On the Effect of Task-Complexity-Based Instruction of Incidental Vocabulary on Iranian Academic Learners’ Vocabulary Learning

Parviz Alavinia, Alireza Bonyadi Bonyadi, Fariborz Malehmir Chegini


Though extensive work has been appropriated to probing different perspectives of task-based instruction and its usefulness in pedagogy, it still seems that meager heed has been given to the implications of task complexity for the acquisition and retention of vocabulary, among other language components. In an attempt to bridge this ostensible gap, the researchers in the present study strived to find the would-be effects of task-complexity-based incidental vocabulary instruction on learners’ vocabulary learning. The study was conducted with sixty Iranian academic learners, and the instruments used were Nelson Test and English Vocabulary in Use Elementary Level Test. Based on the findings gained through running t-test analysis, experimental group participants were found to have made a significant improvement apropos vocabulary performance as a result of treatment via task-complexity-based instruction.



Incidental vocabulary, Iranian academic non-EFL learners, task complexity, task-complexity-based instruction

Full Text:



Ahmad, J. (2011). Intentional vs. incidental vocabulary learning. Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research in Business, 3 (5), 67-75.

Behbahani, S. M. K., Pourdana, N., Maleki, M., & Javanbakht, Z. (2011). EFL task-induced involvement and incidental vocabulary learning: succeeded or surrounded? International Conference on Languages, Literature and Linguistics. IPEDR Proceedings, 26, 323-325.

Breen, M. P. (1987). Contemporary paradigms in syllabus design. Language Teaching, 20 (3), 157-174.http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S026144480000450X

Büyükkarci, K. (2009). A critical analysis of task-based learning. Kastamonu Education Journal, 17 (1), 313-320.

Bygate, M. (1996). Effects of task repetition: Appraising the developing language of learners. In J. Willis & D. Willis (eds). Challenge and change in language teaching. (pp. 136-46). London: Heinemann.

Bygate, M. (2001). Effects of task repetition on the structure and control of oral language. In M. Bygate, P. Skehan, & M. Swain (eds). Task-based learning: language teaching, learning and assessment. (pp.23-48). London: Longman.

Cobb, T. (1997). Is there any measurable learning from hands-on concordancing? System, 25, 301-15. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0346-251X(97)00024-9

Cobb, T. & Horst, M. (2001). Reading academic English: carrying learners across the lexical threshold. In J. Flowerdew & M. Peacock (eds), The English for academic purposes curriculum. (pp. 315-29). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Crookes, G. (1986). Task classification: A cross-disciplinary review (Tech. Rep. No. 4). Honolulu: University of Hawaii at Manoa, Social Science Research Institute, Center for Second Language Classroom Research.

Ellis, R. (2003). Task-based language learning and teaching. Oxford: OUP.

Ellis, R. (2009). The differential effects of three types of task planning on the fluency, complexity, and accuracy in L2 oral production. Applied Linguistics, 30 (4), 474-509. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/applin/amp042

Eysenck, M.W. (1982). Incidental learning and orienting tasks. In C. Puff. (ed.). Handbook of research methods in human memory and cognition, (pp. 197-228). London: Academic Press.

Ghabanchi, Z., & Ayoubi, E. S. (2012). Incidental vocabulary learning and recall by intermediate foreign language students: The influence of marginal glosses, dictionary use, and summary writing. Journal of International Education Research, 8 (2), 85-96.

Grace, C. (1999). Personality type, tolerance of ambiguity, and vocabulary retention in CALL. CALICO Journal, 15, 19-45.

Guara´-Tavares, M. G. (2008). Pre-task planning, working memory capacity and L2 speech performance. Unpublished Doctoral Thesis, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil.

Haastrup, K. (1991). Lexical inferencing procedures or talking about words. Tübingen: Narr.

Holley, F, M. (1973). A study of vocabulary learning in context: the effect of new-word density in German reading materials. Foreign Language Annals, 6, 339-47. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1944-9720.1973.tb02613.x

Hulstijn, J. H. (1992). Retention of inferred and given word meanings: experiments in incidental vocabulary learning. In P. J. Arnaud & H. Bejoint (eds), Vocabulary and applied linguistics. (pp. 113-25). London: Macmillan.

