1-1 Introductory Note
Learning vocabulary is an important aspect of the listening, speaking reading and writing skills for EFL students.
This study is to investigate the efficiency of the EFL college students in learning word derivation. The present study is concerned with prefixes and suffixes since these two categories deal with forming new words and they both represent an active role in building new words in English.
1-2 The Problem of the Study
“Language is one of the most fundamental aspects of human behavior and the development of language into a refined instrument of expression and communication is probably man’s greatest achievement”. (Hartmann and Stork, 1976:vii).
Grammar is an essential part of any language. Since there is no language without sounds, there is no language without grammar. (Nasr, 1980: 52).
In the traditional description of the grammatical system, there is usually a two fold division: morphology and syntax. According to this description, syntax deals with the distribution of words (i.e word forms) and morphology with their internal grammatical structure. [Lyons, 1981: 103].
Lado (1964: 218) stipulates that “morphology is a description of the morphemes of a language and the patterns of formation of words”.
The study of the morphology of a language comprises two parts. The first deals with the realization of grammatical categories, systems or meanings by mean of inflection and the second deals with the combining of word constituents as the means of deriving new word (Jackson, 1985:5).
Learning a foreign language is a difficult task for all students who find difficult in: how to select the word whose symbols accurately represent the concept which they have in their minds, and how to select the proper word to fit a concept.
We all know the situation where a student has been learning over a number of years to use language in a natural context and finds that he still lacks many vocabularies that he mostly needs.
Students know hundreds of English words, but they can’t use them in their reading or writing English language. Fries (1967: 3) claims that “mastery of the “word” the vocabulary of foreign language is found in our actual experience and it takes time”. Communicating in a foreign language is not very difficult provided that one knows the appropriate vocabulary and then some form of interchange of language is possible. Without vocabulary it is impossible to communicate. [Wilkins, 1974: 111].
Through teaching the English language, it has been found that students face many difficulties in using words with (prefixes and suffixes) which play a great role in changing the word from one part of speech to another, and this accordingly will change its meaning (Al-Rifa’i, 1995). A word used in different contexts may have different meanings, thus, simply learning the definition of a word without examples on where and when the word occurs will not help the learner to fully understand its meaning.
The present study is concerned with word derivation (prefixes and suffixes) since these two categories deal with forming new words and they both represent a productive source of forming new words in English. Students of English must learn which suffix, for instance, or which change is used with each word, for they are not interchangeable. For many words we can say what part of speech they are until we determine how they are used in a sentence.
Clark (1973: 47) thinks that “lexical words are more important to the construction process than the grammatical words”.
It is true, however, that whenever we think of language and language learning, we usually think of mastering of vocabulary of learning the word. This common reaction seems to arise from our experience with our language (Fries, 1967: 2).
Rowley (1971: 167) asserts that acquiring vocabulary is one of the most tedious learning tasks confronting the language learner. The task is difficult not only...