The Effect of Using the Mother Tongue on Learning Vocabulary in Elementary Levels Compared to Using Dictionary Examples

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To Be Is To Live With God
The Effect of Using the Mother Tongue on Learning Vocabulary in Elementary Levels Compared to Using Dictionary Examples (A Research Proposal)
By: Reza Rouhi Rad
Supervisor: PhD Tahriri
May, 2012

An inseparable part of learning every language is vocabulary. With poor knowledge of grammar and rules of pronunciation, one can communicate, but having an insufficient knowledge of vocabulary may lead to severe problems. Vocabulary knowledge is the most important component of second language (L2) reading comprehension, even more so than background knowledge and syntax (Laufer, 1997). Because of the vast dominance of vocabulary, teaching such a skill is always viewed as a main concern of language teachers. New words sometimes make students frustrated during their learning process. When facing novel words, some students may take refuge to dictionaries or ask for translation into their mother tongue. Of course the type of dictionary which students utilize differs in terms of their level of proficiency. It’s clear that as we consider lower levels, students tend to use more bilingual dictionaries. This can help them find the exact meaning instead of reading a long description of a certain word. It can be considered as a good way of mastering abstract conceptions like love, forget and so on. On the other hand consulting bilingual dictionaries or immediate translation by the teacher in the case of concrete words seems a bit problematic in the future. Such words can be best clarified through illustration, pantomimes, gestures etc. The present research intends to figure out whether translation or the use of dictionaries can help learners expand their knowledge of vocabulary skill. Statement of the Problem

As a key factor over the course of language learning, vocabulary plays a vital and at the same time problematic role. In this regard, Auerbach (1993) asserted that student use of the L1 to decode and interpret L2 is an effective strategy; the value of which is not to be underestimated The point that can be conceived from such notions shed more light on the significance of vocabulary. Lia (2010) also states that “weak vocabulary knowledge often results in poor reading comprehension and low vocabulary results in problems for many middle elementary students’ reading comprehension”. As mentioned before students may deploy two ways of vocabulary learning. Some have tendency toward using dictionaries, and the others ask for immediate translation into their mother tongue. Nichols and Rupley (2004) noted that

The primary strategy used for vocabulary instruction is to focus on the memorization of an arbitrary set list of words. The instructional features typically include looking up the definitions of words in the dictionary, doing some type of skill word (e.g. writing sentences, definitions, word find), and taking a test at the end of the week. (p. 56) This type of instruction has virtually no benefit for English language learning students and often those of low socioeconomic-status because they do not come to the learning situation with the necessary background (Graves, M. F., 2006). On the other hand, some scholars have some quite different views. Hopkins (1988) claims that if the learner of a second language is encouraged to ignore his/her native language, he/ she might well feel identity threatened. The present study deals with the problem of using either dictionary or direct translation in expanding vocabulary skill. So the case of investigation is using whether a dictionary or direct translation in elementary levels of education.

Theoretical Framework
This study tries to come up with the idea of picking up a more suitable way of teaching vocabulary among elementary learners of English. How the use of dictionary examples and translation into the first language affect vocabulary will be investigated. According to Luppescu and Day (1993) the accessibility of...
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