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1.1        Background to the Study

Vocabulary development has been one of the important areas of language study that continuously poses problems to second language (L2) learners of English, for over three decades (1987– 2017). English as a Second Language learners at Junior Secondary (JS II)do not have adequate vocabulary to make expression in the right context. This is because the words that are exposed to them are in isolation and or in wrong context (National Reading Panel, 2000). According to National Reading Panel (2000), Vocabulary development is an important aspect in language learning that contributes to comprehension and fluency in expression.

Wallace, (2008) opines that learners who know the meaning of many words understand more than those who do not. They also use the understanding in acquiring new vocabulary. One way to support “struggling readers”, i.e English L2 learners with insufficient vocabulary is to develop strategy (ies) for deriving the meaning of unknown words (U.W). This can be achieved through one of the techniques of vocabulary development known as context clue. Unfortunately, most L2 learners of English, particularly at J.S II, do not have techniques for identification of meanings of vocabulary in context (Bishop, Reyes & Pflaum, 2006). English as L2 can make learners lose interest in reading when they lack what Goerss (2018) calls “automatic decoding skill” to unlock meanings of difficult words. The scholar states that, for learners to understand the meaning of vocabulary in context, that context must be made available to the learners. The learners must be allowed to read the words within that context and or interact with the speaker by putting those words into the right context.

 Thus, context clues can help students to interact with a text and derive the meaning of unknown words. Context clues assist readers to identify words quickly and effortlessly, relate what they read to their experience, predict and skim the text for main ideas (Bishop, et – al, 2006). Therefore, this study tried to investigate how effective the exposure to context clues would be, as a technique in developing students’ vocabulary, particularly at JS II. Most of the techniques for vocabulary development at J. S II, in the present decade (2007 – 2017) expose words in isolation to students (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2018). This results in the teacher’s inability to produce students with required vocabulary of about 3000 words at this level (J.S II) as suggested by Nation (2011). Therefore the study would come up with updated techniques such as context clues for vocabulary development in context. Olaofe (2013) believes that the approach that is not only learner – centred but also learning facilitative is the best. The vocabulary teaching technique must be appropriate to the learners’ current needs. The approach must be appropriate to the level, age, background, period of learning and the learning goals. The technique should meet context needs of the vocabulary learning situation.

Locally, vocabulary instruction must be supported with relevant techniques to help English language teachers within the classroom to teach vocabulary in context. Nationally, English in Nigeria is dominantly taught as second language. The teaching of vocabulary in English as an L2 must be supported with a study of this nature. This is justified by Olaofe (2013) that the approach or technique should agree with the multilingual and multi – cultural settings in which the language is taught. This facilitates vocabulary development in context for teachers and students. Internationally, when professional teachers are trained effectively in this field of vocabulary development in context from every country, they will be accepted worldwide. The inspirations for the study are:

  1. Whenever the learners (at J.S II) come across unfamiliar words many times in

reading, they feel discouraged and lose interest in that reading.

  1. Students rely heavily on their teachers to explain the meaning of unfamiliar words for them.
  2. Most teachers lack strategies for teaching vocabulary in context, thus, end up teaching

the items in isolation.

  1. Many students can not generate more than one meaning out of a word, when used in different contexts, because the words are exposed to students out of context. The challenge for teachers and learners was not only how to develop vocabulary, but also how to develop the vocabulary in context. The positive outcome obtained from the study would assist teachers to teach vocabulary in context. It will also assist learners to identify and use vocabulary in the right context without too much domination of teaching and learning process by the teacher.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Vocabulary development is an important aspect that helps in language learning especially when the required numbers of words are presented to students in the right context. Ebbers (2005) suggests that learners need enough words in context to develop vocabulary, at least 3000 words in a year (J. S II), but they don’t know enough words to read well. Unfortunately, most students at J. S. II don’t have sufficient vocabulary, they merely memorise words in isolation, without knowing how to put words in proper context. Most teachers of English as L2 do not have appropriate techniques for teaching vocabulary in a way that students can learn the items in the right context. The teachers teach the vocabulary items in isolation from the context, and the learners on their part memorise the words in isolation. This makes students passive recipients, unable to understand the various polysemous contexts a single word can appear. The students also struggle with reading because they can not figure out the meaning of unknown words without too much relying on their teachers. Also, when students fail to derive meaning through dictionary and verbal explanation from their teachers, they finally lose interest in vocabulary development. At the end, the students do not graduate with required number of words of about 4000 in a year as suggested by Flanigan & Greenwood (2007).This calls for academic research in this area to address the issue properly.

1.3 Purpose of the Study 

 The major aim of the study was to find out the effect of context clues on vocabulary development of J.S. II students. The specific objectives this study tried to achieve were to:

  1. To determine the differences in the pretest performance of students in writing who were exposed to reading comprehension and those who were not exposed to it.
  2. To examine the differences in the posttest performance of students in writing who were exposed to reading comprehension and those who were not exposed to it.
  3. To examine how effective reading comprehension is on narrative essay writing.

1.4. Research Questions

The following research questions were raised to guide the study:

  1. What are the differences in the pretest performance of students in writing who were exposed to reading comprehension and those who were not exposed to it?
  2. What are the differences in the posttest performance of students in writing who were exposed to reading comprehension and those who were not exposed to it?
  3. How effective is reading comprehension on narrative essay writing?

1.5. Research Hypothesis

The following research hypotheses was postulated:

H0: There are no significant differences in the performance of students in writing who were exposed to reading comprehension and those who were not exposed to it.

1.6 Significance of the Study 

           The study would be very significant to students especially at Junior Secondary II. The work would assist in addressing the problems of teaching vocabulary in the right context. Junior Secondary II students would find the work useful, because they need to be equipped with techniques of learning vocabulary in context. Those techniques would assist them to develop and apply vocabulary in context without always looking for dictionary or too much reliance on teachers for word meaning. Again, most English L2 teachers in Nigeria lack adequate techniques of teaching vocabulary in context (National Reading Panel, 2000). As a result, teachers end up teaching words through word – list, force learners to memorize words in isolation, which students fail to remember after a while. The teachers, therefore, would use this research result to enhance their pedagogical skills as professional.

English language curriculum planners, by using this research, can develop vocabulary teaching curriculum that is context – based, modernize the existing techniques that are already available. English language textbook authors will be assisted on writing textbooks with context clues that help students to develop their vocabulary easily. Linking vocabulary with context clues in text books can simplify the text and the task of reading. The students can read the English language text books without writers clarification, and for this, the writing can achieve wider audience. Educational test and measurement experts will ensure that the test is constructed in a way the vocabulary teaching is carried out in context. This research is capable of guiding Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council to identify techniques that are in line with current English L2 teaching and learning situations. The study will benefit the general public because it was carried out in line with the Nigerian Sociolinguistic background. This is by considering distinct vocabulary features of English that can be understood in our social setting.

1.7        Scope and Delimitation 

 The study was limited to the students of public J.S II in Pankshin Educational Zone, Plateau State. Senior Secondary Schools were excluded because the students selected were from J.S. II. The variables covered were the use of context clues and vocabulary development of J.S II students, so that the topic under study would be deeply investigated.




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