Academia.edu no longer supports Internet Explorer.

To browse Academia.edu and the wider internet faster and more securely, please take a few seconds to  upgrade your browser .

Enter the email address you signed up with and we'll email you a reset link.

  • We're Hiring!
  • Help Center

paper cover thumbnail

A literature review of vocabulary learning through web based collaboration

Profile image of Martine Shelton

This paper a literature review of vocabulary learning through web based collaboration. It discusses learner independence, motivation and vocabulary learning, blogging and online interaction, the idea that weblog can enhances vocabulary and accuracy as well as the way in which the use of wiki and google docs can enhance vocabulary

Related Papers

Vu Tran-Thanh

literature review of vocabulary

The present research examined the use of Web 2.0 tools to improve students’ vocabulary knowledge at the School of Foreign Languages, Gaziantep University. Current studies in literature mostly deal with descriptions of students’ attitudes towards the reasons for the use of web-based platforms. However, integrating usual classroom environment with Web 2.0 tools for specific sub-skills has not been examined much. It is aimed to contribute by investigating the feasibility of those tools as a supplement for vocabulary learning. This is an experimental research supported with semi-structured interviews and field notes. A pre-test and a post-test were administered to an experimental and a control group, and results were analyzed with the independent samples t-test. Following the post-test, semistructured interviews were conducted with 18 students in the experimental group. The analyses of the test results demonstrated that both groups had gains but the mean of the experimental group was higher, and this difference was statistically significant. Findings suggest that almost all students have positive attitudes towards the educational use of Web 2.0 tools

Moslem Hosseinzade

Procedia Technology

Bahman Gorjian

Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric

Štěpánka Bilová

Vocabulary knowledge affects any learner’s general language proficiency and the lack of vocabulary is often seen as an obstacle in a student’s progress. This statement becomes even truer when considering languages for specific purposes as the knowledge of technical vocabulary is closely connected to mastering professional skills. The research on vocabulary learning distinguishes two types of learning, incidental and intentional, which should complement each other. One of the most efficient intentional strategies proved to be the use of flashcards. Modern technologies have contributed to further development of this rather popular method by offering new ways of vocabulary consolidation as well as novel forms of interaction. The main objective of the paper is to introduce a teaching methodology aimed at the intentional building of students’ vocabulary, however, at the same time making students being aware of a broader context in which a word or a collocation is used. The presented meth...

Aurelia Cucu

Vocabulary is one of the most important things in learning a language. It is the main key in communication and helps people express their ideas and feelings. That is why paying special attention to teaching vocabulary to our learners has constantly been one of my major concerns. Nevertheless, since the development of information and computer technology, teaching and learning activities have become far more varied for learners and more challenging for teachers. This book mainly aims to reinforce the idea that traditional practices of teaching/learning a foreign language, no longer represent the best approach to education. The gradual integration of modern ICT supported methods is recommended in teaching and learning activities, being considered a medium favouring a wide variety of approaches. The book contains a systematic presentation of the ICT tools classified into resource and tool websites, platforms, audio-video tools and graphic organizers which teachers can adopt in order to ...

World journal of educational research

ameen akeem

International Journal of Human Sciences

Dinçer Biçer

Levent Uzun , Behice Ceyda Cengiz

International Journal of Science and Management Studies (IJSMS)

This study was conducted to investigate students' perceptions about using the website to learn vocabulary in English for Specific classroom. 27 students studying the third year at a university in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam were selected for the study. After ten weeks using the website to learn and practice vocabulary outside the classroom, the questionnaire was employed to collect the qualitative data. The findings showed that students had positive perceptions about using a website to learn vocabulary. The participating students also indicated that using a website helps students feel less stressed and remember the words better. The study also showed some implications for teachers and students in using ICT as a helpful tool in enhancing students' motivations.

RELATED PAPERS

Doel Satria

Nancy Allen

African Health Sciences

Allan Ronald

Vegueta: Anuario de la Facultad de …

Javier Díaz Marrero

shifalika goenka

Stefano Pasinato

Universitas Philosophica

Ronald Zuleyman

Analytica Chimica Acta

Jozef Verlinden

Alessandra Veropalumbo

Moisés A. Rioja

Postgraduate Medical Journal

Journal of Neurological Surgery Part B: Skull Base

Paulo Aguiar

Mahmoud Fathi

Felistas R Zi

Revista Musical Chilena

Claudio Cornejo Agriano

Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Social and Political Sciences (ICSPS 2017)

Rommel Pasopati

Ext Revista De Extension De La Unc

Mariela Llorens

Journal of Hydro-environment Research

Michel Benoit

Biological Conservation

Truong Nguyen

British Journal of Pharmacology

Teruhiko SHIMOKAWA

Hacettepe university journal of the faculty of pharmacy

Metiner Tosun

Eva Jarosova

Nanomedicine Journal

Sepideh Arbabi

IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation

Igor Syrytsin

See More Documents Like This

  •   We're Hiring!
  •   Help Center
  • Find new research papers in:
  • Health Sciences
  • Earth Sciences
  • Cognitive Science
  • Mathematics
  • Computer Science
  • Academia ©2024

Advertisement

Advertisement

Theoretical trends of research on technology and L2 vocabulary learning: A systematic review

  • Published: 11 May 2021
  • Volume 8 , pages 465–483, ( 2021 )

Cite this article

  • Xinyuan Yang   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-4632-0822 1 ,
  • Li-Jen Kuo   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-8317-4609 1 ,
  • Zohreh R. Eslami   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-2969-5056 2 &
  • Stephanie M. Moody   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-7796-130X 3  

2796 Accesses

26 Citations

1 Altmetric

Explore all metrics

Vocabulary development is critical for second language (L2) learners in both English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL) contexts. Recently, a large body of research has been dedicated to how computer-assisted language learning (CALL) and mobile-assisted language learning (MALL) can facilitate vocabulary knowledge in L2 learners in both EFL and ESL settings. A number of reviews on this topic have been conducted, however, little attention has been given to learners in PreK-12. Also missing from the existing research is an in-depth examination of the theories underlying vocabulary learning within technological programs. However, understanding theoretical foundations of vocabulary learning is critical for both researchers and educators who seek to improve vocabulary development in L2 learners. The current study aims to close these gaps by investigating research on the use of technology for L2 vocabulary learning for learners in PreK-12 between 2011 and 2020. Using systematic review procedures, a total of 80 articles were identified for analysis. Results showed information/cognitive theories were most frequently and explicitly referenced, followed by social theories of learning. Consistent with previous research syntheses on CALL and MALL, many studies did not articulate an explicit theoretical framework used in their research. These findings suggest that research on technology-mediated vocabulary learning for Prek-12 L2 learners should be conducted from more diverse and explicit theoretical perspectives.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price includes VAT (Russian Federation)

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Rent this article via DeepDyve

Institutional subscriptions

literature review of vocabulary

Similar content being viewed by others

literature review of vocabulary

Impact of ChatGPT on learners in a L2 writing practicum: An exploratory investigation

literature review of vocabulary

Key factors in digital literacy in learning and education: a systematic literature review using text mining

Catherine Audrin & Bertrand Audrin

literature review of vocabulary

Quantitative Methodology

Aagaard, J. (2018). Magnetic and multistable: Reinterpreting the affordances of educational technology. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 15 (1), 4.

Article   Google Scholar  

Abraham, L. B. (2008). Computer-mediated glosses in second language reading comprehension and vocabulary learning: A meta-analysis. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 21 (3), 199–226.

Alverman, D. E., Unrau, N. J., & Ruddell, R. B. (Eds.). (2013). Theoretical models and processes of reading . (6th ed.). International Reading Association.

Google Scholar  

Burston, J. (2015). Twenty years of MALL project implementation: A meta-analysis of learning outcomes. ReCALL, 27 (1), 4–20.

Butler-Pascoe, M. E. (2011). The history of CALL The intertwining paths of technology and second foreign language teaching. International Journal of Computer-Assisted Language Learning and Teaching, 1 (1), 16–32.

Chapelle, C. A. (2009). The relationship between second language acquisition theory and computer-assisted language learning. The Modern Language Journal , 93 , 741–753.

Chen, Z. H., & Lee, S. Y. (2018). Application-driven educational game to assist young Children in learning English vocabulary. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 21 (1), 70–81.

Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (Eds.). (2017). E-learning ecologies: Principles for new learning and assessment . Taylor & Francis.

Duman, G., Orhon, G., & Gedik, N. (2015). Research trends in mobile assisted language learning from 2000 to 2012. ReCALL, 27 (2), 197–216.

Elgort, I. (2018). Technology-mediated second language vocabulary development: A review of trends in research methodology. Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium, 35 (1), 1–29.

Fehr, C. N., Davison, M. L., Graves, M. F., Sales, G. C., Seipel, B., & Sekhran-Sharma, S. (2012). The effects of individualized, online vocabulary instruction on picture vocabulary scores: An efficacy study. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 25 (1), 87–102.

Grgurovic, M., Chapelle, C., & Shelley, M. C. (2013). A meta-analysis of effectiveness studies on computer technology-supported language learning. ReCALL, 25 (02), 165.

Guthrie, J. T., & Wigfield, A. (2000). Engagement and motivation in reading. In M. L. Kamil, P. B. Mosenthal, P. D. Pearson, & R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of reading research. (Vol. III, pp. 403–424). Erlbaum.

Henriksen, B. (1999). Three dimensions of vocabulary development. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 21 (2), 303–317.

Jingjit, M. (2015). The effects of multimedia learning on Thai primary pupils’ achievement in size and depth of vocabulary knowledge. Journal of Education and Practice, 6 (33), 72–81.

Kukulska-Hulme, A., & Shield, L. (2008). An overview of mobile assisted language learning: From content delivery to supported collaboration and interaction. ReCALL, 20 (3), 271–289.

Lai, Y. C. (2016). EFL learners’ vocabulary consolidation strategy use and corresponding performance on vocabulary tests. Taiwan Journal of TESOL, 13 (1), 33–70.

Laufer, B., & Ravenhorst-Kalovski, G. C. (2010). Lexical threshold revisited: Lexical text coverage, learner’s vocabulary size and reading comprehension. Reading in a Foreign Language, 22 (1), 15–30.

Li, X., & Song, S. (2018). Mobile technology affordance and its social implications: A case of “Rain Classroom.” British Journal of Educational Technology, 49 (2), 276–291.

Lwo, L., & Lin, M. C. T. (2012). The effects of captions in teenagers’ multimedia L2 learning. ReCALL, 24 (2), 188–208.

Macaro, E., Handley, Z., & Walter, C. (2012). A systematic review of CALL in English as a second language: Focus on primary and secondary education. Language Teaching, 45 (1), 1–43.

Mayer, R. E. (2009). Multimedia learning . (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Book   Google Scholar  

Mayer, R. E. (2014). Cognitive theory of multimedia learning. In R. E. Mayer (Ed.), Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning. (2nd ed., pp. 43–71). Cambridge University Press.

Chapter   Google Scholar  

Mirzaei, A., Domakani, M. R., & Rahimi, S. (2016). Computerized lexis-based instruction in EFL classrooms: Using multi-purpose LexisBOARD to teach L2 vocabulary. ReCALL: The Journal of EUROCALL, 28 (1), 22.

Nation, I. S. P. (1990). Teaching and learning vocabulary . . Newbury House Publishers.

