The Comparative Effects of L1 Equivalent versus Contextualized Vocabulary Instruction: EFL Learners’ Vocabulary Retention in Focus


  • Hamed Barjesteh Islamic Azad University, Amol, Iran
  • Salimeh Alinia Omran Islamic Azad University, Amol, Iran



Vocabulary, First Language, Contextualized Vocabulary Learning, Vocabulary Retention


This study sought to compare the effectiveness of learning words in context versus translation on vocabulary retention of forty-five EFL learners. They were divided into three groups as two experimental and one control group. The experimental groups used L1 equivalent and contextualized vocabulary instruction. The first experimental group received Persian translation of the predetermine word, and the second experimental group received 60 sentences in which they need to fill the gap by target words. As a note of caution, the words considered to be the most frequent vocabularies extracted from reading passages of the students' textbooks.  Before the intervention, a pre-test of vocabulary was conducted to check the students’ knowledge of vocabulary. The data were collected during a period of seven weeks by a post test and a delayed test. The findings revealed that using L1 equivalents could not improve EFL learners' vocabulary retention; however, incorporating contextualized vocabulary instruction promote EFL learners' vocabulary retention. The findings may help EFL teachers and material developers note that vocabulary learning does not happen in isolation. This study suggests that EFL students should take the advantage of contextualized vocabulary instruction for retention of new words.


Download data is not yet available.


Allen. F. A. (1983). Techniques in teaching vocabulary. New York: Oxford University Press.

Alroe, M., & Reinders, H. (2015). The role of translation in vocabulary acquisition: a replication study. The
Eurasian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 1(1), 39-58.

Amirian, S., & Momeni, S. (2012). Definition-based versus contextualized vocabulary learning. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 2 (11), 2302-2307.

Barcroft, J. (2004). Second language vocabulary acquisition: A lexical input processing approach. Foreign Language Annals, 37(2), 200-208.

Cameron, L. (2001). Teaching Languages to Young Learners. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Carroll, D.W. (1994). Psychology of language. Pacific Grove: California. Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.

Cook, V. J. (2003). Effects of the Second Language on the First. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Ellis, N. (1994). Vocabulary acquisition: the implicit ins and outs of explicit cognitive mediation. In N. C. Ellis (ed). Implicit and Explicit Learning of Languages, 211 – 282.

Ellis, R. (1990). Instructed second language acquisition. London: Blackwell.

Gingsburg, H., & McCoy, I. (1981). An empirical rationale for foreign language in elementary schools. Modern Language Journal, 65, 36-42.

Greggio, S., & Gil, G. (2007). Teacher’s and learner’s use of code-switching in the English as a foreign language classroom: a qualitative study. Linguagem and Ensino,10 (2) 371-393.

Hayati, M., & Shahriari, A. (2010). The impact of L1 equivalents versus context on vocabulary recall of pre-university EFL students. The Journal of Teaching Language Skills, 2(3), 27-51.

Harley, B. (1995). Introduction: the lexicon in second language research. In Harley, B. (Ed.), lexical issues in language learning (pp. 1-28). Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Hummel, K. M. (2010). Translation and short-term L2 vocabulary retention: Hindrance or help? Language Teaching Research, 14(1), 61–74.

Jiang, N. (2002). Form–meaning mapping in vocabulary acquisition in a second language. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 24(4): 617-637. http:// S0272263102004047

Joe, A. (1995). Text-based tasks and incidental vocabulary learning. Second language Research, , 11(2), 149-158.
Johnson Laird, P. N., Herrmann, D. J. & Chaffin, R. (1984). Only connections: A critique of semantic networks. Psychological Bulletin, 96, 292-315.

Karimian, Z., & Talebinejad, M. R. (2013). Students’ use of translation as a learning strategy in an EFL classroom. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 4(3). 605-610.

Khansir, A. A., & Tabande, Y. (2014). The effects of Persian language on vocabulary learning of Iranian EFL students. International Journal of Language Learning and Applied Linguistics World, 6(3), 62-75.

Krashen, S. D. (1987). Principles and practice in second language acquisition. London: Prentice Hall International.

