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Lexical inferencing strategies and topic familiarity: A multiple case study of Arabic EFL university students reading English texts

Lexical inferencing strategies and topic familiarity: A multiple case study of Arabic EFL university students reading English texts
Lexical inferencing strategies and topic familiarity: A multiple case study of Arabic EFL university students reading English texts
Inferencing the meanings of unfamiliar words from context is a vital coping strategy that allows learners to compensate for a lack of specific language knowledge to meet the language demands when reading and listening. This study offers insights into the lexical inferencing behaviour displayed by L1 Arabic (a Semitic language) EFL learners as they inferenced the meanings of unfamiliar words while reading culturally familiar (Eid Al-Fiter) and unfamiliar (Bonfire Nights) topics. The current study aimed at exploring and describing how learners representing 3 different English proficiency levels (C1-B2-B1) approached the TWs and the text itself. In addition, the range of knowledge source clues and lexical inferencing strategies these three groups displayed as they inferenced the unfamiliar words while reading these two texts are examined.
An interpretive embedded mixed method multiple case study approach was adopted in the current study. The study employed a number of research instruments; Oxford’s online proficiency test, a Vocabulary Levels Test, questionnaires (online and paper-based), semi-structured classroom observations, think-alouds, immediate stimulated recalls, semi-structured interviews and field notes. In addition, the reading materials and the choice of target words were developed by the researcher. Participants for the study were selected through stratified random sampling while data triangulation, thematic analysis and comparative methods have been applied to analyze the data.
The findings of the study stress the importance of readers’ topic familiarity of the text; learners activated more clues and strategies in the familiar topic compared to the unfamiliar one. In terms of proficiency levels, the three groups either displayed the same or different combinations of knowledge source clues and lexical inferencing strategies due to their proficiency levels across the texts. Furthermore, it was found that metacognitive awareness plays a vital role in learners' approaches to the reading texts, the target words, their strategic behaviour and incidental vocabulary learning. The results of the study have led to theoretical contributions to the field of applied linguistics and the proposal of a lexical inferencing model for the L1 Arabic EFL reader. In addition, a number of pedagogical implications have been suggested to guide and improve L1 Arabic EFL readers in their lexical inferencing processes while reading, such as, teaching inferencing strategies, enhancing metacognitive reading strategies, increasing L1 Arabic EFL readers’ vocabulary size.
University of Southampton
Al-Ahmadi, Nesreen Masoud
b2c8a746-ecd9-444d-9be0-5d8ddf22b208
Al-Ahmadi, Nesreen Masoud
b2c8a746-ecd9-444d-9be0-5d8ddf22b208
Rule, Sarah
81970997-971e-4613-adf5-69a6a627819c
Slabakova, Roumyana
1bda11ce-ce3d-4146-8ae3-4a486b6f5bde

Al-Ahmadi, Nesreen Masoud (2020) Lexical inferencing strategies and topic familiarity: A multiple case study of Arabic EFL university students reading English texts. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 444pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Inferencing the meanings of unfamiliar words from context is a vital coping strategy that allows learners to compensate for a lack of specific language knowledge to meet the language demands when reading and listening. This study offers insights into the lexical inferencing behaviour displayed by L1 Arabic (a Semitic language) EFL learners as they inferenced the meanings of unfamiliar words while reading culturally familiar (Eid Al-Fiter) and unfamiliar (Bonfire Nights) topics. The current study aimed at exploring and describing how learners representing 3 different English proficiency levels (C1-B2-B1) approached the TWs and the text itself. In addition, the range of knowledge source clues and lexical inferencing strategies these three groups displayed as they inferenced the unfamiliar words while reading these two texts are examined.
An interpretive embedded mixed method multiple case study approach was adopted in the current study. The study employed a number of research instruments; Oxford’s online proficiency test, a Vocabulary Levels Test, questionnaires (online and paper-based), semi-structured classroom observations, think-alouds, immediate stimulated recalls, semi-structured interviews and field notes. In addition, the reading materials and the choice of target words were developed by the researcher. Participants for the study were selected through stratified random sampling while data triangulation, thematic analysis and comparative methods have been applied to analyze the data.
The findings of the study stress the importance of readers’ topic familiarity of the text; learners activated more clues and strategies in the familiar topic compared to the unfamiliar one. In terms of proficiency levels, the three groups either displayed the same or different combinations of knowledge source clues and lexical inferencing strategies due to their proficiency levels across the texts. Furthermore, it was found that metacognitive awareness plays a vital role in learners' approaches to the reading texts, the target words, their strategic behaviour and incidental vocabulary learning. The results of the study have led to theoretical contributions to the field of applied linguistics and the proposal of a lexical inferencing model for the L1 Arabic EFL reader. In addition, a number of pedagogical implications have been suggested to guide and improve L1 Arabic EFL readers in their lexical inferencing processes while reading, such as, teaching inferencing strategies, enhancing metacognitive reading strategies, increasing L1 Arabic EFL readers’ vocabulary size.

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More information

Published date: November 2020

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 446891
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/446891
PURE UUID: f7b66fc4-e1aa-4017-a42f-33016f9b6d8e
ORCID for Roumyana Slabakova: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-5839-460X

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 25 Feb 2021 17:41
Last modified: 13 Dec 2021 03:12

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Contributors

Author: Nesreen Masoud Al-Ahmadi
Thesis advisor: Sarah Rule
Thesis advisor: Roumyana Slabakova ORCID iD

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