Nation, I. S. P. (2013). Learning vocabulary in another language . (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Nova, J. C., Chavarro, C. I. O., & Zubieta, A. M. (2017). Educational videos: a didactic tool for strengthening English vocabulary through the development of affective learning in kids. Gist: Education and Learning Research Journal . https://doi.org/10.26817/16925777.368 .

Oliver, M. (2013). Learning technology: Theorising the tools we study. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44 (1), 31–43.

Paivio, A. (2010). Dual coding theory and the mental lexicon. The Mental Lexicon, 5 (2), 205–230.

Pass, F., & Sweller, J. (2014). Implications of cognitive load theory for multimedia learning. In R. E. Mayer (Ed.), Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning. (2nd ed., pp. 27–42). Cambridge University Press.

Peterson, M. (2010). Computerized games and simulations in CALL: A meta-analysis of research. Simulation & Gaming, 41 (1), 72–93.

Plonsky, L., & Ziegler, N. (2016). The CALL-SLA interface: Insights from a second-order synthesis. Language Learning & Technology, 20 (2), 17–37.

Ryoo, K. (2015). Teaching science through the language of students in technology-enhanced instruction. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 24 (1), 29–42.

Samuels, S. J., & Kamil, M. L. (2002). Models of the reading process. In P. D. Pearson (Ed.), Handbook of reading research. (Vol. 1, pp. 185–224). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Schmitt, N. (2008). Instructed second language vocabulary learning. Language Teaching Research, 12 (3), 329–363.

Schmitt, N. (2010). Researching vocabulary: A vocabulary research manual . . Palgrave Macmillan.

Schunk, D. H., & Swartz, C. W. (1993). Goals and progress feedback: Effects on self-efficacy and writing achievement. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 18 , 337–354.

Schunk, D. H., & Zimmerman, B. J. (2007). Influencing children’s self-efficacy and self-regulation of reading and writing through modeling. Reading and Writing Quarterly, 23 , 7–25.

Stockwell, G. (2007). A review of technology choice for teaching language skills and areas in the CALL literature. ReCALL, 19 (2), 105–120.

Taj, I. H., Sulan, N. B., Sipra, M. A., & Ahmad, W. (2016). Impact of mobile assisted language learning (MALL) on EFL: A meta-analysis. Advances in Language and Literary Studies, 7 (2), 76–83.

Tracey, D. H., & Morrow, L. M. (2006). Lenses on reading: An introduction to theories and models . . The Guilford Press.

Unrau, N. J., & Alvermann, D. E. (2013). Literacies and their investigation through theories and models. In D. E. Alverman, N. J. Unrau, & R. B. Ruddell (Eds.), Theoretical models and processes of reading. (6th ed., pp. 47–90). International Reading Association.

White, E. L. (2011). Technology-based literacy instruction for English language learners. Journal of College Teaching and Learning, 8 (6), 1–6.

Young, S. S. C., & Wang, Y. H. (2014). The game embedded CALL system to facilitate English vocabulary acquisition and pronunciation. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 17 (3), 239–251.

Download references

Not Applicable.

Author information

Authors and affiliations.

Department of Teaching, Learning, and Culture, Texas A&M University, College Station, USA

Xinyuan Yang & Li-Jen Kuo

Department of Educational Psychology, Texas A&M University, College Station, USA

Zohreh R. Eslami

Towson University, Towson, USA

Stephanie M. Moody

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Xinyuan Yang .

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest.

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher's note.

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Yang, X., Kuo, LJ., Eslami, Z.R. et al. Theoretical trends of research on technology and L2 vocabulary learning: A systematic review. J. Comput. Educ. 8 , 465–483 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40692-021-00187-8

Download citation

Received : 21 July 2020

Revised : 17 January 2021

Accepted : 16 March 2021

Published : 11 May 2021

Issue Date : December 2021

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s40692-021-00187-8

Share this article

Anyone you share the following link with will be able to read this content:

Sorry, a shareable link is not currently available for this article.

Provided by the Springer Nature SharedIt content-sharing initiative

  • Vocabulary development
  • L2 learners
  • Theoretical foundations
  • Find a journal
  • Publish with us
  • Track your research

17 strong academic phrases to write your literature review (+ real examples)

Photo of Master Academia

A well-written academic literature review not only builds upon existing knowledge and publications but also involves critical reflection, comparison, contrast, and identifying research gaps. The following 17 strong academic key phrases can assist you in writing a critical and reflective literature review.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase using the links below at no additional cost to you . I only recommend products or services that I truly believe can benefit my audience. As always, my opinions are my own.

Academic key phrases to present existing knowledge in a literature review

Academic key phrases to contrast and compare findings in a literature review, academic key phrases to highlight research gaps in a literature review, the topic has received significant interest within the wider literature..

Example: “ The topic of big data and its integration with AI has received significant interest within the wider literature .” ( Dwivedi et al. 2021, p. 4 )

The topic gained considerable attention in the academic literature in…

Example:  “ The relationship between BITs and FDI gained considerable attention in the academic literature in the last two decades .” ( Amendolagine and Prota, 2021, p. 173 )

Studies have identified…

Example: “ Studies have identified the complexities of implementing AI based systems within government and the public sector .” ( Dwivedi et al. 2021, p. 6 )

Researchers have discussed…

Example: “ Researchers have discussed the ethical dimensions of AI and implications for greater use of the technology. ” ( Dwivedi et al. 2021, p. 6)

Recent work demonstrated that…

Example: “Recent work demonstrated that dune grasses with similar morphological traits can build contrasting landscapes due to differences in their spatial shoot organization.” ( Van de Ven, 2022 et al., p. 1339 )

Existing research frequently attributes…

Example:  “Existing research frequently attributes these challenges to AI’s technical complexity, demand for data, and unpredictable interactions.” ( Yang et al., 2020, p. 174 )

Prior research has hypothesized that…

Example:  “Prior research has hypothesized that racial and ethnic disparities may be mitigated if the patient and provider share the same race due to improved communication and increased trust” ( Otte, 2022, p. 1 )

Prior studies have found that…

Example:  “ Prior studies have found that court-referred individuals are more likely to complete relationship violence intervention programs (RVIP) than self-referred individuals. ” ( Evans et al. 2022, p. 1 )

You may also like: 26 powerful academic phrases to write your introduction (+ real examples)

While some scholars…, others…

Example: “On the sustainable development of microcredit, some scholars emphasize the effect of its poverty alleviation, while some scholars emphasize the factors such as institutional innovation and government support.” ( Huang et al., 2021, p. 2117 )

The findings of Scholar A showcase that… . Scholar B , on the other hand, found…

Example: “ The findings of Arinto (2016) call for administrators concerning the design of faculty development programs, provision of faculty support, and strategic planning for online distance learning implementation across the institution. Francisco and Nuqui (2020) on the other hand found that the new normal leadership is an adaptive one while staying strong on their commitment. ” ( Asio and Bayucca, 2021, p. 20 )

Interestingly, all the arguments refer to…

Example:  “Interestingly, all the arguments above refer to daily role transitions—more specifically: role transitions on teleworking days—as an important explanatory mechanism for both the possible conflict-reducing effect and the potential conflict enhancing effects of telework.”  ( Delanoeije et al., 2019, p. 1845 )

This argument is similar to…

Example: “The third argument against physician involvement in lethal injection is that physicians are prohibited from deliberately harming patients or the argument from nonmaleficence. This argument is similar to the argument from healing but has different implications and must therefore be considered independently.” ( Sawicki, 2022, p. 22 )

literature review of vocabulary

If you are looking to elevate your writing and editing skills, I highly recommend enrolling in the course “ Good with Words: Writing and Editing Specialization “, which is a 4 course series offered by the University of Michigan. This comprehensive program is conveniently available as an online course on Coursera, allowing you to learn at your own pace. Plus, upon successful completion, you’ll have the opportunity to earn a valuable certificate to showcase your newfound expertise!

Yet, it remains unknown how…

Example: “Yet, it remains unknown how findings from aeolian landscapes translate to aquatic systems and how young clonally expanding plants in hydrodynamically exposed conditions overcome these establishment thresholds by optimizing shoot placement.” ( Van de Ven, 2022 et al., p. 1339 )

There is, however, still little research on…

Example:  “There is, however, still little research on what integrated STEM approaches require from schools and teachers, and on the potential obstacles that may prevent teachers from running this kind of teaching.”  ( Bungum and Mogstad, 2022, p. 2 )

Existing studies have failed to address…

Example: “ University–industry relations (UIR) are usually analysed by the knowledge transfer channels, but existing studies have failed to address what knowledge content is being transferred – impacting the technology output aimed by the partnership.”  (Dalmarco et al. 2019, p. 1314 )

Several scholars have recommended to move away…

Example: “Several scholars have recommended to move away from such a stable-level approach (i.e. using a global judgment of work-home conflict) to a dynamic episodes approach ” ( Delanoeije et al., 2019, p. 1847 )

New approaches are needed to address…

Example:  “ Accurate computational approaches are needed to address this gap and to enable large-scale structural bioinformatics. ” ( Jumper et al. 2021,p. 583 )

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox!

Subscribe and receive Master Academia's quarterly newsletter.

26 powerful academic phrases to write your introduction (+ real examples)

13 awesome academic phrases to write your methodology (+ real examples), related articles.

Featured blog post image for 10 key skills of successful master's students

10 key skills of successful master’s students

Featured blog post image for The best Coursera courses for PhD researchers in 2023

The best Coursera courses for PhD researchers in 2023

literature review of vocabulary

Clever strategies to keep up with the latest academic research

literature review of vocabulary

Introduce yourself in a PhD interview (4 simple steps + examples)

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • View all journals
  • My Account Login
  • Explore content
  • About the journal
  • Publish with us
  • Sign up for alerts
  • Open access
  • Published: 06 September 2023

The relationship between L2 vocabulary knowledge and reading proficiency: The moderating effects of vocabulary fluency

  • Yanli Tong   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-3687-7520 1 , 2 ,
  • Zuwati Hasim 1 &
  • Huzaina Abdul Halim 1  

Humanities and Social Sciences Communications volume  10 , Article number:  555 ( 2023 ) Cite this article

1862 Accesses

1 Altmetric

Metrics details

  • Language and linguistics

In this study, we ascertain the links between the four dimensions of L2 vocabulary knowledge and L2 reading proficiency and the moderating effects of vocabulary fluency. For this purpose, 312 EFL Chinese university student volunteers were recruited from six majors at one tertiary university in Southeast China, and they took a series of vocabulary tests and the IELTS reading test. SEM and PING’S SINGLE INDICATOR INTERACTION methods were adopted to analyze the collected test data. The results indicated that (a) receptive lexical knowledge has a much closer link with reading proficiency than productive vocabulary knowledge; (b) among the four dimensions of L2 vocabulary knowledge, receptive vocabulary depth has a closer connection with reading proficiency than receptive vocabulary breadth; (c) vocabulary fluency has a substantial moderating effect on the connection between L2 vocabulary and reading proficiency; and (d) multiple regression analysis verifies that whole-word knowledge explains 49% of the variance in L2 reading testing grades. We discuss theoretical and instructional implications, focusing on the role of the four dimensions of L2 vocabulary knowledge in the vocabulary assessment criteria for developing L2 reading proficiency.

