The effectiveness of technology-enhanced language learning for lexical competence in speaking: The case of English as a foreign language (EFL) learners in Vietnam.
Research has shown that there is a strong relationship between vocabulary knowledge and language proficiency (Staehr, 2008). Most research so far has focused on vocabulary and written skills and reading in particular. Only recently, vocabulary research has shifted its attention to listening (Staehr, 2009; Van Zeeland & Schmitt, 2013). However, there are hardly any studies on vocabulary acquisition and speaking. Therefore, this project aims at investigating how learners‟ lexical competence in speaking tasks can be fostered by conducting three empirical studies, each focusing at a new technique.
In Vietnam, English has been included in the national curriculum for a long time. However, the training objective seems to be limited to developing learners‟ receptive vocabulary size, to understanding reading texts and to doing traditional exercises. Developing learners‟ lexical competence has only recently been added as one of the important objectives in new English textbooks for primary, secondary and upper secondary students in Vietnam. However, research has found that obstacles such as large-size classes, a lack of authentic materials, traditional form-focused instruction tend to hamper teachers and learners in achieving this goal (Tran, 2013). At tertiary level, the situation seems to be even worse, as no official reform in English teaching and learning has been launched so far. Recently, findings have shown that the English speaking skills of the majority of Vietnamese university students and graduates are quite disappointing. Many of them were found to be unable to communicate a simple English utterance (Tran, 2006; Tran, 2013). Therefore, developing basic speaking skills has become one of the priorities of the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), which is reflected in the 10-year National Plan of English Teaching and Learning, with the third phase (2016-2020) for tertiary students (The Government).
Given the scarcity of research into vocabulary and speaking and the urgent need to study and implement instructional methods and interventions that have the potential to improve Vietnamese EFL learners‟ lexical competence and speaking proficiency, this dissertation aims to investigate three techniques that might foster learners‟ lexical competence in speaking tasks: (1) technology-enhanced language learning, (2) repetition and (3) corrective feedback on three aspects of speaking proficiency, viz. lexical accuracy, complexity and fluency.