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The effects of semantic and thematic categorization on Arabic-speaking EFL learners




AlShaikhi, Adel Z., author
Flahive, Douglas, advisor
Ehlers-Zavala, Fabiola, committee member
Hirchi, Mohammed, committee member

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The present study aims at investigating the most effective method of clustering vocabulary in the presentation of vocabulary to learners. It investigated three types of clustering, semantically-related sets, semantically-unrelated sets, and thematically related sets and their effectiveness in helping Arabic-speaking learners recall and acquire new vocabulary. The study employed three lists of vocabulary according to their clustering type and immediate and delayed L2-L1 translation recall tests. In each list, 15 new English words along with their equivalents in Arabic were chosen to represent; a) semantically-related words, b) semantically-unrelated words, c) thematically related words. Recall test by giving the equivalent of the English word in Arabic which the immediate test is given right after the learners had studied the words and a week-late delayed test was given as well. 58 adult male Arabic-speaking students involved in advanced level of the English intensive program of a Saudi leading higher education institution participated in the study. The subjects were divided into three groups in which each group studied one type of clustering. A one-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) statistical test was employed to analyze the data. The results showed that in the immediate test there was no significant difference among the three types of clustering on recalling new words. For the delayed test, the results showed a significant difference in favor of semantically-related and semantically-unrelated over the thematic clustering.


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