Effects of semantic transparency of Chinese disyllabic compound words on CSL learners' incidental vocabulary learning through reading

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Effects of semantic transparency of Chinese disyllabic compound words on CSL learners' incidental vocabulary learning through reading

 

Author: Tang, Ming
Title: Effects of semantic transparency of Chinese disyllabic compound words on CSL learners' incidental vocabulary learning through reading
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2016
Subject: Chinese language -- Study and teaching -- Foreign speakers.
Chinese language -- Compound words.
Reading comprehension.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Chinese and Bilingual Studies
Pages: xix, 374 pages : illustrations
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2925469
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/8721
Abstract: This study investigated the effect of semantic transparency of Chinese disyllabic compound words on CSL learners' incidental vocabulary learning through sentence-level reading and passage-level reading. The accuracy of learners' lexical inferencing and CSL learners' use of inference strategy were compared between different types of words (transparent, semi-transparent, and opaque words), contexts (sentence and passage contexts), learners with different L1 backgrounds (with and without a Chinese character background in their L1s) and learners with different levels of Chinese morphological awareness (high and low levels). This study was conducted among adult learners studying Chinese as a second language at universities in mainland China. In order to reveal the whole picture, the researcher applied multiple investigative techniques to collect both quantitative and qualitative data in two phases of the study. A total of 90 CSL learners participated in the first phase of the study by filling in a written questionnaire, which included questions about lexical inferencing and use of inference strategy in two types of reading (the sentence-level reading and the passage-level reading), a Chinese morphological awareness test and background information. In the second phase of the study, 29 learners who had participated in Phase 1 were interviewed individually as a follow-up to further understand their lexical inferencing and use of inference strategy.
The results showed that compared with context strength, the semantic transparency of words played a more important role in CSL learners' incidental vocabulary learning, including both the accuracy of lexical inferencing and the inference strategy used. The context strategy, the word strategy, and the guessing strategy were the three main strategies applied by all learners most frequently in lexical inferencing. There was no significant difference in the accuracy of lexical inferencing between learners with and those without a Chinese character background in their L1s (i.e., Japanese/Korean students and non-Japanese/Korean students). However, Japanese/Korean students did apply the L1 strategy and the guessing strategy significantly more often than non-Japanese/Korean students. When inferring the meaning of an unknown word, Japanese students were more likely to think about the Japanese meanings of the composing characters in that word, and Korean students were more likely to conduct inferencing based on the Korean pronunciation of the word. The results of the study also indicated that both receptive and productive Chinese morphological awareness made positive contributions to incidental vocabulary learning. Learners with high Chinese morphological awareness applied the context strategy and other strategies significantly more often than those with low awareness. In order to provide more practical suggestions to language educators, a supplementary study was conducted to investigate CSL instructors' teaching methods for lexical inferencing. A total of 15 students who participated in both phases of the study and six CSL instructors were involved in the supplementary study. Based on the results of the main study and the supplementary study, the researcher emphasized the need for developing appropriate reading materials for CSL learners at different levels and the importance of cultivating learners' skills of lexical inferencing as the pedagogical implications of the findings.

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