Similar content being viewed by others

literature review of vocabulary

Language and nonlanguage factors in foreign language learning: evidence for the learning condition hypothesis

Xin Kang, Stephen Matthews, … Patrick C. M. Wong

literature review of vocabulary

Reading skills intervention during the Covid-19 pandemic

Ana Sucena, Ana Filipa Silva & Cátia Marques

literature review of vocabulary

Early reading at first grade predicts adult reading at age 42 in typical and dyslexic readers

Emilio Ferrer, Bennett A. Shaywitz, … Sally E. Shaywitz

Introduction

It has long been known that lexical knowledge plays a pivotal role in developing ESL/EFL reading proficiency as an indispensable variable that positively affects students’ academic reading (Cheng and Matthews, 2018 ; McLean et al., 2020 ; Nation, 2013 ; Qian, 2002 ). However, mental vocabulary is complicated, and the fundamental nature of vocabulary knowledge has often puzzled language teachers and researchers (Schmitt, 2014 ). Therefore, vocabulary experts have developed numerous frameworks mainly comprising the differences between vocabulary breadth or quantity (the number of words learners know) and vocabulary depth or quality (the extent to which learners know these words) (Anderson and Freebody, 1981 ; Nation, 2013 ). These vocabulary frameworks have been widely applied to language proficiency development research, especially reading proficiency (Cheng and Matthews, 2018 ; Moinzadeh and Moslehpour, 2012 ; Qian, 2002 ; Qian and Lin, 2020 ; Stæhr, 2008 ). However, relative to these studies investigating the role of receptive word knowledge in reading ability, research on how productive vocabulary knowledge relates to reading proficiency is scarce, especially when taking both receptive and productive word knowledge into account concurrently. Furthermore, vocabulary fluency is another critical dimension of vocabulary knowledge (Kremmel and Schmitt, 2016 ; Nation, 2013 ; Schmitt and Schmitt, 2014 ). However, far less research considers vocabulary fluency as a research variable in exploring the link between word knowledge and reading proficiency.

Additionally, since the language belongs to different families, it is difficult for Chinese ESL/EFL learners to develop their L2 word knowledge and improve their reading ability. Although Chinese university students spend much time reciting new words based on a dictionary or textbook word banks, they cannot recognize and understand what these words mean in the context of reading. The main reason for this is likely that Chinese university students do not know what vocabulary knowledge truly is and do not have a method to learn words to develop their reading skills purposefully. Therefore, it is necessary to explore an effective method that can help ESL/EFL learners in China and elsewhere develop their word knowledge and improve their reading proficiency.

Literature review

L2 vocabulary knowledge.

Vocabulary knowledge is complicated and multifaceted. In attempting to clarify the complicated nature of word knowledge, scholars have proposed several theoretical concepts (Anderson and Freebody, 1981 ; Cronbach, 1942 ; Henriksen, 1999 ; Laufer and Goldstein, 2004 ; Nation, 2013 ; Paribakht and Wesche, 1993 ; Qian, 2002 ; Qian and Lin, 2020 ; Schmitt, 2014 ; Wesche and Paribakht, 1996 ). These concepts have typically been divided into two critical approaches: the development approach and the dimension approach (Read, 2000 ; Yanagisawa and Webb, 2020 ).

The development approach, also called the cumulative approach, presents vocabulary knowledge as a process of cumulative development. Typical research employing the developmental approach of vocabulary knowledge uses scales that signal the developmental stage of word knowledge, such as the vocabulary knowledge scale (VKS) (Paribakht and Wesche, 1993 ; Wesche and Paribakht, 1996 ). The VKS presented below was developed to capture the development stage of lexicon knowledge scoping from no knowledge to fully developed knowledge.

1. I do not remember having seen this word before.

2. I have seen this word before, but I do not know what it means.

3. I have seen this word before, and I think it means______. (Synonym or translation).

4. I know this word. It means_______. (Synonym or translation).

5. I can use this word in the sentence: ________. (If you complete this section, please also complete Section IV).

The five divisions of this scale represent how well test takers know each word, and the scale has been widely used in the lexicon research field (Read, 2000 ; Schmitt, 2010 ). However, it has been criticized for two main reasons: first, the VKS supposes that the extent of difficulty between each division of the scale is equal; second, the VKS also supposes that word knowledge improves linearly from one division to the next (Yanagisawa and Webb, 2020 ). Different degrees of difficulty might be involved in the development process, and linear development may not always occur. For example, if one does not know the meaning of a word, one can still use it with accurate grammar. Dialectically, despite the apparent drawbacks of this developmental approach, it is still meaningful for assessing vocabulary acquisition because learning is a gradual process from unfamiliarity to familiarity.

The dimensional approach, called the components approach, divides the word ‘knowledge’ into multiple dimensions or components. Since Cronbach ( 1942 ) first proposed five word-knowledge dimensions, many other researchers subsequently developed the dimensional approach (Anderson and Freebody, 1981 ; Henriksen, 1999 ; Laufer and Goldstein, 2004 ; Nation, 2013 ; Qian, 2002 ; Qian and Lin, 2020 ; Schmitt, 2014 ). Generalizing their approaches, the three main dimensions cover breadth, depth, and fluency. Nation has described the most complete and widely cited word-knowledge theoretical framework (2013), which classified lexical knowledge into three dimensions: word form, word meaning, and word use. Each dimension includes three aspects of knowledge, and each aspect is divided into receptive and productive proficiency (Table 1 ). Receptive knowledge involves knowing words when they are encountered during reading or listening, whereas productive knowledge involves using words in speech or writing. Receptive and productive knowledge have been noted to lie on a continuum comprising levels of knowledge, beginning with word unfamiliarity and ending with the capability to use the word in language application freely.

The classifications of word-knowledge descriptions are comprehensive because they include almost all aspects of lexical knowledge; thus, many researchers have adopted Nation’s dimensional framework to investigate L2 word knowledge (Cheng and Matthews, 2018 ; Li and Kirby, 2015 ; McLean et al., 2020 ). However, it is difficult for language teachers to apply all the aspects to vocabulary teaching and for researchers to use all of them in one study. Therefore, the researchers have focused only on certain aspects of their research.

In the dimensional approach, it is essential to distinguish vocabulary breadth and depth of knowledge (Qian, 2002 ; Qian and Lin, 2020 ; Schmitt, 2014 ). Qian ( 2002 ) proposed four dimensions of word knowledge: breadth, depth, organization, and receptivity–productivity. According to Qian ( 2002 ), vocabulary breadth is the quantity of vocabulary in learners’ mental lexicon. It typically represents the form-meaning link because it counts learned word items. At the same time, vocabulary depth is the extent to which learners know words, described by all vocabulary features, such as phonetics, morphology, syntax, semantics, and collocations. Qian noted that it is essential for language learners to command both the breadth and depth of word knowledge and to reach their goals of vocabulary learning from receptivity to productivity. Schmitt ( 2014 ) not only stressed the importance of the three dimensions of word knowledge covering vocabulary breadth, vocabulary depth, and vocabulary fluency but also pointed out that vocabulary breadth tests focus on explicit aspects such as the form-meaning link. In contrast, vocabulary depth tests mainly focus on implied collocation and association aspects. Hence, designing appropriate lexical breadth and depth measurement instruments is meaningful based on the research aims and other related factors. Qian and Lin ( 2020 ) stressed the importance of vocabulary breadth and depth combined with receptive and productive vocabulary. The authors noted that receptive vocabulary forms the breadth and depth of a learner’s vocabulary in the mental lexicon; receptive vocabulary breadth and depth knowledge must be further developed into productive vocabulary breadth and depth knowledge for communication. Based on Qian and Lin, the four dimensions of receptive vocabulary breadth, receptive vocabulary depth, productive vocabulary breadth, and productive vocabulary depth are closely related to language proficiency. Accordingly, many researchers have focused on the link between word knowledge and language proficiency, especially reading. However, research is limited to the role of receptive lexicon knowledge in reading. As far as I know, except for Cheng and Matthews ( 2018 ), few scholars have explored the role of productive word knowledge in reading; however, Cheng and Matthews found that productive vocabulary breadth plays the most significant role in reading, which ignited an interest in exploring which dimension of lexical knowledge covering receptive vocabulary or productive knowledge is more critical for improving reading proficiency.

In addition to vocabulary breadth and depth, vocabulary fluency is another critical dimension of word knowledge (Nation, 2020 ; Qian and Lin, 2020 ; Schmitt, 2014 ). Nation ( 2020 ) reaffirmed the importance of fluency, which accounts for one-third of a well-balanced lesson, having equal status with meaning-input (receptive knowledge) and meaning-output (productive knowledge). Hence, language teachers should pay more attention to strengthening the fluency development of learners because developing fluency may improve the automaticity of vocabulary use; therefore, vocabulary fluency development is supposed to be the learners’ ultimate goal (Qian and Lin, 2020 ; Schmitt, 2014 ). Li and Zhang ( 2019 ) acknowledged that lexical fluency determines how fast learners can process words when using language. Here, vocabulary fluency is defined as the speed of recognizing, retrieving, and producing target words in language use.

Vocabulary fluency has been acknowledged as an essential dimension of vocabulary knowledge (Schmitt, 2014 ; Nation, 2020 ). Schmitt ( 2014 ) notes that words must be processed quickly to communicate smoothly, that is, both speakers and listeners must recognize words with sufficient speed. Nation ( 2020 ) firmly believes that fluency should account for one-third of the three aspects of meaning input, meaning output, and fluency development in a balanced lesson. However, only a handful of scholars have considered it a research variable influencing language proficiency. Li and Zhang ( 2019 ) investigated the connection between the three dimensions of lexicon knowledge, covering breadth, depth, and fluency, as well as listening proficiency, and found that vocabulary breadth is most important for L2 listening, with β  = 0.36, followed by β  = 0.17 for vocabulary depth and β  = −0.22 for vocabulary fluency. The authors concluded that all three dimensions significantly predict L2 listening, even though there is a negative β value for vocabulary fluency, which leads to the question of whether vocabulary fluency is appropriate as an independent variable. As mentioned before, vocabulary learning starts from unfamiliarity and ends with familiarity; that is, learners first acquire breadth knowledge, then gradually develop depth knowledge, and finally, they fluently produce words in language use through practice; that is, vocabulary breadth and depth belong to knowledge, and fluency is competence. Therefore, fluency may play a facilitating role in the development process from receptivity to productivity. For example, even with skillful techniques, a cook cannot make delicious food without the ingredients. In an old Chinese saying, the role of vocabulary fluency is “the icing on the cake” rather than “a gift in the snow”. Hence, this study considers vocabulary fluency a moderation variable to determine whether it promotes the effect of fundamental dimensions of word knowledge, covering lexicon breadth and depth, on reading proficiency. However, to avoid Type-1 errors, we first examine the effect of vocabulary fluency as an independent variable.

