A co-authored research article by Dr. Pengchong (Anthony) Zhang (Lecturer of Second Language Learning) and Prof. Suzanne Graham (Professor of Language and Education) has recently been published in Language Learning.
The article, titled ‘Learning vocabulary through listening: The role of vocabulary knowledge and listening proficiency’, reports findings of Dr. Zhang’s doctoral study which set out to explore how learners’ pre-existing vocabulary knowledge (PVK) and listening proficiency affected how much vocabulary they learnt from listening to passages in English, when they were followed by different types of vocabulary explanations from their teacher: no explanation; explanations in the second language (L2); codeswitched explanations (using learners’ first language [L1] or mother tongue); and contrastive focus‐on‐form (CFoF) explanations, where the teacher compared how the word functions in the L1 and L2.
Through a six-week classroom intervention involving 137 Chinese higher school English as a foreign language learners, the study finds that the CFoF approach, which draws learners’ attention to key aspects of the new vocabulary and how it relates to the L1, seems the most “balanced” approach regardless of learners’ levels of PVK and listening proficiency. In addition, improving learners’ listening proficiency (e.g., helping them to segment words from the input or draw inferences) may help them learn vocabulary from spoken language. Finally, using listening passages that offer some but not too much challenge may prompt learners to use listening strategies that might help their vocabulary learning.