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Vocabulary knowledge has been considered as basic principles of learning English and it also has a determinant impact on EFL Witting skills.
Writing is one of the important ways to learn English language that involves students’ ideas into the written text. Vocabulary mastery is one of knowledge that important to learn writing, listening, reading, and speaking
A good writer has to know a set of vital items to enrich his writing such as grammar punctuation, capitalization rules; figurative language; rhyme; rhythm; and vocabulary. One item that can power up writing is a strong vocabulary.
Spoken and written words are used to communicate ideas, thoughts, and emotions and they are so common among EFL learners, sometimes communicating will be successful and sometimes it’s quite reverse.
To write an article, essay or even a composition which is written at school by students, good vocabulary is an essential object. Knowing synonyms and using strong vocabularies, give readers a good sense of meaning and information will make the writing more influential.
In Santos, 1988; Astika,1993 study(cited in Lee,2003) has shown that lack of vocabulary contributes to writing difficulty for foreign language learners and that vocabulary is one of the most important features that determine writing quality
The current article focused on the impact of vocabulary on writing in EFL learners.
Importance of Vocabulary in Writing
Vocabulary is defined as knowledge of words which is considered vital for language development and acquisition and is recognized as an essential factor in writing.
It can also describe as the ability to use words in the generation and understanding of sentences.
Beck, McCaslin, & McKeown, 1980 study(cited in Yonek,2008)There is a substantial body of evidence demonstrating a link between vocabularies and students’ ability to read and comprehend passages.
“Researchers have also explored the role of vocabulary in three main aspects of
students’ writing performance: (a) shaping teachers’ perceptions of writing quality;
(b) predicting students’ overall writing performance, and (c) enhancing the quality of
students’ written compositions”( Papadopoulou, 2007,p.35).
Papadopoulou,2007 said that “there is a positive relationship between mature vocabulary (assessed by lexical choice) and high quality ratings. Particularly, when Neilsen and Piche’ (1981) compared the effects of syntactic complexity versus lexical choice on the ratings of writing quality, they reported high quality ratings for passages with mature vocabulary regardless of the passages’ syntactic complexity”.
Similarly, according to Papadopoulou,2007 ” examined the role of vocabulary in formatting teachers’ judgments of college freshmen’s written arguments:.
“It was reported that the appropriateness of words used, rather than the simple production of words, was more important in influencing teachers’ judgments of writing quality. The number of diction or word-choice errors per 100 words written was found to be a particularly strong predictor of writing quality”. (Papadopoulou,2007,p.102)
“Vocabulary is also considered as a strong predictor of students’ overall writing performance when vocabulary scores are compared to more elaborated criterion measures of written expression such as the Test of Written Language (Towel;Hammill & Larsen, 1978), the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT; Madden, Gardner,Rudman, Karlsen, & Merwin, 1978), and the Developmental Sentence Scoring System (Lee & Canter, 1971).
Significant research has been conducted on the effects of vocabulary instruction on reading performance but studies investigating vocabulary instruction and writing are few (Duin & Graves, 1987). It also illustrates the effects of vocabulary instruction on the quality of students’ written products”. (Yonek,2008,p.68)
Despite the correlations between verbal ability and writing, the nature of the relationship between the two is less certain. A rich vocabulary allows writer to get a richness of thought onto paper. However, the writer’s real pleasure comes not from using an exotic word but from using the right word.
In other research, effective writing has also been shown to be reliant upon verbal working memory . Those students who have considerable difficulty in producing well written compositions suffer from underdeveloped oral proficiency levels.
According to Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1987 study,(cited in Lee,2003)Further research shows that verbal memory limitations impact both quantity and quality of writing .
In writing, using correct verbs, propositions and grammatical point is so important.
Vocabulary and writing: Finding the right words
In some ways, the ability to write effectively hinges upon having an adequate vocabulary even more than does the ability to read. Once students have learned to decode words, they may be able to read and pronounce many words that are unfamiliar to them. They may even be able to determine accurate meanings of unfamiliar words simply by examining the context in which those words are used.
During the writing process, however, a student does not have the luxury of examining the context in which a word is used; he or she is creating the context. Therefore, the writer must be able to spontaneously recall words that are known not only by sight, but that are understood well enough to use correctly.
Writing is dependent upon the ability to draw upon words to describe an event.
The breadth and depth of a student’s vocabulary will have a direct influence upon the descriptiveness, accuracy, and quality of his or her writing.