Vocabulary and reading

Over the past two decades, many scholars have ascertained the link between lexical knowledge and reading ability (Cheng and Matthews, 2018 ; McLean et al., 2020 ; Jeon and Yamashita, 2014 ; Qian, 2002 ; Stæhr, 2008 ; Zhang and Zhang, 2020 ). Qian ( 2002 ) administered a study to investigate the effect of receptive breadth and the depth of word knowledge on reading by adopting the Vocabulary Levels Test (Nation, 1983 ) to evaluate receptive vocabulary breadth and using Depth of Vocabulary Knowledge (DVK) derived from the WAT, developed by Read ( 1993 , 1995 ) to assess receptive vocabulary depth consisting of synonymy, polysemy, and collocation. Read found that the Pearson correlation between receptive lexicon depth and reading is r  = 0.77, and r  = 0.74 for receptive vocabulary breadth, indicating that the DVK is better than the VLT for the TOEFL-Reading. Stæhr ( 2008 ) ascertained the correlations among receptive vocabulary breadth and listening, reading, and writing in EFL based on the VLT version designed by Nation ( 1983 ) and improved by Schmitt et al. ( 2001 ) and found that the Pearson correlation coefficient between receptive lexical breadth and reading is r  = 0.83, which is higher than that of writing and listening, indicating that it is most critical for reading to develop receptive vocabulary breadth knowledge. Cheng and Matthews ( 2018 ) examined the link between L2 word knowledge comprising receptive/productive vocabulary breadth and productive phonological lexicon by using the VLT (Schmitt et al., 2001 ), controlled-production vocabulary levels test (Laufer and Nation, 1999 ) and partial dictation (Matthews and Cheng, 2015 ) and they found that productive vocabulary breadth has the strongest correlation with L2 reading ( r  = 0.57), which ignited strong interest in investigating which dimension of L2 word knowledge is most important for reading ability; after all, reading is a receptive language skill. Through a meta-analysis, Jeon and Yamashita ( 2014 ) investigated the overall average correlation between vocabulary and grammar knowledge and reading. They found that L2 grammar knowledge had a stronger relationship with reading ( r  = 0.85) than with L2 lexical knowledge ( r  = 0.79). However, vocabulary competence is usually regarded as more essential than syntactic knowledge in communication (Laufer and Goldstein, 2004 ; Qian and Lin, 2020 ). Zhang and Zhang ( 2020 ) also ascertained the link between L2 lexical knowledge and reading through a meta-analysis. They discovered that the overall average correlation between VK and L2 reading was r  = 0.57, which is lower than that in Jeon and Yamashita’s meta-analysis study by r  = 0.22. The results of the two meta-analysis studies are quite different, possibly because of different research samples; therefore, it is necessary to ascertain the role of lexical knowledge in reading proficiency further empirically. McLean et al. ( 2020 ) explored the predictive strength of various test formats of lexical knowledge covering recall and recognition tests. They found that written form-recall tests and written meaning-recall tests had a stronger connection with reading ability than written meaning-recognition tests, similar to the finding of Laufer and Goldstein ( 2004 ).

Overall, this section reviews the research addressing the role of L2 lexical knowledge in reading capability. However, few studies have drawn attention to the effect of productive lexicon knowledge on reading proficiency, probably because reading is a receptive skill in researchers’ potential consciousness. Furthermore, there is still some uncertainty regarding whether receptive or productive word knowledge better predicts reading ability. Additionally, since L2 vocabulary knowledge has multiple dimensions, it is meaningful to clarify the various roles of these dimensions in reading proficiency. Last, most of the above research adopted written meaning-recognition tests instead of written form-recall tests or written meaning-recall tests, which have been empirically demonstrated not to inflate test takers’ vocabulary size.

Vocabulary test

As noted above, vocabulary knowledge is complicated and multifaceted. In attempting to investigate the degree to which learners know words, scholars have developed vocabulary test instruments such as the VKS (Paribakht and Wesche, 1993 ; Wesche and Paribakht, 1996 ), VLT (Nation, 1990 ; Schmitt et al., 2001 ), and VST (Nation and Beglar, 2007 ) for measuring learners’ receptive vocabulary size/breadth; the WAF (Read, 1993 ) and WAT (Read, 1998 ) for checking learners’ receptive vocabulary depth; and the PLT (Laufer and Nation, 1999 ) for testing learners’ productive vocabulary size/breadth. In addition, many researchers have designed modalities to measure vocabulary depth according to their research purposes, such as collocation, association, and polysemy. These scales have been very popular vocabulary research tools for researchers and language teachers, and have made the field of vocabulary research fruitful. Over time, however, the most prominent vocabulary tests have been questioned by scholars.

Size/breadth tests have been applied for many research objectives, scoping from an agent for general language capability to a diagnosis of whether learners have sufficient lexical resources for developing four language skills. Kremmel and Schmitt ( 2016 ) acknowledged that on a technical level. However, the VLT and VST are receptive vocabulary tests, they are not multiple-choice tests of the practical application of the language. In other words, multiple matching (VLT) and four-option multiple-choice (VST) tasks test passive meaning recognition, which cannot embody learners’ actual known vocabulary size. Laufer and Goldstein ( 2004 ) differentiated four vocabulary size test formats and acknowledged that passive recall predicted language proficiency in the classroom. McLean et al. ( 2020 ), having acknowledged that the VLT and VST may exaggerate estimates of learners’ vocabulary size, conducted a study to investigate various test formats of lexical knowledge in predicting L2 reading and declared that written meaning-recall tests can best indicate reading proficiency, which is congruent with the findings of Kremmel and Schmitt ( 2016 ). Stoeckel et al. ( 2021 ) and Stewart et al. ( 2021 ) asserted that written meaning-recall is the preferred option for tests measuring vocabulary knowledge for reading because all else being equal, tests with recall items of the same words demonstrate superior quality.

Likewise, vocabulary depth is related to the degree of word knowledge. Hence, its measurement should reveal how well learners know words. Vocabulary depth tests are valuable since they may represent the degree to which learners can use words freely. Read’s WAF/WAT ( 1993 , 1998 ) has long been a popular tool for measuring vocabulary depth knowledge for a long time. However, the WAT is regarded as insufficient in representing test takers’ depth of vocabulary knowledge reflected by the test because it involves only collocation and multiple meanings (Yanagisawa and Webb, 2020 ).

Although previous vocabulary measurement tools covering breadth and depth have been questioned, no uniform test format has emerged. Scholars also suggest that the selection of the test format should conform to the objective of the test and should depend on the type of information that the test designers want to capture. In conclusion, the preceding review shows that most researchers focus on the connection between receptive lexical knowledge and reading capability, and few pay attention to productive lexical knowledge, especially productive vocabulary depth. Furthermore, previous studies have mainly applied outdated measurement instruments. Additionally, the lack of empirical research into the vocabulary fluency effect is unexpected because it is a crucial dimension for proficient language learners. In this study, we bridge the gap in the research by ascertaining the effect of the four dimensions of L2 word knowledge on reading proficiency by the moderating role of vocabulary fluency.

Conceptual framework

According to the dimensional approach and research aims mentioned above, the conceptual framework of lexical knowledge for the present study is shown in Fig. 1 .

figure 1

Rec receptive, Pro productive, VK vocabulary knowledge, VF vocabulary fluency, LP language proficiency, RP reading proficiency.

As shown in Fig. 1 , on the left side of the figure, the four dimensions of L2 vocabulary knowledge, consisting of receptive vocabulary breadth/depth and productive vocabulary breadth/depth, are presented. On the right side, reading proficiency is a receptive language skill and is one of four language proficiencies. The double-headed arrow represents the link between L2 word knowledge and language proficiency (reading). Vocabulary fluency (VF) in the middle moderates the role in the relationship between two variables.

Questions for the research

In the present study, we ascertain the correlation and prediction relations between the four dimensions of vocabulary knowledge and L2 reading proficiency, and we examine the moderating role of lexicon fluency on the connection between each aspect of L2 word knowledge and reading ability. The quantitative research method is adopted to analyze the link between the four dimensions of L2 lexicon knowledge and reading capability based on the concept framework of Fig. 1 .

According to the concept framework, the following three research questions are presented:

RQ1. How important are the four dimensions of L2 lexical knowledge for reading proficiency?

RQ2. To what extent can reading proficiency be predicted by L2 lexical knowledge?

RQ3. Is vocabulary fluency more effective as a moderator or independent variable?

Methodology

Participants.

The participants in this study were recruited in two steps. The first step was purposive sampling, and a minimum sample size of 300 was recruited from one university at which the researcher worked based on the quantitative method’s structural equation model (SEM) (MacCallum et al., 1996 ). The second step was simple random sampling. Six classes with 52 students per class were randomly selected from six majors: Chinese, preschool education, business, computer, biology, and chemistry. This yielded a total of 312 Chinese university students at one local university in China. Their average age was 20.5 years old, and they had no overseas learning or life experiences. It needs to be explained here that the purpose of randomly selecting six majors was not to make a comparative study of the six majors but to make up for the shortage caused by having only a single research site.

Instruments

Numerous researchers have observed that written form-recall tests and written meaning-recall tests used for measuring vocabulary breadth and depth correlate better with reading ability than meaning-recognition tests (González-Fernández and Schmitt, 2019 ; Laufer and Goldstein, 2004 ; McLean et al., 2020 ). Meaning-recognition tests, such as the VST and VLT, are suspected of allowing participants to guess words blindly (Kremmel and Schmitt, 2016 ). Therefore, we tried to avoid these pitfalls when designing the test in the present study.

Receptive vocabulary breadth test (VLT)

McLean et al. ( 2020 ) state that written meaning-recall tests require test takers to write L1 meaning based on the provided L2 word form. In this study, the VLT (meaning recognition test) developed by Schmitt et al. ( 2001 ) was adapted to the meaning recall format, and receptive recall was also acknowledged by Laufer and Goldstein ( 2004 ). It includes 2000, 3000, 5000, 10,000, and academic vocabulary levels. Each level has 30 items. The target word is presented in an English sentence, and test takers translate the target word into Chinese. An example is presented below:

That impudent boy stuck his tongue out at me. _____________.

(Please translate the bold and underlined word into Chinese).

Receptive vocabulary depth test (VDT)

According to Yanagisawa and Webb ( 2020 ), it is infeasible to measure all aspects of vocabulary depth; hence, the components of words measured should be chosen based on the testing aims. The WAT designed by Read ( 1998 ) was adapted to the testing instrument, including word parts, multiple meanings, and collocations, for measuring receptive vocabulary depth in this study because they are the first and most prerequisite knowledge in reading for Chinese learners. An example is shown below.

Sudden (adj.)

Word parts: noun: ________

Word parts: adverb: __________

Multiple meanings: s_____________(意外)

Collocation: _____________ (突变)

Productive vocabulary breadth test (PLT)

The written form-recall test was adopted for the PLT; it requires test takers to produce an L2 form according to the provided L1 meaning. The PLT developed by Laufer and Nation ( 1999 ) was adapted to form a productive recall format by Laufer and Goldstein ( 2004 ). It includes 2000, 3000, 5000, 10,000, and academic vocabulary levels. Each level has 18 items. The target word is presented in Chinese, and test takers translate the target word into English. An example is shown below.

战士们 宣誓 效忠国家。Swear an ________

(Please write one word according to the bold and underlined Chinese phrase).

Productive vocabulary depth test (PVDT)

The Definition Completion Test suggested by Read ( 1995 ) is used to measure productive vocabulary depth. The test takers are asked to define the given vocabulary and make a sentence, including word parts, association, collocation, and sentence structure, to check their vocabulary abilities thoroughly. There are 20 target words selected from the IELTS reading comprising five nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.

