depend on implicit ways of negotiation of meaning or cognitive competence in acquiring new words.

References Al-Mahrooqi, R., & Tuzlukova, V. (2011). Negotiating meaning in the EFL context. Pertanika J. Soc. SCI. & Hum, 19(1), 183-196.

Bitchener, J. (2003). The value of negotiated interaction for learning vocabulary. The 16th educational conference Melbourne, Auckland University of technology.

Blake, R. (2000). Computer mediated communication: A window on L2 Spanish interlanguage. Language Learning and Technology, 4(1), 120-136.

Breen, M. (2002). Classroom decision making. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.

Ellis, R. (1985). Teacher-pupil interaction in second language development. In S. Gass, & C. Madden (Eds.), Input in second language acquisition (pp. 69-85). Rowley, MA: Newbury House.

Ellis, R. (1995). Modified oral input and the acquisition of word meanings. Applied Linguistics, 16, 409-435.

Ellis, R. (1997). SLA research and language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ellis, R. (2003). Task-based language learning and teaching. New York: Oxford University Press.

Ellis, R. (2005). Analyzing learner language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ellis, R., & He. (1999). The roles of modified input and output in the incidental acquisition of word meanings.

Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 21, 285-301.

Ellis, R., & Heimbach, R. (1997). Bugs and birds: Children's acquisition of second language vocabulary through interaction. System, 25(2), 247-259.



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