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«A Master’s Thesis by LKSEN BÜYÜKDURMUŞ SELÇUK Department of Teaching English as a Foreign Language Bilkent University Ankara July 2006 To my ...»

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GUESSING VOCABULARY FROM CONTEXT

IN READING TEXTS

A Master’s Thesis

by

LKSEN BÜYÜKDURMUŞ SELÇUK

Department of

Teaching English as a Foreign Language

Bilkent University

Ankara

July 2006

To my first and best teachers, my parents

my angel, Gültekin

my fairy, Füsun …

GUESSING VOCABULARY FROM CONTEXT

IN READING TEXTS

The Graduate School of Education of Bilkent University by

LKSEN BÜYÜKDURMUŞ SELÇUK

In Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of

MASTER OF ARTS

in

THE DEPARTMENT OF

TEACHING ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE

B LKENT UNIVERSITY

ANKARA

July 2006

B LKENT UNIVERSITY

GRADUATE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION

MA THESIS EXAMINATION RESULT FORM

July 31, 2006 The examining committee appointed by the Graduate School of Education for the thesis examination of the MA TEFL student lksen Büyükdurmuş Selçuk has read the thesis of the student.

The committee has decided that the thesis of the student is satisfactory.

Thesis title : Guessing Vocabulary from Context in Reading Texts Thesis Advisor : Assist. Prof. Dr. Johannes Eckerth Bilkent University, MA TEFL Program Committee Members : Dr. Bill Snyder Hanyang University, Hanyang-Oregon TESOL Assoc. Prof. Dr. Arif Altun Hacettepe University, Department of Computer Education and Instructional Technologies I certify that I have read this thesis and have found that it is fully adequate, in scope and in quality, as a thesis for the degree of Master of Teaching English as a Second Language.

Assist. Prof. Dr. Johannes Eckerth (Advisor) I certify that I have read this thesis and have found that it is fully adequate, in scope and in quality, as a thesis for the degree of Master of Teaching English as a Second Language.

Dr. Bill Snyder (Examining Committee Member) I certify that I have read this thesis and have found that it is fully adequate, in scope and in quality, as a thesis for the degree of Master of Teaching English as a Second Language.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Arif Altun (Examining Committee Member) Approval of the Graduate School of Education Prof. Dr. Margaret Sands (Director)

ABSTRACT

GUESSING VOCABULARY FROM CONT

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This study investigated contextual guessing strategies employed by preintermediate students at Hacettepe University, Department of Basic English, and the different strategies used by successful and unsuccessful guessers when dealing with unknown vocabulary. Data were collected through an in-class reading task, thinkaloud protocols (TAPs) and retrospective interviews (RIs).

The in-class reading task was administered to select three successful and three unsuccessful guessers. TAPs and RIs were conducted with the selected guessers to gather data on their strategy use. Transcribed TAPs and RIs were coded, and a contextual guessing strategies taxonomy was constructed. Frequencies and percentages for each strategy in the taxonomy and percentages for the participants’ guessing success in the in-class and TAP reading tasks were calculated.

Findings of the study indicated that various strategies were employed to guess word meanings, and although both successful and unsuccessful guessers employed

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successful guessers’ arriving at more correct guesses provided evidence that they were more effective users of lexical inferencing strategies. Another finding illustrated that context and knowledge of the native language were the major sources for word guessing.

Key words: Guessing vocabulary from context, lexical inferencing strategies, successful and unsuccessful guessers, think-aloud protocols, retrospective interviews.

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Bu çalışmada, Hacettepe Üniversitesi, ngilizce Hazırlık Birimindeki orta düzey öğrencilerin kullandıkları bağlamdan tahmin stratejileri ve başarılı ve başarısız tahmincilerin bilinmeyen kelimelerle başa çıkmak için kullandıkları farklı stratejiler araştırılmıştır.Veri toplamak için, bir sınıf içi okuma çalışması, seslidüşünme protokolleri ve geçmişe dayalı mülakatlar kullanılmıştır.