Laufer, B. (2005). Focus on form in second language vocabulary learning. In S.H. Foster-Cohen, M. Garcia-Mayo and J. Cenoz (Eds.), Eurosla yearbook volume 5 (pp. 223-250). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. http://dx.doi. org/10.1075/eurosla.5.11lau

Long, M. (1988). Instructed interlanguage development. In L. M. Beeble (Ed.). Issues in Second Language Development. New York: Newbury House.

Liu, J. (2009). L1 Use in L2 Vocabulary Learning: Facilitator or Barrier. International Education Studies, 1: 65-69.

Mehrpour, S. (2008). A comparison of the effects of two vocabulary teaching techniques. Asian EFL Journal, 10 (2), 1-20.

Mezynski, K. (1983). Issues concerning the acquisition of knowledge: Effects of vocabulary building on reading comprehension. Review of Educational Research, 53(2), 253-279.

Mizumoto, A. & Kansai, O. T. (2009). Examining the effectiveness of explicit instruction of vocabulary learning strategies with Japanese EFL university students. Language Teaching Research 13(4) 425-449.

Nagy, W., & Herman, P. (1987). Breadth and depth of vocabulary knowledge: Implications for acquisition and instruction. In M. McKeown & M. Curtis (Eds.), the nature of vocabulary acquisition (pp. 19-35). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Nation, I. S. P. (1983). Testing and teaching vocabulary. Guidelines, 5, 12–25.

Nation, I. S. P. (1990). Teaching and learning vocabulary. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.

Nord, C. (1997). Translating as a purposeful activity. Functionalist approaches explained. Manchester: St. Jerome.

Oxford, R, & Scarcella, R (1994). Second Language vocabulary learning among adults: State Of the art in vocabulary instruction. System, 22(2), 231-243.

Paribakht, T. S. & Wesche, M. (1997). Vocabulary enhancement activities and reading for meaning in second language vocabulary acquisition. In Coady, J. & Huckin, T. (Eds.), Second language vocabulary acquisition, 174–200. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Pigada, M., & Schmitt, N. (2006). Vocabulary acquisition from extensive reading: A case study. Reading in a Foreign Language, 18, 1–28.

Prince, P. (1996). Second vocabulary learning: The role of context versus translations as a function of proficiency. Modern Language Journal. 80, 478-493.

Qian, D.D. (1996). ESL vocabulary acquisition: Contextualization and de-contextualization. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 53 (1), 120-142.

Rashtchi, M., & Rezvani, F. (2010). Vocabulary learning strategies: Do they help Iranian EFL learners to overcome vocabulary learning difficulties? Journal of English Studies, 1(1), 65-79.

Richards, J. C. (2011). Interchange series (4th edition). Cambridge: CUP.

Richards, J. C. & Renandya, W. (2002). Methodology in language teaching: an anthology of current practice. New York: Cambridge

Rodriguez, M. & Sadoski, M. (2000). Effects of rote, context, key word, and context/key word methods on retention of vocabulary in EFL classrooms. Language Learning, 50, 385-412.

Schmitt, N. (2008). Instructed Second Language Vocabulary Learning. Language Teaching Research, 12 (3): 329-363. http://dx.doi. org/10.1177/1362168808089921

Shangarfam, N. Ghorbani, N. Safarpoor E. & Maha, M. (2013). The comparative impact of lexical translation and lexical inferencing on EFL learners’ vocabulary retention. Management Science Letter, 3(12), 2889-2908.

Shen, H. H. (2010). Imagery and verbal coding approaches in Chinese vocabulary instruction. Language Teaching Research, 14(4), 485–499.

Webb, S. (2008). Receptive and productive vocabulary sizes of L2 learners. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 30, 79–95.

Wilkins, D. (1972). Linguistics in language teaching. Cambridge: CPU




How to Cite

Barjesteh, H., & Alinia Omran, S. (2019). The Comparative Effects of L1 Equivalent versus Contextualized Vocabulary Instruction: EFL Learners’ Vocabulary Retention in Focus. AJELP: Asian Journal of English Language and Pedagogy, 7(1), 38–49.