Breadth and Depth of Vocabulary Knowledge : Factors Contributing to Reading Comprehension as Perceived by University Teachers
Elgadi, Awasha Bashir
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This study aims to explore the approaches used by English as a foreign language (EFL) university teachers teaching reading comprehension. It was carried out at the Department of English of Zawia Faculty of Education. There were two major aspects of vocabulary knowledge, breadth of vocabulary (the number of words known) and depth of vocabulary (how well one knows a word), which were correlated to each other and strongly predictive to reading comprehension. Relying on one dimension of vocabulary word breadth might cause problems at the depth level of vocabulary knowledge. Therefore, one of the challenges facing Libyan university teachers was to decide the most suitable dimension of vocabulary knowledge. Furthermore, this research emphasized reading comprehension teaching techniques at the academic level. To investigate this study, a mixed research method was applied through a questionnaire and an interview. The target sample was 49 EFL university teachers, holding similar university degree in different disciplines of the language. The questionnaire consisted of 19 MCQ items. A semi–structured interview was also conducted to collect data from 8 fourth semester reading comprehension teachers. The collected data was analysed quantitatively and qualitatively. The findings demonstrate that there is a strong relationship between reading comprehension and vocabulary knowledge. The results further reveal that both breadth and depth of vocabulary knowledge are strongly correlated and contributed to reading comprehension. The results also show that the combination of breadth and depth is highly beneficial to improve reading comprehension. Moreover, the findings demonstrate that teachers mostly depend on the breadth/size dimension of vocabulary knowledge. The meaning of the new words is generally inferred from the context. Employing a combination of breadth and depth of vocabulary knowledge by teachers, will be beneficial to deepen and broaden the horizon of learners' vocabulary repertoire and to furnish a great deal of substitute, associate and collocate words throughout a sound vocabulary knowledge teaching in reading comprehension lessons.