Vocabulary Acquisition and Lexical Training by Semantic and Thematic Sets in Persian Learners of English

Mahnaz Allahverdizadeh, Nematullah Shomoossi, Farzad Salahshoor, Zohreh Seifoori


In the present study, the effects of presenting new L2 vocabulary in semantic and thematic sets on vocabulary learning of Persian learners of English were investigated. There were 80 participants: 40 elementary and 40 intermediate levels. Four types of vocabulary sets (i.e., semantically related sets, semantically unrelated sets, thematically associated sets and thematically unassociated sets) were presented through reading passages. For each set, two passages were selected including six words in each reading passage. Consequently, there were eight reading passages with 48 new words at each level, which were presented to the participants to learn. The participants at each level took a placement test, a proficiency test, a pretest and a posttest. The statistical analyses showed that participants recalled more words from the thematic sets, while the semantic sets were the least to recall at each level. These differences were more apparent at the elementary level than in the intermediate. Also, participants recalled more words from semantically unrelated sets than from the thematically unassociated ones. Therefore, a scaled pattern of recalling may appear as: thematically associated sets, semantically unrelated sets, thematically unassociated sets and semantically related sets.


L2 reading comprehension, lexical sets, thematic association, semantic relation, lexical acquisition

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