Definition:

Vocabulary fluency test (VFT)

A dictation test is applied to test fluency using phonetics, morphology, pragmatics, and semantics vocabulary dimensions. The test takers need to provide the missing word or phrase within a time limit when listening to the passage derived from IELTS listening lecture materials, which examines the speed of recognizing and retrieving vocabulary; that is, it reflects test takers’ actual ability from receptive aural form recognition to meaning recognition and then to productive written form recall in the fleeting characteristics of listening.

e.g., So, welcome to your introductory geography__________. We will begin with some basics. First, what do we learn by studying__________?

Test for reading proficiency

IELTS academic reading was used as the testing tool for this research. This part consisted of 40 questions from three articles selected from periodicals, books, magazines, newspapers, etc. At least one of the articles involved detailed logical arguments. The examination types included multiple choices, short answers, completed sentences, completed notes/summaries/flow charts, classification, and matching questions, as well as finding suitable paragraph titles from a set of options to explain the author’s views or opinions and to confirm the understanding of the content of the article. For example,

Questions 1–5

Passage 1 has five paragraphs, A, B, C, D, and E. Write the letter represented by the paragraph that matches the information below.

1. Examples of wildlife other than bats that do not rely on vision to navigate ________

Data collection

Data were collected through vocabulary and reading tests administered in pen-and-paper format in three lecture halls. The four vocabulary tests took 35 min, and the vocabulary fluency test took 25 min. Finally, the reading test was completed in one hour.

The VLT has five levels with 30 items each. One point is awarded for one correct item; thus, the maximum score of the VLT is 150 points.

The VDT consists of two parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, or adverbs), one multiple meaning (to prevent test takers from writing arbitrarily, the initials are provided), and one collocation (the meaning of the phrase is offered). Two points are allocated for two parts of speech, 1 point is allocated for multiple meanings, and 1 point is allocated for collocation; thus, the maximum score of the VDT is 160 points.

The PLT has five levels with 18 items each. One point is awarded for each correct item; thus, the maximum score of the VLT is 90 points.

The PVDT consists of 20 target words, and the participants are asked to explain the presented word and to make a sentence using it. The maximum score is 80 points, including 2 points for explaining the meaning and 2 points for making a sentence. By definition, 1 point is awarded for the proper sentence structure, and 1 point is awarded for the appropriate explanation. After making a sentence, 1 point is awarded for proper sentence structure, and 1 point is awarded for a correct collocation or phrase. Half of 1 point is deducted for misspelling.

The VFT awards 1 point per correct target word, and the maximum score is 80 points, including four passages with 20 missing words for each message.

On reading scoring, the maximum score is 100 points for 40 questions, and each question can be awarded 2.5 points based on the standard answers provided.

Data analysis

In this research, four dimensions of L2 vocabulary knowledge, covering receptive vocabulary breadth, receptive vocabulary depth, productive vocabulary breadth, and productive vocabulary depth, are used as the independent variables; reading proficiency is used as the dependent variable; and vocabulary fluency is used as the moderation variable. We used AMOS 24.0 to analyze the data collected.

Composite reliability, convergence and discriminant validity

Confirmatory factor analyses (CFA) were adopted to check the collected data of all the measurement models. First, all the factor loading values were almost higher than 0.7 (see Table 2 ). The composite reliability (CR) values were over 0.7, as suggested by scholars (Hair et al., 1997 ). Additionally, the convergence validity values evaluated by average extracted variances (AVEs) were above 0.5 (Fornell and Larcker, 1981 ). Hence, all data had good reliability and validity.

In Table 3 , the discriminant validity is acquired by calculating the square root of AVE, and all the correlations of the two variables below are lower than the AVE square roots in bold. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that the study has good discriminating validity. Furthermore, the Pearson correlation coefficient between all vocabulary and reading variables is presented. Importantly, all correlation coefficients between independent variables are lower than r  = 0.75, indicating that collinearity was absent in the model.

Table 3 shows not only discriminant validity but also the correlation between independent variables, all lower than r  = 0.75, indicating that multicollinearity does not exist.

Pearson correlation analysis

The Pearson correlation coefficients between the observational and the latent variables are presented in Table 4 .

In Table 4 , the VDT and reading have the strongest correlation with ( r  = 0.513, p  < 0.001); the VLT ranks second with ( r  = 0.480, p  < 0.001); and the connections between productive vocabulary breadth/depth and reading are ( r  = 0.356, p  < 0.001) and ( r  = 0.364, p  < 0.001), respectively. The VFT correlates lowest with reading proficiency ( r  = 0.275, p  < 0.001).

Although the degree of correlation between each exogenous latent variable (the four dimensions of L2 vocabulary knowledge) and endogenous latent variable (reading proficiency) was detected by Pearson correlation analysis, standardized regression analysis is a statistical method used to check the importance of the independent variables to the dependent variables. A structural equation model was built based on the conceptual framework to answer the first research question below.

RQ1: How important are the four dimensions of L2 lexical knowledge for reading proficiency?

Structural equation model (SEM)

The objective of the present study was to determine the relationships among the four dimensions of L2 word knowledge and reading proficiency based on the moderation effect of lexicon fluency. Based on the concept framework, the SEM of the link between lexical knowledge and reading proficiency was established. Due to uncertainty over whether lexical fluency functions better as an independent or moderator variable, two research models were developed to test authenticity. In Fig. 2 , VFT is involved in the model where the goodness-of-fit indices are presented: the chi-square to degrees of freedom ratio is 2.095, GFI is 0.878, AGFI is 0.847, CFI is 0.942, TLI is 0.933, RMR is 0.045, and RMSEA is 0.059, which are all acceptable, as suggested by scholars (Fornell and Larcker, 1981 ). Hence, the research model is a good representation of the complete set of causal relationships. However, as shown in Fig. 2 , compared to those of the other dimensions of vocabulary knowledge, the standardized regression coefficients of the VFT and reading are only β  = −0.02, which indicates that this research model is perfect, but it is not appropriate to make vocabulary fluency an independent variable (see Fig. 2 ).

figure 2

It aims to verify the plausibility of the designed research model, and calculate the effect of all independent variables (VLT, VDT, PLT, PVDT, and VFT) on the dependent variable (RP).

Figure 2 shows a research model of the relationship between L2 vocabulary knowledge and reading proficiency, among which vocabulary fluency is treated as an independent variable.

Since vocabulary fluency did not present its superiority as an independent variable, a research model without VFT is established in Fig. 3 . The fit indices are also good: the chi-square divided by degrees of freedom is 2.415, GFI is 0.883, AGFI is 0.849, CFI is 0.940, TLI is 0.930, RMR is 0.067, and RMSEA is 0.045. Based on the standardized regression coefficients of the four dimensions of L2 word knowledge and reading ability, the VDT has the highest value ( β  = 0.38), followed by the VLT with β  = 0.33; however, productive vocabulary breadth and productive vocabulary depth have lower regression values with reading proficiency ( β  = 0.20 and β  = 0.19, respectively) (see Fig. 3 ).

figure 3

It is the same research model except for not including one independent variable (VFT).

Figure 3 shows a research model of the relationship between L2 vocabulary knowledge and reading proficiency, among which vocabulary fluency is not included as an independent variable.

To answer RQ1, a structure equation model is established to explore the effect of the four dimensions of L2 vocabulary knowledge on reading capability (see Fig. 3 ). Among the four dimensions of L2 word knowledge, the standardized regression coefficient of the VDT with reading proficiency is β  = 0.38, and those of the other three dimensions, consisting of the VLT, the PLT, and the PVDT, with reading proficiency, are β  = 0.33, β  = 0.20 and β  = 0.19 respectively. Therefore, the effect of the four dimensions of L2 lexical knowledge on reading is different, and receptive vocabulary depth (VDT) has the highest regression value; that is, the VDT plays the most crucial role in reading proficiency, followed by the VLT, whereas the other productive vocabulary dimensions are almost equally important.

Meanwhile, squared multiple correlation (SMC), that is, R 2 , can be calculated by standardized regression analysis. Therefore, the second research question below can be answered.

RQ2: To what extent can reading proficiency be predicted by L2 lexical knowledge?

As presented in Fig. 3 , the estimates indicate that the predictors of RP explain 49% of its variance. In other words, the error variance in RP is approximately 49% of the variance in RP itself. The overall predictive strength of the four dimensions of L2 word knowledge on reading proficiency is calculated with R 2  = 0.64, which indicates that whole vocabulary knowledge explains 49% of the variance in reading comprehension scores.

Since vocabulary fluency does not show its advantages as an independent variable, we tried to use it as a moderator variable to empirically investigate its real value to answer the third research question below.

Moderation effect

A moderator variable affects the degree of the link between the independent and dependent variables. That is, the third variable M influences the connection between variable X and variable Y . The moderator variable has an interactive effect. Ping’s Single Product Indication ( 1995 ) evaluates whether vocabulary fluency influences the correlation between L2 lexicon and reading proficiency.

The moderating role of vocabulary fluency (VLT vs. RP)

Step 1: We calculate factor loadings and residual values by the main effect.

Step 2: The factor loadings and residual values gained in Step 1 are entered into the place of the corresponding factor loading and residual error of the interaction item. A significant result means that there is an interaction (see Fig. 4 ).

figure 4

It is a primary effect model of the relationship between VLT and VFT with RP.

Figure 4 shows a primary effect model of the relationship between the VLT and VFT with reading proficiency, by which all loading values and residual values of variables VLT and VFT are calculated.

All loading and residual values of variables VLT and VFT are added to Ping’s single indicator interaction. Below, we calculate a whole residual value and loading value that are added into the location, as shown in Fig. 5 , in step 2, to verify that the interaction item and the dependent variable are significant (see Fig. 5 ).

figure 5

This is a nonlinear setting and interaction model to check the significance of the moderator variable.

Figure 5 is a nonlinear setting and interaction model by which the significance of the moderator variable is verified.

Based on the analysis result shown in Fig. 5 , we present the data in Table 5 .

In Table 5 , the p value of the moderator variable (MO) is significant, indicating an interaction; that is, vocabulary fluency moderates the link between receptive lexical breadth and reading ability.

The moderating role of vocabulary fluency (VDT vs. RP)

Step 2: The factor loadings and residual values obtained in Step 1 are entered into the place of the corresponding factor loading and residual error of the interaction item. A significant result means an interaction (see Fig. 6 ).

figure 6

It is a primary effect model of the relationship between VDT and VFT with RP.

Figure 6 shows a primary effect model of the relationship between the VDT and VFT and reading proficiency, by which all loading values and residual values of variables VDT and VFT are calculated.

All loading values and residual values of variables VDT and VFT are added into Ping’s single indicator interaction; we calculate a whole residual value and loading value, which are added to the location, as shown in Fig. 7 , in step 2 to verify that the interaction item and the dependent variable are significant (see Fig. 7 ).

figure 7

Based on the analysis result of Fig. 7 , we present the data in Table 6 .

In Table 6 , the p value of the MO is significant, demonstrating that vocabulary fluency moderates the link between receptive vocabulary depth and reading.

The moderating role of vocabulary fluency (PLT vs. RP)

Step 2: The factor loadings and residual values obtained in Step 1 are entered into the place of the corresponding factor loading and residual error of the interaction item. A significant result means an interaction (see Fig. 8 ).

figure 8

It is a primary effect model of the relationship between PLT and VFT with RP.

Figure 8 shows a primary effect model of the relationship between the PLT and VFT and reading proficiency, by which all loading values and residual values of variables PLT and VFT are calculated.