Hulstijn, J. H. (1993). When do foreign language readers look up the meaning of unfamiliar words? The influence of task and learner variables. Modern Language Journal, 77, 139-147.http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.1993.tb01957.x

Hulstijn, J.H. (2001). International and incidental second language vocabulary learning: A reappraisal of elaboration, rehearsal and automaticity. In P. Robinson (Ed.), Cognition and second language instruction. (pp. 258-286). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hulstijn, J. H., Hollander, M. & Greidanus, T. (1996). Incidental vocabulary learning by advanced foreign language students: The influence of marginal glosses, dictionary use and reoccurrence of unknown words. Modern Language Journal, 80, 327-339. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.1996.tb01614.x

Javanbakht, Z. O. (2011). The impact of tasks on male Iranian elementary EFL learners' incidental vocabulary learning. Language Education in Asia, 2 (1), 28-42.

Jing, L., & Jianbin, H. (2009). An empirical study of the involvement load hypothesis in incidental vocabulary acquisition in EFL listening. Polyglossia, 16, 1-11.

Knight, S. (1994). Dictionary use while reading: The effect on comprehension and vocabulary acquisition for students of different verbal abilities. Modern Language Journal, 78, 285-299.http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.1994.tb02043.x

Krantz, G. (1990). Learning vocabulary in a foreign language: A study of reading strategies. Göteborg: Acta Universitatis Gothoborgensis.

Lertola, J. (2012). The effect of the subtitling task on vocabulary learning, In A. Pym & D. Orrego-Carmona (Eds.) Translation Research Project 4, Tarragona: Intercultural Studies Group, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, 61-70.

Lijuan, Q. (2010). An empirical study of meaning negotiation from the perspective of task characteristics – task difficulty and task complexity. Chinese Journal of Applied Linguistics, 33 (4), 45-63.

Long, M. H. (1985). A role for instruction in second language acquisition. Task-based language teaching. In K. Hyltenstam & M. Pienemann (eds). Modelling and assessing second language acquisition. (pp. 77-99). Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.

Long, M. H., & Crookes, G. (1992). Three approaches to task-based syllabus design. TESOL Quarterly, 26 (1), 27-56. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3587368

Mahdavy, B. (2011). The role of topic familiarity and rhetorical organization of texts in L2 incidental vocabulary acquisition. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 29, 208-217.

McCarthy, M. & O'Dell, F. (2010). English vocabulary in use (elementary). Cambridge: CUP.

Nation, I.S.P. (2001). Learning vocabulary in another language. Cambridge: C.U.P.

Neyadi, O. S. (2007). The effects of using games to reinforce vocabulary learning. In K. Gallagher & K. Bashir-Ali (eds.). Action research and initial teacher education in the UAE (pp. 99-107). UAE: HCT Press.

Parreren, C.F. van & Schouten-van Parreren, M.C. (1981). Contextual guessing: a trainable reader strategy. System, 9 (3), 235-241. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0346-251X(81)90046-4

Prabhu, N. (1987). Second language pedagogy: a perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rahimpour, M. (2007). Task complexity and variation in L2 learners’ oral discourse. The University of Queensland Working Papers in Linguistics, 1, 1-9.

Richards, J., & Rodgers, T. (2001). Approaches and methods in language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511667305

Robinson, P. (2001). Task complexity, task difficulty, and task production: Exploring interactions in a componential framework. Applied Linguistics, 1, 27-57. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/applin/22.1.27

Roby, Warren B. (1999). What’s in a gloss? Language Learning & Technology, 2 (2), 94-101.

Rott, S. (1999). The effect of exposure frequency on intermediate language learners’ incidental vocabulary acquisition and retention through reading. Studies in second language acquisition, 21, 589-619.http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0272263199004039

Ruso, N. (2007). The influence of task based learning on EFL classrooms. Asian EFL Journal, 18. Retrieved from http://www.asian-efl-journal.com/pta_February_2007_nr.php

Sánchez, A. (2004). The task-based approach in language teaching. International Journal of English Studies, 4 (1), 39-71.

Sangarun, J. (2005). The effects of focusing on meaning and form in strategic planning. In R. Ellis (ed.). Planning and task performance in a second language. John Benjamins.

Swanborn, M. S. L. & de Glopper K. (2002). Impact of reading purpose on incidental word learning from context. Language Learning, 52, 95- 117. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9922.00178

Wu, L. (2009). Incidental English vocabulary studying in L2 learning. Unpublished MA Thesis. Kristianstad University College: The School of Teacher Education.

Yuan, F., & Ellis, R. (2003). The effects of pre-task and on-line planning on fluency, complexity and accuracy in L2 monologic oral production. Applied Linguistics, 24 (1), 1–27. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/applin/24.1.1

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/ijalel.v.1n.6p.26


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2020 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.