Critical Review

Topics: Language, Orthography, Portmanteau Pages: 5 (1617 words) Published: February 5, 2013
Name: 杨晓婧
Student ID: 2012471
A Critical Review of
Effects of Synonym Generation on Incidental and Intentional L2 Vocabulary Learning During Reading Introduction
This research report written by Joe Barcroft examined effects of synonym generation on second language (L2) vocabulary learning during reading the both incidental and intentional vocabulary learning contexts. 114 Spanish-speaking university students at low- and high-intermediate proficiency levels participated in the study. They were assigned to one of four conditions: (a) Read for meaning only ( incidental ); (b) Read for meaning and try to learn the translated words ( intentional ); (c) Read for meaning and generate Spanish synonyms for the translated words ( incidental + semantic); (d) Read for meaning, try to learn the 10 translated words, and generate Spanish synonyms for the translated words ( intentional + semantic ), and they were asked to read an English passage containing 10 target words translated in the text. It was found that, Target word recall was higher when explicit instructions to learn new words were provided and when synonym generation was not required. Negative effects of synonym generation emerged in both the incidental and intentional learning Conditions. In this critical review, basically based on the structure of the report, comments will be issued upon literature review of the study, the research itself, as well as the pedagogical implications of the the research.

On Literature Review
In this section, the author reviews many researches that leading up to the current study. The first part of the review examines theoretical perspectives and research with regard to semantic elaboration and memory for different types of target items. Joe Barcroft refers to three frameworks on vocabulary learning, namely the levels of processing (LOP), the transfer appropriate processing (TAP), and the type of processing-resource allocation (TOPRA) model. He further explains the differences of TOPRA, and reviews three studies on L2 intentional vocabulary learning that have supported the predictions of the TOPRA model by demonstrating negative effects for semantically oriented tasks on L2 word-form learning. The second part focuses on the distinction between incidental and intentional vocabulary learning and considers why the effects of semantic elaboration may or may not differ for these two types of vocabulary learning. Joe Barcroft introduces the incidental vocabulary learning and intentional vocabulary learning in detail, and explains what is attention-drawing hypothesis and resource-depletion hypothesis. The literature review of this study is very thorough and detailed. Most previous studies on the effects of semantic elaboration on L2 vocabulary learning which of significant importance are covered in it. Therefore, for those students who are interested in the L2 vocabulary learning, this research report can be a valuable reference.

On Research
Research Value
As the author said, “the current study expands on existing research on semantically elaborative tasks during intentional vocabulary learning by examining how requiring learners to perform a semantically oriented task, synonym generation, would affect both intentional and incidental L2 vocabulary learning”(Joe Barcroft, 2009, p.87). In addition, the study included two L2 proficiency levels (high and low intermediate) in order to examine whether the effects of semantic elaboration on incidental vocabulary learning might be moderated by proficiency level. Therefore, compared with the previous studies, this study is more sophisticated in that it involves three pairs of independent variables: incidental vs. intentional, -semantic vs. +semantic, and low intermediate vs. high intermediate. Participants

The participants in the study were 114 Spanish-speaking university students learning L2 English at a large university in Mexico City. There were 59 in low-intermediate classes...

References: Barcroft, J. (2009). Effects of Synonym Generation on Incidental and Intentional L2 Vocabulary Learning During Reading. TESOL Quarterly, Vol. 43, No.1, 79-103.
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