All loading values and residual values of variables PLT and VFT are added into Ping’s single indicator interaction; we calculate the whole residual value and loading value, which are added to the location, as shown in Fig. 9 , in step 2 to verify that the interaction item and the dependent variable are significant (see Fig. 9 ).

figure 9

Based on the analysis result of Fig. 9 , we present the data in Table 7 .

In Table 7 , the p value of the MO is significant, indicating that vocabulary fluency moderates the correlation between productive vocabulary breadth and reading.

The moderating role of vocabulary fluency (PVDT vs. RP)

Step 2: The factor loadings and residual values obtained in Step 1 are entered into the place of the corresponding factor loading and residual error of the interaction item. A significant result means an interaction (see Fig. 10 ).

figure 10

It is a primary effect model of the relationship between PVDT and VFT with RP.

Figure 10 shows a primary effect model of the relationship between the PVDT and VFT and reading proficiency, by which all loading values and residual values of variables PVDT and VFT are calculated.

All loading values and residual values of variables PVDT and VFT are added into Ping’s single indicator interaction; we calculate the whole residual value and loading value, which are added to the location, as shown in Fig. 9 , in step 2 to verify that the interaction item and the dependent variable are significant (see Fig. 11 ).

figure 11

Based on the analysis result of Fig. 11 , the data in Table 8 can be obtained as follows.

In Table 8 , p  ≤ 0.001 means that an interaction exists, which indicates that vocabulary fluency moderates the relationship between productive lexicon depth and reading proficiency.

Turning to RQ3, is it more reasonable to use vocabulary fluency as an independent or moderator variable? We first consider vocabulary fluency as an independent variable, like the four dimensions of L2 lexical knowledge in Fig. 2 . Unfortunately, the standardized regression coefficient of vocabulary fluency with reading proficiency is a negative value with β  = −0.02, which indicates that vocabulary fluency does not have a significant effect. Hence, we further investigated whether vocabulary fluency alters the effect of the four dimensions of L2 vocabulary knowledge on reading proficiency by Ping’s Single Product Indication ( 1995 ), and we found that the interaction item and every dependent variable are significant. Therefore, it is advisable to administer vocabulary fluency as a moderator variable to affect the connection between L2 word knowledge and reading capability.

In this study, we ascertained the relationship between the four dimensions of L2 lexical knowledge and reading proficiency across Chinese university EFL learners, achieving several enlightening findings on the understanding, teaching, and learning of vocabulary knowledge.

The effectiveness of lexical knowledge on reading

Of the four dimensions of L2 word knowledge ascertained, the VDT correlated most strongly with L2 reading proficiency ( r  = 0.51, p  < 0.001). The correlation coefficient of receptive vocabulary breadth with L2 reading proficiency was r  = 0.48, p  < 0.001. The productive vocabulary breadth/reading and the productive vocabulary depth/reading were almost equal ( r  = 0.36, p  < 0.001). These results indicate that receptive vocabulary knowledge has a medium correlation with L2 reading. Productive vocabulary knowledge has a small correlation with L2 reading based on the criterion suggested by Plonsky and Oswald ( 2014 ) that a correlation coefficient close to r  = 0.25 is considered small, r  = 0.40 is medium, and r  = 0.60 is considered large. In contrast to the results of other researchers, Qian ( 2002 ) confirmed that the Pearson correlation between receptive vocabulary breadth and reading was r  = 0.74 and r  = 0.77 for receptive vocabulary depth/reading, and Stæhr ( 2008 ) found a stronger association with a reported Pearson correlation of 0.83 between receptive vocabulary breadth and reading. A probable interpretation for the large differences between these results may lie in the different measurement instruments used because the researchers adopted a recognition test format that may lead to blind guessing of words; thus, test takers may score higher than their actual levels (Kremmel and Schmitt, 2016 ; McLean et al., 2020 ). In addition, it may have collinearity if the Pearson correlation is >0.75.

Likewise, based on a meta-analysis, Jeon and Yamashita ( 2014 ) acknowledged that the mean correlation between vocabulary and reading was r  = 0.79; Zhang and Zhang ( 2020 ) obtained an average correlation between word knowledge and reading of r  = 0.57, with these vastly differing in the two meta-analyses because of the selection of different study samples. That is, most studies in the meta-analysis selected by Jeon and Yamashita probably used early vocabulary measurement instruments such as meaning-recognition tests (VLT) designed by Nation ( 1983 , 1990 ) and Schmitt et al. ( 2001 ), whereas Zhang and Zhang included both written meaning-recall tests and written meaning-recognition tests in their meta-analysis; therefore, the r  = 0.57 in Zhang and Zhang’s research may be more reliable. Furthermore, among the previous studies, only Cheng and Matthews ( 2018 ) found that productive vocabulary breadth had the strongest correlation with reading ( r  = 0.57), which is higher than our findings ( r  = 0.36); however, reading belongs to receptive language proficiency; thus, is it possible that receptive vocabulary knowledge is more effective? In addition to the Pearson correlation, for this study, we also analyzed the standardized regression coefficient, another key index, to investigate the importance of the independent variable for the dependent variable. In this study, receptive vocabulary knowledge was found to have a more critical effect on L2 reading in terms of β  = 0.38 for depth and β  = 0.33 for breadth in contrast to productive vocabulary knowledge covering PLT and PVDT with β  = 0.20 and β  = 0.19. That is, whether it is Pearson correlation or multiple regression, receptive lexical depth and breadth play important but moderate roles. Hence, we suggest that developing receptive vocabulary knowledge is the first learning task associated with successful L2 reading and accounting for two productive vocabulary dimensions. Only by objectively evaluating and balancing the learning of L2 vocabulary knowledge and other linguistic knowledge can Chinese college students make the most of their limited learning time, correctly understand the effect of L2 vocabulary knowledge on reading proficiency, rationally adjust the conflict between their needs, and inefficiency of effective vocabulary learning methods, respond positively and flexibly, and experience more extraordinary learning achievement and satisfaction.

The predictive value of vocabulary knowledge on reading

We demonstrated the value of lexicon knowledge in predicting reading proficiency because whole-word knowledge explained 49% of the variance in reading comprehension scores. Qian ( 2002 ) found that the average variance explanation of depth and breadth for reading is 56%. Additionally, receptive lexical breadth can explain 72% of the variance in L2 reading (Stæhr, 2008 ), and productive lexical breadth accounts for 33% (Cheng and Matthews, 2018 ). There are many reasons for different prediction values, but the most common reason may be different lexical measurement instruments, usually designed based on recognition tests. Since scores on the whole vocabulary knowledge can explain almost 50% of the variance in reading testing scores, we suggest that Chinese university students should focus on vocabulary learning in a balanced learning process. We suggest taking more time and energy to learn vocabulary than other linguistic knowledge because Chinese university students pay much more attention to grammar learning. The findings help clarify the predictive strength of L2 vocabulary knowledge for reading proficiency, deepening Chinese college students’ understanding of vocabulary learning from a comprehensive perspective.

The moderating role of vocabulary fluency

The third finding of this study is the moderating effect of vocabulary fluency on the link between L2 vocabulary knowledge and reading ability. To avoid a Type- I error, we first included vocabulary fluency as an independent variable in the main SEM to measure the respective effect of the five dimensions of L2 vocabulary knowledge on reading proficiency, which addressed a negative standardized regression coefficient with β  = −0.02 between vocabulary fluency and reading ability, that is, it is inappropriate for lexical fluency to enter the main model as an independent variable because it does not play an important role. In contrast, Li and Zhang ( 2019 ) found that among the three dimensions of lexical knowledge, vocabulary breadth/size has the most critical effect on L2 listening ( β  = 0.36), followed by β  = 0.17 for vocabulary depth and β  = −0.22 for vocabulary fluency. The authors concluded that all three dimensions of lexical knowledge significantly predicted L2 listening proficiency. Since β is negative, the dependent variable does not increase as the independent variable increases. However, the importance of vocabulary fluency is obvious; thus, it has the potential to take on other essential responsibilities.

Given that it was demonstrated inappropriate for vocabulary fluency to be included in the main structure model, we examined vocabulary fluency as a moderator variable of the effect of word knowledge on reading proficiency by the interaction effect. The results show that vocabulary fluency potentially moderates the relationship between L2 word knowledge and reading proficiency, which aligns with the view mentioned in the literature review that fluency is not a gift in the snow but icing on the cake. That is, the primary task of learners is to master receptive vocabulary knowledge and to develop it into productive vocabulary knowledge. In the process, from receptivity to productivity, they are more fluent and more proficient. Fluency, then, acts as a “lubricant” or “booster”.

We demonstrated that the four dimensions of L2 word knowledge correlate differently with IELTS reading scores and the moderation effect of vocabulary fluency. Our research findings affirmed the contribution of receptive vocabulary knowledge to the assessment of L2 reading with a medium correlation, especially receptive vocabulary depth. However, productive vocabulary knowledge was only slightly correlated with reading. Another contribution of our findings is that vocabulary fluency effectively accelerates the continuum process of vocabulary knowledge from receptivity to productivity.

First, the findings undoubtedly reflect the emphasis given to receptive lexical knowledge in evaluating L2 reading. Second, the findings also show the potential importance of overall vocabulary knowledge. Finally, our findings also address the critical role of vocabulary fluency used as a moderator variable. Some suggestions can be given to teachers and students for the teaching and learning of vocabulary knowledge. Teachers and students should selectively teach and learn vocabulary instead of attempting to utilize all the words in the word list of the textbook or dictionary; for example, receptive vocabulary depth and breadth should be prioritized. Furthermore, the various methods of acquiring vocabulary knowledge should be focused on by teachers and students, not only form-meaning links but also other aspects of knowledge of a word to command vocabulary knowledge effectively and use it in a communicative context. Additionally, much more attention should be given to vocabulary fluency development to improve reading proficiency based on the contribution of L2 vocabulary knowledge.

Through these findings, Chinese university students’ vocabulary learning experiences can be gradually enriched, self-evaluation of vocabulary learning can be constantly revised, and effective vocabulary learning methods can ultimately be achieved.

Of course, there are some inevitable limitations to this study that hinder its generalizability. First, although the large research sample was taken from students of six majors, the single-site study was relatively insufficient; therefore, multisite samples should be recruited in future research. Second, only three aspects are adopted, covering two kinds of word parts, one multiple meaning, and one collocation, involved in the receptive vocabulary depth test. In contrast to vocabulary depth, which should include all aspects of vocabulary knowledge, our test items were relatively inadequate. Future studies should consider other aspects of vocabulary depth to obtain a more precise picture of test takers’ depth of lexical knowledge based on the research purpose.

Data availability

The data generated during this study is included in this published article and its supplementary file.

