The Effect of Reading Authentic Materials on Learners’ Vocabulary Acquisition

The Effect of Reading Authentic Materials
on Learners’ Vocabulary Acquisition

    In L1 acquisition, a great number of vocabulary words are gradually learned through reading exposures. In fact, in acquiring their L1, children are not aware that they are learning vocabulary because what they do is only reading for comprehension and for real purpose. They read different kinds of materials from school textbooks to story books with the aim of obtaining some knowledge, trivial information, or just for pleasure. In other words, L1 vocabulary is learned subconsciously and incidentally through reading without instructional intervention whatsoever.
    Noticing this phenomenon, proponents of natural approach in language teaching argues that L2 vocabulary should be learnt the same way in order to guarantee successful acquisition. Krashen (1989), for instance, indicates that reading programs are generally more effective than systematic vocabulary instruction using decontextualized exercises. The reason is that reading comprehension requires cognitive processing of unfamiliar words, which will help the internalization of new knowledge about those words, with deeper processing leading to more acquisition (Paribacht and Wesche, 1997). What is more, instructional vocabulary exercises are not sufficient for internalization of all the lexico-semantic-syntactic features and relationship that underlie accurate production in the L2 (Lyster, 1990; Swain, 1988, cited in Paribacht and Wesche, 1997).
    Concerning the reading materials, the use of authentic texts has been greatly encouraged since they enable learners to cope with the same kinds of reading that are encountered by native speakers of the target language (Ur, 1991). They also make the purpose for reading real in a way that no modified texts can (Aebersold and Field, 1997). Thus, authentic texts facilitate real-life reading purpose highly needed in acquisition process.
    Several researchers have indeed...