An investigation of incidental vocabulary learning using English online consumer electronics review with undergraduates of Computer Science (EdD TESOL)

  • Chun-Huei Chuo

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Teaching English vocabulary explicitly is a popular method employed in language classrooms in Taiwan (Chou, 2011). Schmitt (2008) argues that both explicit and incidental learning are necessary for second language vocabulary acquisition and should be seen as complementary. It is generally considered that extensive reading may promote incidental vocabulary learning (Schmitt, 2010). The present study seeks to design an English reading course for Taiwanese undergraduates using online consumer electronics reviews as authentic materials so as to provide opportunities for incidental vocabulary learning to occur. The study was divided into three stages. In Stage One, a corpus-based study was undertaken to create and analyze a corpus of online consumer electronics reviews in order to establish a wordlist, which was used as target words of a vocabulary test in the next stage. In Stage Two, a 12-week classroom investigation was carried out through mixed methods in action research. Action research can monitor learners’ learning situation through spirals of ‘planning, acting, observation, reflection’ (Costello, 2003) and refine the practice to ensure that students are involved in reading. Only when learners are actually involved in reading can incidental vocabulary learning be investigated. A quasi-experimental design was conducted to evaluate students’ incidental vocabulary gains. Students’ perceptions and experiences of being involved in the investigation of incidental vocabulary learning were examined through action research cycle and follow-up focus group interviews in Stage Three. From the quantitative data, the results indicated that the students could learn vocabulary incidentally through online extensive reading. The data also allowed for the assessment of partial word knowledge, which presented the incremental nature of incidental vocabulary learning. The qualitative data revealed a number of main themes in relation to students’ experiences and perceptions of online extensive reading and incidental vocabulary learning. The students also reported strategies they used for dealing with unknown words while reading. The study has presented an alternative approach for English vocabulary instruction to enhance both students’ vocabulary learning and reading motivation.
Date of AwardJul 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorAisling O'Boyle (Supervisor) & Pamela Cowan (Supervisor)

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