The purpose of this paper is to report on one high school English‐language‐learner's (ELL) breadth and depth of vocabulary as he communicated with his teacher through e‐mail across geographic boundaries for over 18 months.
The authors began by separating 358 e‐mails into three time periods (first beginning, second middle, and third end) to calculate breadth using lexical density (type‐token ratios). Then, we sampled e‐mails based on personal and impersonal topics within these time periods and linguistically analyzed them for lexical cohesion, semantic usage, and derivational morphology. Interviews with participants before and after the analysis served as member checks.
The quantitative results showed a steady improvement in the breadth of the student's vocabulary over time. Qualitative analyses revealed four major uses of vocabulary within the context of e‐mail and the teacher‐student relationship.
Given our findings, we offer educators insights into ELL strategies and vocabulary assessment, not only with e‐mail but in all written communication.
A social writing tool like e‐mail can be useful for learning English in a safe, non‐threatening environment. Moreover, a trusting social relationship between communicators that develops over time can expedite the language learning process.
Very few studies have looked at the strategic ways ELL students use vocabulary to learn English through e‐mailing.
Hwang, S., Piazza, C., Pierce, M. and Bryce, S. (2011), "“My heart want to say something”: exploring ELL vocabulary use through e‐mail", Multicultural Education & Technology Journal, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 19-38. https://doi.org/10.1108/17504971111121900Download as .RIS
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