Anderson RC, Freebody P (1981) Vocabulary knowledge. In: Guthrie JT (ed) Comprehension and teaching: research reviews. International Reading Association, Newark, DE, pp. 77–117

Cheng JY, Matthews J (2018) The relationship between three measures of L2 vocabulary knowledge and L2 listening and reading. Language Test 35(1):3–25. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265532216676851

Article   Google Scholar  

Cronbach LJ (1942) An analysis of techniques for diagnostic vocabulary testing. J Educ Res 36(3):206–217. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220671.1942.10881160

Fornell C, Larcker DF (1981) Evaluating structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error. J Mark Res 18(2):39–50. https://doi.org/10.2307/3151312

González-Fernández B, Schmitt N (2019) Word knowledge: exploring the relationships and order of acquisition of vocabulary knowledge components. Appl Linguist 41(4):481–505. https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amy057

Hair JT, Anderson RE, Tatham RL, Black WC (1997) Multivariate data analysis with readings, 3rd edn. Macmillan, New York

Henriksen B (1999) Three dimensions of vocabulary development. Stud Second Language Acquisition 21(2):303–317. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263199002089

Jeon EH, Yamashita J (2014) L2 reading comprehension and its correlates: a meta-analysis. Language Learn 64(1):160–212. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12034

Kremmel B, Schmitt N (2016) Interpreting vocabulary test scores: what do various item formats tell us about learners’ ability to employ words? Language Assess Q 13(4):377–392. https://doi.org/10.1080/15434303.2016.1237516

Laufer B, Goldstein Z (2004) Testing vocabulary knowledge: size, strength, and computer adaptiveness. Language Learn 54(3):399–436. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0023-8333.2004.00260.x

Laufer B, Nation P (1999) A vocabulary-size test of controlled productive ability. Language Test 16(1):33–51. https://doi.org/10.1177/026553229901600103

Li M, Kirby JR (2015) The Effects of Vocabulary Breadth and Depth on English Reading. Applied linguistics 1–25. https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amu007

Li Y, Zhang X (2019) L2 vocabulary knowledge and L2 listening comprehension: a structural equation model. Can J Appl Linguist Special Issue 22(1):85–102. https://doi.org/10.7202/1060907ar

Article   CAS   Google Scholar  

MacCallum RC, Browne MW, Sugawara HM (1996) Power analysis and determination of sample size for covariance structure modeling. Psychol Methods 1(2). https://doi.org/10.1037/1082-989x.1.2.130

Matthews J, Cheng J (2015) Recognition of high frequency words from speech as a predictor of L2 listening comprehension. System 52:1–13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2015.04.015

McLean S, Stewart J, Batty AO (2020) Predicting L2 reading proficiency with modalities of vocabulary knowledge: a bootstrapping approach. Language Testing 37(3):389–411. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265532219898380

Moinzadeh A, Moslehpour R (2012) Depth and breadth of vocabulary knowledge: which really matters in reading comprehension of Iranian EFL learners? J Language Teach Res 3(5):1015–1026. https://doi.org/10.4304/jltr.3.5.1015-1026

Nation ISP (1983) Testing and teaching vocabulary. Guidelines 5:12–25

Nation ISP (1990) Teaching and learning vocabulary. Newbury House Publishers

Nation ISP (2013) Learning vocabulary in another language, 2nd edn. Cambridge University Press

Nation P (2020) The different aspects of vocabulary knowledge. In: Webb S (ed.) The Routledge handbook of vocabulary studies. Routledge, pp. 15–29

Nation P, Beglar D (2007) A vocabulary size test. Language Teacher 31(7):9–13. https://doi.org/10.26686/wgtn.12552197.v1

Paribakht TS, Wesche MB (1993) Reading comprehension and second language development in a comprehension-based ESL program. TESL Can J 11(1):09–29. https://doi.org/10.18806/tesl.v11i1.623

Ping RA (1995) A Parsimonious Estimating Technique for Interaction and Quadratic Latent Variables. J Mark. Res 32(3):336–347. https://doi.org/10.1177/002224379503200308

Plonsky L, Oswald FL (2014) How big is “big”? Interpreting effect sizes in L2 research. Language Learn 64(4):878–912. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12079

Qian DD (2002) Investigating the relationship between vocabulary knowledge and academic reading performance: an assessment perspective. Language Learn 52(3):513–536. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9922.00193

Qian DD, Lin LH (2020) The relationship between vocabulary knowledge and language proficiency. In: Webb S (ed) The Routledge handbook of vocabulary studies. Routledge, pp. 66–80

Read J (1993) The development of a new measure of L2 vocabulary knowledge. Language Test 10(4):355–371. https://doi.org/10.1177/026553229301000308

Read J (1995) Refining the word associates format as a measure of depth of vocabulary knowledge. New Zealand Studies in Applied Linguistics 1:1–17

Read J (1998) Validating a test to measure depth of VK. In: Kunnan AJ (ed.) Validation in language assessment. Erlbaum, pp. 41–60

Read J (2000) Assessing vocabulary. Cambridge University Press

Schmitt N (2010) Researching vocabulary: a vocabulary research manual. Palgrave Macmillan, UK

Schmitt N (2014) Size and depth of vocabulary knowledge: what the research shows. Language Learn 64(4):913–951. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12077

Schmitt N, Schmitt D (2014) A reassessment of frequency and vocabulary size in L2 vocabulary teaching. Language Teach 47(4):484–503. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0261444812000018

Schmitt N, Schmitt D, Clapham C (2001) Developing and exploring the behaviour of two new versions of the Vocabulary Levels Test. Language Test 18(1):55–88. http://ltj.sagepub.com

Stæhr LS (2008) Vocabulary size and the skills of listening, reading and writing. Language Learn J 36(2):139–152. https://doi.org/10.1080/09571730802389975

Stewart J, Stoeckel T, McLean S, Nation P, Pinchbeck G (2021) What the research shows about written receptive vocabulary testing: a reply to Webb. Stud Second Language Acquisition 43(2):462–471. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263121000437

Stoeckel T, McLean S, Nation P (2021) Limitations of size and levels tests of written receptive vocabulary knowledge. Stud Second Language Acquisition 43(1):181–203. https://doi.org/10.1017/S027226312000025X

Wesche M, Paribakht TS (1996) Assessing second language vocabulary knowledge: depth versus breadth. Can Mod Language Rev 53(1):13–40. https://doi.org/10.3138/cmlr.53.1.13

Yanagisawa A, Webb S (2020) Measuring depth of vocabulary knowledge. In: Webb S (ed.) The Routledge handbook of vocabulary studies. Routledge, pp. 371–386

Zhang SS, Zhang X (2020) The relationship between vocabulary knowledge and L2 reading/listening comprehension: a meta-analysis. Language Teach Res 1–30 https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168820913998

Download references

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Fujian Provincial Social Science Western Support Project, China (FJ2023X021) and the Major Project of Ningde Normal University (2018ZDS04).

Author information

Authors and affiliations.

Language and Literacy Education Department, Faculty of Education, University of Malaya, 50603, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Yanli Tong, Zuwati Hasim & Huzaina Abdul Halim

School of Language and Culture, Ningde Normal University, 352100, Ningde, China

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Zuwati Hasim .

Ethics declarations

Competing interests.

The authors declare no competing interests.

Ethics approval

The author sought and gained ethical approval from the ethics committee of Malaya University (No. UM.TNC2/UMREC_2733) on June 27, 2023. All procedures in this study were in accordance with the institutional research and the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all the participants.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Rights and permissions.

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ .

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article.

Tong, Y., Hasim, Z. & Abdul Halim, H. The relationship between L2 vocabulary knowledge and reading proficiency: The moderating effects of vocabulary fluency. Humanit Soc Sci Commun 10 , 555 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-023-02058-2

Download citation

Received : 11 August 2022

Accepted : 24 August 2023

Published : 06 September 2023

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-023-02058-2

Share this article

Anyone you share the following link with will be able to read this content:

Sorry, a shareable link is not currently available for this article.

Provided by the Springer Nature SharedIt content-sharing initiative

Quick links

  • Explore articles by subject
  • Guide to authors
  • Editorial policies

literature review of vocabulary

Training videos   |   Faqs

Ref-n-Write: Scientific Research Paper Writing Software

Academic Phrases for Writing Literature Review Section of a Research Paper

Overview |   Abstract   | Introduction | Literature Review | Materials & Methods | Results & Discussion | Conclusion & Future Work | Acknowledgements & Appendix

The literature review should clearly demonstrate that the author has a good knowledge of the research area. Literature review typically occupies one or two passages in the introduction section. A well-written literature review should provide a critical appraisal of previous studies related to the current research area rather than a simple summary of prior works. The author shouldn’t shy away from pointing out the shortcomings of previous works. However, criticising other’s work without any basis can weaken your paper. This is a perfect place to coin your research question and justify the need for such a study. It is also worth pointing out towards the end of the review that your study is unique and there is no direct literature addressing this issue. Add a few sentences about the significance of your research and how this will add value to the body of knowledge.

The literature review section of your research paper should include the following:

  • Previous literature
  • Limitations of previous research
  • Research questions
  • Research to be explored

1. Previous literature

The literature review shows that __ Previous research showed __ Seminal contributions have been made by __ A series of recent studies has indicated that __ Several theories have been proposed to __, some focusing on __, others on __ There has been numerous studies to investigate __ This has been used in several studies to assess __ Previous studies have shown __ Several studies suggest that __ This has also been explored in prior studies by __ Prior research suggests that __ Previous studies have emphasized __ The majority of prior research has applied __ Most early studies as well as current work focus on __ For instance, the following studies were conducted on __ Studies of __are well documented, it is also well acknowledged that __ A number of authors have recognized __ Some authors have also suggested that  __ Some authors have driven the further development of __ This has been discussed by a great number of authors in literature. For example, research has provided evidence for __ The authors bring some information about the background of the problem, __ As has been previously reported in the literature, __ A large number of existing studies in the broader literature have examined __ The literature review shows that __ There exists a considerable body of literature on  __ In short, the literature pertaining to __ strongly suggests that __ Over time, an extensive literature has developed on __ This section presents a review of recent literature on __ This paper begins with a short review of the literature regarding the __ Several methods are reported in the literature to address this issue. There is a wide choice of __ available in the literature. This section reviews the literature related to __ It was reported in literature that __ A recent study by __ concluded that __ In the light of reported __ it is conceivable that __ The method introduced by __ has the advantage that __ One method employed by __ is __ A more comprehensive description can be found in __ For example, recent research suggests that __ This was successfully established as described by __ The author employed a __ methodology which prescribes the use of __

2. Limitations of previous research

A number of questions regarding __ remain to be addressed. A closer look to the literature on __, however, reveals a number of gaps and shortcomings. This question has previously never been addressed because__ Most studies have relied on __ Previous studies by __ cannot be considered as conclusive because __ Previous studies have almost exclusively focused on __ This has been previously assessed only to a very limited extent because __ In the present studies __ were constrained to __ In previous studies were limited to __ Although results appear consistent with prior research, they appear inconsistent with __ These are previously unstudied because __ As far as we know, no previous research has investigated __ Moreover, although research has illuminated __ no study to date has examined __ Despite decades of research, this continues to be debated among __ This section points out some of the problems encountered in the extant research. Although there are many studies, the research in __ remains limited. However, the existing research has many problems in representing __ The literature on __ is less consistent Historically, there has been a great deal of confusion in the literature regarding __ This approach remains briefly addressed in the literature. These are rarely analyzed in the literature as __ There are key questions and notions that are still not discussed in the literature __ This is not clearly presented in the literature because __ This paper addresses the need for __, so far lacking in the scientific literature. To fill this literature gap, this paper identifies __ Only a few works in literature demonstrate __ Although studies have been conducted by many authors, this problem is still insufficiently explored. To our knowledge, no prior studies have examined __ However, the existing research has many problems in __ Therefore, important issue in the literature is __ However, we argue that previous literature suffers from certain weaknesses: __ Previous research can only be considered a first step towards a more profound understanding of __ The previous studies reveal that __ are usually the most problematic to __

3. Research questions

More specific research questions will be introduced and investigated in __ A further question is whether __ Finally, another promising line of research would be __ The study addresses several further questions on __ Some of the interesting questions in this context are __ In order to address the questions outlined above, we report here __ These questions are of central interest as much recent research in __ Furthermore, __ is arguably an important question to be addressed. The question now is how __ can be used to explain __ Study addresses the research question __ In order to properly address this question, we __ An important question associated with __ is __ A critical open question is whether __ A still unsolved question is whether __ This remains an open question as __ This question has previously never been addressed because __ This study offers a test of __ research question Study addresses the research question __ Even in general __ research strategies is needed to explain __ The researcher should be interested here in __ Many questions remain unanswered __ There are some potentially open questions about the validity of __ The question that then naturally arises is __ The question then becomes how best to define__ This was an important question to study as __

4. Research to be explored

A more systematic and theoretical analysis is required for __ As the authors note earlier, more work is necessary to__ Additional studies to understand more completely the key tenets of __ are required. The unexpected findings signal the need for additional studies to understand more about __ This paper addresses __, so far lacking in the scientific literature. A new approach is therefore needed for __ One of the tough challenges for all researchers in this domain is __

Similar Posts

Useful Phrases and Sentences for Academic & Research Paper Writing

Useful Phrases and Sentences for Academic & Research Paper Writing

In this blog, we explain various sections of a research paper and give you an overview of what these sections should contain.