Sınıf içi okuma çalışması, üç başarılı ve üç başarısız tahminci seçmek için uygulandı. Sesli-düşünme protokolleri ve geçmişe dayalı mülakatlar, seçilen tahmincilerle, onların strateji kullanımları hakkında veri toplamak amacıyla yürütüldü. Yazıya dökülen sesli-düşünme protokolleri ve geçmişe dayalı mülakatlar kodlandı ve bağlamdan tahmin stratejileri sınıflandırma tablosu yapıldı. Bu sınıflandırma tablosundaki her bir strateji için frekanslar ve yüzdeler ile katılımcıların sınıf içi ve sesli-düşünme protokolü okuma çalışmalarındaki tahmin başarı yüzdeleri hesaplandı.





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için çeşitli stratejiler kullanıldığını, ve başarılı ve başarısız tahmincilerin aynı stratejileri kullanmalarına rağmen, başarılı tahmincilerin stratejileri daha seyrek uyguladıklarını göstermiştir. Bununla birlikte, başarılı tahmincilerin daha çok doğru tahmin yapmaları, onların daha etkin sözcük tahmin stratejileri kullanıcıları olduğunu ispatlamaktadır. Bir başka bulgu, bağlamın ve anadil bilgisinin kelime tahmin etmede ana kaynaklar olduğunu göstermiştir.

Anahtar kelimeler: Kelimeleri bağlamdan tahmin etme, sözcük tahmin etme stratejileri, başarılı ve başarısız tahminciler, sesli-düşünme protokolleri, geçmişe dayalı mülakatlar.

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I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my thesis advisor, Dr.

Johannes Eckerth, for his invaluable suggestions, deep interest, continuous support and motivating attitude throughout the study. I would also like to thank Dr. Charlotte Basham, Lynn Basham, Dr. Theodore S. Rodgers, Dr. Bill Snyder, and Dr. Arif Altun for their supportive assistance and useful comments throughout my studies.

I am gratefully indebted to Prof. Dr. Sibel Bozbeyoğlu, Head of the School of Foreign Languages, Hacettepe University and Prof. Dr. Güray König, former Head of the School of Foreign Languages, Hacettepe University, for they gave me permission to attend the MA TEFL program.

I owe special thanks to my dear colleagues Melike Güral and Melda Atalık Çalışkan, who let their students participate in my study and Derya Korkmaz, who gave me the inspiration to decide on the topic of this thesis. Thanks are also to the participants of the study, for their willingness to help me with my research.

I am deeply indebted to my cousin Füsun Aykut Ersoy, who stayed away from her home and her family for a long time, to help me with all the chores of life and with my computer problems. She provided everything I needed without any complaints. I am grateful to her love, caring, patience, and encouragement. Without her, I would not have completed this thesis successfully.

I would like to say a big thank you to my MA TEFL friends Burcu Öztürk, Funda Abalı, and Gülay Koç for their real friendship. They became my left foot

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understanding during my worst days.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to my primary school teacher Hatice Baykallı, who has always had faith in me. She discovered my abilities at a very early age and taught me how to improve myself. She filled me with the love of learning.

It is a pleasure to thank my cousin Fulya Aykut Ersoy and my aunt Nuriye Aykut Ersoy for always “being there” for me.

Special thanks go to my dear husband Gültekin Agah Selçuk for his understanding, love, and patience throughout this year. When I was on crutches, he drove me to school and carried me on his back; when I was in tears, he gave me a big hug; when I was hopeless, he was my hope. Thanks to him for always standing by me.

Lastly, but most importantly, I owe special thanks to my parents Nursen Büyükdurmuş and lker Büyükdurmuş for their never-ending love, caring and support. Their belief in me brought me where I am. Without them, I would have been lost.

Above all, thanks to GOD, who gave me the strength to finish this thesis and the people mentioned above.