Yonek( 2008) notes, “variety in selecting words to convey accurate meanings is necessary in speaking and writing, the outgoes of the language arts and at any level, written communication is more effective when a depth of vocabulary and command of language is ” (p. 25-26).
Principles of vocabulary development
Since words are the writer’s most important tools, vocabulary development must be an important and ongoing part of classroom learning.
In Laflamme (1997) study( cited in yonek 2008) offers several key principles that should guide the creation and implementation of a comprehensive vocabulary development program.
1. Teachers must offer direct instruction of techniques or procedures for developing a broad and varied vocabulary. This instruction can be provided both formally through the language arts program, and informally through various classroom interactions-such as story time-with students.
2. New vocabulary terms must be connected to students’ previous knowledge and experiences. If students are unable to contextualize new words by attaching them to words and concepts they already understand, the words will likely have little meaning to them, and if meaning is lacking, the chances are pupils will memorize terms and concepts for testing purposes only or largely.
3. Students should be able to contextualize the vocabulary terms they have learned and use them in society. In order for students to do this successfully, they must first learn to become comfortable using these words in the classroom. Students should be required or encouraged to incorporate new vocabulary terms into their oral and written reports and presentations.
4. Practice and repetition are important methods by which students can become familiar with new words and under- stand how they may be used correctly .Students should be frequently exposed to the same words through practice exercises, classroom use, and testing.
5. Teachers should model an enthusiasm for and curiosity about new words through their own behaviors and attitudes. Teachers who are enthusiastic about vocabulary development will automatically look for “teachable moments” throughout the day, pointing out interesting words as they crop up in texts, stories, or conversation; asking students to explore alternative ways of expressing concepts; and helping identify colorful, descriptive ways of speaking and writing.
6. Schools, teachers, and students must be committed to vocabulary development over the long term. The teaching of vocabulary must be an interdisciplinary project, integrated into the curriculum at every level.
Effects of vocabulary Instruction on writing and using vocabulary to improve writing skills
Efforts to improve writing performance through vocabulary instruction have been limited making generalizations about the role of vocabulary instruction unwarranted.
However, a few studies examining the effects of vocabulary instruction on writing reveal some promising findings between the two.
While improved vocabulary can enhance students’ writing skills, there is no guarantee that it will do so automatically. Improvement in vocabulary will result in improved writing skills only if the teacher is able to create a classroom that takes writing seriously. In Corona, Spangenberger 1998 study (cited in lee 2003) in such a classroom, process and environment are closely intertwined and interdependent.
The process does not come alive unless the environment is conducive to it.
The following are techniques teachers can use to create a writing-centered classroom.
1. Sharing vocabulary-rich literature by reading books, poems, and stories that contain interesting vocabulary, teachers can both introduce new words and provide a forum for discussing them. It helps the students become better writers,
2. Helping students to look for interesting words. There are many different forms this can take. For example, students could pair up and look through books for words that catch their attention, then write down common words that the author could have used instead.
3. Offering a variety of writing opportunities. A writer-centered classroom emphasizes using written expression to communicate ideas. Writing is an important part of all areas of the curriculum. The authors go on to note that students have a greater investment in their writing when they are given choices about their assignments. Such choices may include journal or diary entries, weekly logs summarizing journal entries, book reports, outlines, poetry, autobiographies, short stories, or any number of variations on the above.
4. Providing sample time for students to fully experience the writing process . The teaching of writing should be approached as a process that must be studied in depth, and substantial blocks of time should be devoted to writing.
5. Allowing students to conference with teachers and fellow students. When writing topics are chosen, students should meet with their teacher to discuss ideas and answer questions. The teacher’s role is to encourage, build on existing strengths, and help the student expand his or her abilities. Conferencing with fellow students gives the budding writer the opportunity to share ideas, brainstorm, and rework his or her project.
Research (Henry, Scott& Wells, 1999;cited in Yonek 2008) has shown Teachers who are following principles relating to vocabulary development: valuing words is critical to student learning, wide reading and direct instruction are critical components to vocabulary learning, and modeling word consciousness with a focus on language use encouraged students to pay attention to words
In Scott 2004, study (cited in Lee 2003) research shows that having a large and sophisticated vocabulary helps a writer produce quality text by limiting the cognitive demands during a writing task. Though research connecting effective vocabulary instruction and writing is limited, some studies suggest that rich vocabulary instruction and developing word consciousness can positively influence writing.
Principles identified from the research relating to generalized effects in comprehension as a result of vocabulary instruction may serve as the basis for effective instructional methods designed to increase word knowledge to a degree that can affect writing.
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