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Why Vocabulary Still Matters: L2 Lexical Development and Learner Autonomy as Mediated Through an ICALL Tool, Langbot

, University of California, Davis, United States

Doctor of Philosophy, University of California, Davis . Awarded


In recent years, lexical acquisition has taken a more prominent role in the field of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) by clarifying the "learning burden" (Nation, 2001) or the effort that learners face for learning the infinite number of words in the L2 that often have special socially and culturally constructed meanings. For the L2 learner, learning new words can be an overwhelming experience and instructors don't often know how to effectively teach vocabulary. Fortunately, Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) has made advances in providing interactive online tools that help learners engage and work through their L2 development. This study reports on how an Intelligent CALL tool (ICALL), Langbot, helps learners at the intermediate-low, intermediate-high, and beginner levels with their lexical acquisition. Modeled after instant messaging systems, which create a synchronous communicative environment, Langbot acts like a pedagogical scaffold or online buddy that caters to the lexical needs of each individual learner. It provides (1) translation requests with examples in context, (2) a frequency-based "word of the day" and (3) quizzes based on recent inquiries and a specific frequency range according to the learner's level.

The results from breadth and depth tests (N=142), suggest that learners at all levels that have access to Langbot significantly improve their vocabulary breadth, while only intermediate-high learners with access to Langbot improve their vocabulary depth. None of the groups that did not have access to Langbot significantly improved their vocabulary breadth or depth. Furthermore, the survey data highlight learner assumptions and expectations having to do with vocabulary learning in general, as well as demonstrate Langbot's effectiveness and accessibility. Lastly, qualitative learner autonomy data, gathered from a focus group, open-ended survey, collaborative blog and interviews, further suggest that ICALL tools have the potential to help learners become more autonomous.


Arispe, K. Why Vocabulary Still Matters: L2 Lexical Development and Learner Autonomy as Mediated Through an ICALL Tool, Langbot. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, University of California, Davis. Retrieved February 23, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 22, 2013. [Original Record]

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