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LIST OF TABLES…………………………………………………………….. xiii LIST OF FIGURES……………………………………………………………. xiv

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Definition and the Characteristics of the Reading Process ……. 8 Reading and Learning Strategies…….…………………............. 9 Definition of Learning Strategies……………………….. 10 Classification of Learning Strategies………….........…… 11 Definition of Reading Strategies………………………... 14 Classification of Reading Strategies……………………. 15

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Guessing Word Meanings from Context in Reading Texts……. 19 Definition of Inferencing……………………………………….. 21 The Importance of Context……………………………………... 22

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The Strategy of Guessing from Context………………………... 25 Classification of Contextual Guessing Strategies………. 26

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Conclusion….…………………………………………………… 35 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY……………………………………………... 36

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Procedures………………………………………………………. 42 Piloting the Reading Tasks and TAPs………………....... 42 Administration of the In-class Reading Task…………… 46

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Conclusion……………………………………………………… 54 CHAPTER 4 DATA ANALYSIS…………………………………………….. 56

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REFERENCES…………………………………………………………………. 99 APPENDICES…………………………………………………………………. 105

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D: Training Session Talk (English Version)…………………… 115 E: Training Session Talk (Turkish Version)……………………. 116 F: The Coding Scheme for the Contextual Guessing Strategies

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H: Sample Coded Think-Aloud Protocol 1…………………….. 119 I: Sample Coded Think-Aloud Protocol 1 (Translated Version).. 125 J: Sample Coded Think-Aloud Protocol 2……………………… 131 K: Sample Coded Think-Aloud Protocol 2 (Translated Version).. 139 L: Sample Coded Retrospective Interview 1…………………… 147 M: Sample Coded Retrospective Interview 1 (Translated Version) 150 N: Sample Coded Retrospective Interview 2…………………… 153 O: Sample Coded Retrospective Interview 2 (Translated Version) 159

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1 The Contextual Guessing Strategy Types in the Taxonomy and Their Definitions………………………… 63 2 Example TAP and RI Extracts for Each Strategy in the Taxonomy………………………………………. 65 3 Two Samples Presenting the Analyses of the TAPs and RIs…………………………………………….. 69 4 Guessing Scores of the Participants in the In-class Reading Task…………………………………………… 71 5 Guessing Success of the 6 Participants in the In-class Reading Task……………………………………….. 73 6 Contextual Guessing Strategy Use of the the Participants during the TAPs and RIs……………………….. 75 7 Guessing Scores of the Participants in the In-class and TAP Reading Tasks……………………………….. 79 8 Guessing Success of the Participants in the TAP Reading Task……………………………………………… 81

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1 Taxonomy of Knowledge Sources……………………………… 27 2 Taxonomy of Knowledge Sources Used in L2 Lexical Inferencing…………………………………. 29 3 Knowledge Sources Employed in L2 Lexical Inferencing…………………………………………. 30 4 Strategies Employed in L2 Lexical Inferencing………………… 31

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Reading in a foreign language has been one of the main concerns of researchers in recent years. It is one important issue to be considered in English Language Teaching because students who are in a second language academic environment need to develop the reading skill to obtain academic information.

Research has shown that for reading comprehension, readers make use of their vocabulary knowledge, and the largest obstacle for second language readers to overcome is the lack of vocabulary knowledge (Huckin & Bloch, 1993). One way to help learners with the unfamiliar words they encounter in a reading text is to train them to use contextual clues for inferring the meaning of these words instead of depending heavily on dictionaries. Thus, guessing from context is considered a subskill of reading (Nation, 2001).

Since reading and vocabulary development have important roles in second language learning, many studies have been conducted on different aspects of reading and vocabulary. This study aims to contribute to the literature by analyzing the role of linguistic context in word guessing in reading texts. The purpose of this study is to explore the use of cognitive reading strategies in guessing from context as reported by the students at Hacettepe University, in the Department of Basic English. The study also attempts to identify the different strategies used by successful and unsuccessful guessers.

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