Academic Phrases for Writing Acknowledgements & Appendix Sections of a Research Paper

Academic Phrases for Writing Acknowledgements & Appendix Sections of a Research Paper

In this blog, we discuss phrases related to thanking colleagues, acknowledging funders and writing the appendix section.

How to Write a Research Paper? A Beginners Guide with Useful Academic Phrases

How to Write a Research Paper? A Beginners Guide with Useful Academic Phrases

This blog explains how to write a research paper and provides writing ideas in the form of academic phrases.

Academic Phrases for Writing Methods Section of a Research Paper

Academic Phrases for Writing Methods Section of a Research Paper

In this blog, we discuss phrases related to materials and methods such as experimental setup, data collection & analysis, and statistical testing.

Academic Phrases for Writing Abstract Section of a Research Paper

Academic Phrases for Writing Abstract Section of a Research Paper

In this blog, we discuss phrases related to the abstract section. An abstract is a self-contained and short synopsis that describes a larger work.

Academic Phrases for Writing Introduction Section of a Research Paper

Academic Phrases for Writing Introduction Section of a Research Paper

In this blog, we discuss phrases related to introduction section such as opening statement, problem definition and research aims.

26 Comments

this helps and appreciate it. !

Thank you so much. This is very helpful

thanks mate

I have read and appreciated the content,very useful and academically well outlined.

Thank you! It’s very helpful!

Thank you. I find this helpful.

Thanks. it is very helpful

can such phrases be tracked as plagiarism? if yes, then what is left for the researchers to put on their paper?

Very helpful..Thanks

Good on you

Very useful! With this, I will improve my writing style!

Thanks a lot. God bless you.

Very useful

Thank you for this site, it helps me a lot when writing my literature reviews for my Research Module

Valuable information, thank you.

l appreciate it. it is very helpfull academically

very very good propositions

Thanks! This is what I was looking for

really appreciate

how to purchase a premium version

Thank you Sir,

This is invaluable. I will study it closely and incorporate as per guidance.

Amazing contents and great help. Thank you!

Could I copy your free academic phrases handbook for my research? Thank you

Helpful, Thanks

Thank you for this great assistance

Veery Helpful

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

  • 0.1K Share Facebook
  • 68 Share Twitter
  • 83 Share LinkedIn
  • 0.1K Share Email

literature review of vocabulary

IMAGES

  1. Helping You In Writing A Literature Review Immaculately

    literature review of vocabulary

  2. (PDF) Strategies of Vocabulary Instruction in English Language Teaching

    literature review of vocabulary

  3. How To Write A Stellar Literature Review

    literature review of vocabulary

  4. Literary Terms Worksheets for Review & Practice

    literature review of vocabulary

  5. 39 Best Literature Review Examples (Guide & Samples)

    literature review of vocabulary

  6. 50 Smart Literature Review Templates (APA) ᐅ TemplateLab

    literature review of vocabulary

VIDEO

  1. How to teach English to your kids #wintervocabulary #spokenenglish #tubeenglish

  2. Literary Movements and Works: AP Spanish Literature Test Prep

  3. Literature Vocabulary Word " Fable " #literaryvocab#englishliterature #studylover

  4. How to write literature review perfectly

  5. Sources And Importance Of Literature Review(ENGLISH FOR RESEARCH PAPER WRITING)

  6. The content of the literature review

COMMENTS

  1. Full article: What's Up With Words? A Systematic Review of Designs

    This scoping systematic literature review provides a snapshot of research specifically exploring vocabulary development and instruction. Articles included in nine highly respected literacy journals from 2017 to 2021 revealed a sudden increase in the number of vocabulary focused research studies published, doubling and tripling in 2020 and 2021.

  2. Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension Revisited: Evidence for High-, Mid

    In the literature devoted to the relationship between vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension, we have seen the benefits of developing a relatively large total vocabulary size, but in fact the three different frequency levels (i.e., high, mid, and low) have been treated quite differently in language teaching (Schmitt & Schmitt, 2014 ...

  3. PDF Vocabulary Instruction: A Critical Analysis of Theories, Research ...

    1. Introduction. A well-developed vocabulary has long been recognized as essential for success in reading [1], and literature has repeatedly affirmed that vocabulary size is one of the strongest predictors of reading development [2-5]. Vocabulary can contribute to reading comprehension through multiple avenues.

  4. (PDF) THE TEACHING OF VOCABULARY: A PERSPECTIVE

    acquisition of vocabulary is essential for successful foreign language use and plays an. important role in the formation of complete spoken and written texts. Learning vocabulary. ite ms plays a ...

  5. (DOC) A literature review of vocabulary learning through web based

    A literature review of vocabulary learning through web based collaboration In a modern classroom language learning is not restricted to one pedagogical practise. One of the teaching strategies that can be used is Computer -Assisted Language Learning (CALL), which provides an interactive and sometimes collaborative method that can be applied ...

  6. (PDF) Vocabulary Instruction: A Critical Analysis of ...

    review of literature on vocabulary instruction by W right and Cervetti (2017), and found that they. corresponded with the original coding. Follow-up quantitative studies can use the salient theories.

  7. (PDF) Strategies of Vocabulary Instruction in English ...

    The results of the literature review highlight the positive effects of implementing DA in vocabulary acquisition despite the fact that the. Learning media is a vehicle and delivery of information ...

  8. PDF A review of vocabulary learning applications: From the aspects of ...

    this review, we aimed to (1) present a comprehensive picture of how apps may help students learn words, and (2) provide app developers with implementations for their future development and improvement of vocabulary learning products. 2. Literature review 2.1. Mobile apps for vocabulary learning

  9. Theoretical trends of research on technology and L2 vocabulary learning

    In the following section, we will review relevant literature on the key concepts in the current study: multiple dimensions of vocabulary knowledge, the affordance of technology, and major strands of theories guiding reading research. ... Learning theories and models such as Finally, in a systematic review of CALL for vocabulary instruction ...

  10. Expanding English Vocabulary Knowledge through Reading: Insights from

    Very few studies in the psycholinguistic literature were concerned with the learning of words and sequences while reading. At the same time, second language researchers interested in learning processes were mainly using off-line, post-reading measures to examine vocabulary learning from reading. ... 2009 for a review of all factors affecting ...

  11. How to Write a Literature Review

    Examples of literature reviews. Step 1 - Search for relevant literature. Step 2 - Evaluate and select sources. Step 3 - Identify themes, debates, and gaps. Step 4 - Outline your literature review's structure. Step 5 - Write your literature review.

  12. Vocabulary Studies in Primary Grades: A Review of the Literature

    Zentner, Randi, "Vocabulary Studies in Primary Grades: A Review of the Literature" (2016). Culminating Projects in Teacher Development. 15. This Starred Paper is brought to you for free and open access by the Department of Teacher Development at theRepository at St. Cloud State.

  13. Improving second language vocabulary learning and retention by

    Second, similar effects have been reported for each intervention alone in L2 word learning. Third, the learning and memory literature suggests that combining spacing and retrieval practice can further improve retention. Thus, our findings here build on the previous literature, and extend it to L2 vocabulary acquisition.

  14. Literature Review of the Breadth and Depth of Vocabulary

    Literature Review of the Breadth and Depth of Vocabulary. Dan Liu. Published in Journal of Language Teaching… 1 September 2018. Linguistics, Education. As the basic element of language, vocabulary is the cornerstone of language communication. However, the majority of English learners just remember vocabulary by rote-learning and could not put ...

  15. Effective Vocabulary Instruction Fosters Knowing Words, Using Words

    PurposeThis clinical focus article will highlight the importance of vocabulary instruction, ... The effects of morphological instruction on literacy skills: A systematic review of the literature. Review of Educational Research, 80(2), 144-179. Crossref Google Scholar. Carey, S. (1978). The child as word learner. ...

  16. Vocabulary Acquisition in EFL: A Literature Review of Innovative

    How can EFL teachers help their students acquire vocabulary effectively? This article reviews the literature on innovative vocabulary teaching strategies, such as using multimedia, games, and ...

  17. PDF Vocabulary Acquisition in EFL: A Literature Review of Innovative

    A Literature Review of Innovative Vocabulary Teaching Strategies Gede Sutrisna Universitas Dwijendra [email protected] Abstract In language learning, it is important for teachers to have in-depth consideration on the strategy of teaching vocabulary. It is advised to choose a strategy which brings lots of

  18. 17 strong academic phrases to write your literature review (+ real

    A well-written academic literature review not only builds upon existing knowledge and publications but also involves critical reflection, comparison, contrast, and identifying research gaps. The following 17 strong academic key phrases can assist you in writing a critical and reflective literature review. Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a

  19. PDF Literature Review of the Breadth and Depth of Vocabulary

    Literature Review of the Breadth and Depth of Vocabulary Dan Liu Sichuan University of Arts and Science, DaZhou, China Abstract—As the basic element of language, vocabulary is the cornerstone of language communication. However, the majority of English learners just remember vocabulary by rote-learning and could not put them

  20. PDF Common Terms used for Literature Reviews

    Common Terms used for Literature Reviews Writing a literature review can be challenging enough….but then on top of that, there is vocabulary associated with literature reviews that can be confusing! Let's see if we can help you to break these terms down. Theory: A group of ideas, definitions, or assumptions used to explain and support a study.

  21. The relationship between L2 vocabulary knowledge and reading ...

    The authors noted that receptive vocabulary forms the breadth and depth of a learner's vocabulary in the mental lexicon; receptive vocabulary breadth and depth knowledge must be further ...

  22. Academic Phrases for Writing Literature Review Section of a Research Paper

    In this blog, we discuss phrases related to literature review such as summary of previous literature, research gap and research questions. The literature review should clearly demonstrate that the author has a good knowledge of the research area. A well-written literature review should provide a critical appraisal of previous studies related to the current research area rather than a simple ...