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Good Text in, Good Text out: The Impact of Extensive Reading on Lexical Complexity in Second Language Writing

  • Modern English Education
  • Abbr : MEESO
  • 2020, 21(2), pp.14-23
  • DOI : 10.18095/meeso.2020.21.2.14
  • Publisher : The Modern English Education Society
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Language Teaching
  • Received : March 8, 2020
  • Accepted : May 11, 2020
  • Published : May 31, 2020

DENNIS MURPHY ODO 1

1부산대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Extensive reading (ER) is widely agreed to improve L2 learners’ vocabulary and writing, but the precise effects that ER has on particular characteristics of L2 vocabulary used in L2 writing remain unclear. To address this issue, university level Korean EFL learners in an L2 essay writing class engaged in extensive reading over a semester and wrote argumentative essays about a topic of their choosing. These essays were analyzed for two key indicators of lexical complexity (i.e., lexical density and number of different words) using a computerized text analysis tool. Analysis results generally affirmed previous studies’ conclusions that ER has a positive influence on L2 writing adding that the more words learners read, the greater variety of words they used in their essays. Likewise, in accord with other research showing gains in English word recognition and recall, learners’ perceptions about the difficulty of their ER materials had an effect on the lexical density of their written essays thus providing additional evidence that ER impacts L2 vocabulary use in essay writing. Somewhat unexpectedly, learners’ perceived enjoyment had no effect on either lexical complexity variable which indicates that, contrary to some claims, selecting reading material based on its entertainment value may not actually lead to vocabulary development in L2 writing.

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