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Title:The Impact of Topic Familiarity, L2 Reading Proficiency, and L2 Passage Sight Vocabulary on Incidental Vocabulary Gain Through Reading for Adult Learners of Spanish as a Foreign Language
Author(s):Pulido, Diana Christine
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):VanPatten, Bill
Department / Program:Spanish
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Language and Literature
Abstract:This study examined the nature of the impact of the following reader-based variables on L2 incidental vocabulary gain through reading: (a) L2 reading proficiency, (b) L2 passage sight vocabulary, (c) topic familiarity, and (d) course level. A secondary question investigated the presence of any story level effects on gain. Participants were 99 university students studying Spanish as an L2 at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels. Pretests included (a) a topic-familiarity questionnaire, (b) the Adult Basic Learning Examination, (Karlsen & Gardner, 1990) to assess L2 reading proficiency, and (c) a checklist and L2-L1 translation test to assess passage sight vocabulary. All subjects read four brief narratives with two depicting more familiar scenarios and two depicting less familiar scenarios. Embedded once in each story were 8 nonsense words. Two days after reading, vocabulary gain was measured via a supply-definition task followed by a select-definition task. Analyses of covariance and logistic regression were used. Results revealed an unequivocal consistent significant impact of L2 reading proficiency on gains across all measures, whereby the rich got richer. There was also a strong consistent impact of topic familiarity, on the select-definition measure: gains were superior when learners read more familiar as opposed to less familiar stories. Results were less compelling for the variable of L2 passage sight vocabulary. There was a significant consistent impact on only two analyses, with both measures. Yet, on other analyses significant effects were absent, or only observed via interactions with course level, where significant positive effects were observed only for the intermediate level learners. Course level was the weakest of the four variables, only accounting for consistent significant differences in gain on one analysis, whereby the advanced and intermediate learners gained significantly more vocabulary than the beginners. Story effects were also obtained and additionally qualified by differential patterns across the various course levels, suggesting that familiarity might be better conceived of as a continuum. Task effects were observed for the dependent measures, whereby gains were higher on the select-definition in comparison to the supply-definition measure.
Issue Date:2000
Description:270 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2000.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9990116
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2000

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