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  • Background to the Study

Successful second language learning has been a great concern of applied linguists. It is believed that words are the heart of any language which makes the process of learning easier. Aitchison (2009) found words as a tool of thought, and one will often find that he is thinking inappropriately because he is using the wrong tool. According to Rivers (2003), the acquisition of an adequate vocabulary is essential for successful second language use. This is because without an extensive vocabulary one will be unable to use the structures and functions he/she may have learned for comprehensible communication. Laufer (2007) has the same opinion with Rivers about vocabularies that comprehension cannot be achieved, unless there is an understanding of text’s words. Therefore, vocabularies as the indispensible components of language have always received a great attention.

Vocabulary as a major component of language learning has been the object of numerous studies each of which has its own contribution to the field. Laufer (2007) states that vocabulary learning is at the heart of language learning and language use. In fact, it is what makes the essence of a language. Vocabulary learning is an intrinsic part of language teaching. A number of researchers agree that there is very little research carried out in the field of vocabulary learning (Hunt & Beglar, 2005) and that the most effective means of vocabulary learning is still unclear (Groot, 2006). Vocabulary is one of the important elements in teaching English (Hatch & Brown, 2005: 1).

Despite the importance of vocabulary development for effective acquisition of a second language, there are plethora of problems hindering students from acquiring adequate vocabularies. These problems range from mother tongue interference, teaching methods, inadequate use of instructional materials, large class size, etc. Those problems of vocabulary must be solved, because it can create difficulties for the students to continue the next level. Also, the students may have low motivation in learning English because they feel English is difficult. Furthermore, the students will have boredom in English class. On of the ways in which this study seeks to solve these problems is in the use of adequate instructional material flash cards. Flashcards may help students to facilitate them to improve their vocabulary, it is used as a personal dictionary for every student that can be as medium to improve their vocabulary, it is also easy to create, to bring and also can be instrument to play game. This learning strategy is expected make the students more active in English class, motivated and enjoy in learning English.

According to Cross (2001), flashcard is a simple picture on a piece of card or paper, which is probably the most widely used visual aids in language teaching. It means that flashcard is one of media which can help the teacher to teaching English easily. Flash cards in teaching vocabulary are very simple visual aids and the teacher can make the students more active during the teaching learning process. Flashcards are some kinds of media that can be used by the teacher in the classroom. They can increase their span of attention and concentration to study new words in English. According to Haycraft (2008: 102), flashcards can be used for consolidating vocabulary, practicing structure and words order or a variety of games. The use of flashcards is related to the characteristics of elementary school students as children who commonly feel interested in something with attractive shapes and colour. According to Din and Wienke (2001) the flash card use approach is an effective training and learning method for high school teachers and students in chemistry study and also flash cards can be used to effectively help teachers teach, students learn and comprehend chemistry vocabulary.

A flashcard is a set of card-based instruction bearing information, as words or numbers, on either or both sides, used in classroom drills or in private study. One writes a question on a card and an answer overleaf. Flashcard-based instruction can bear vocabulary, historical dates, formulas or any subject matter that can be learned via a question-and-answer format. Flashcard-based instruction is widely used as a learning drill to aid memorization by way of spaced repetition. According to Brown (2000), one main advantage of flash card-based instruction is that, they can be taken almost anywhere and studied whenever one wants.

As it was discussed earlier, lack of needed vocabulary is found to be the main cause of learner’s inability in communication activities. According to Celce-Murcia (2001), one effective way to help learners in communication is to increase their vocabulary knowledge. Also, Chastain (2008) stated that, vocabulary usually plays a greater role in communication than the other components of language. And many other scholars like Laufer (2007), believe that lexical problem, hinder successful comprehension. Hence, because of this importance this study seeks to investigate the effects of flash cards in teaching vocabulary to Senior Secondary School students in Langtang North Local Government Area of Plateau State.

  • Statement of the Problem

Although vocabulary has been the subject of many studies, few researches have revealed the effective techniques of vocabulary teaching. So it is of prime importance to attempt to find the most effective technique of vocabulary teaching. According to Allen(2003), all experienced language teachers confirm the important role of words and know that the lack of them leads to feeling of insecurity.

Vocabulary is an inseparable part of any language learning process. It would be impossible to learn a language without vocabulary. The important role of vocabulary has been emphasized in all different methods in language teaching. Vocabulary cannot be taught. It can be presented, explained, included in all kinds of activities, but it must be learned by the individual. According to Rahimi and Sahragard (2008), learning a foreign or second language at intermediate and advanced levels of proficiency involves the acquisition of thousands of words. Language learners look for effective ways to increase opportunities for retaining new words in long-term memory, but forgetting is a common problem. Language learners often complain that they forget new words soon after learning them. The importance of vocabulary learning also poses some challenges for teachers. They like to know in what ways instructional programs might foster the acquisition of so many words. Therefore, it is this issue that has interested the researcher to carry out an investigation into the use of flash cards in teaching vocabulary to Senior secondary school students two (SS 2) in Langtang North Local Government Area of Plateau State.

1.3.  Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to find out the effect of using flash cards in teaching vocabulary in Senior secondary schools two (SS 2) in Langtang North Local Government Area of Plateau State.

Other specific objectives of the study are:

  1. To determine the performance of students taught vocabulary with the use of flash cards.
  2. To evaluate the performance of students who are not exposed to the use of flash cards.
  3. To find out the difference in the performance of students who are exposed to vocabulary through flash cards and those who are not exposed to it.

1.4. Research Questions

The following questions guided the research:

  1. What is the performance of students taught vocabulary with the use of flash cards?
  2. What is the performance of students who are not exposed to the use of flash cards?
  3. What is the difference in the performance of students who are exposed to vocabulary through flash cards and those who are not exposed to it?

1.5. Significance of the Study

The study hopes to be significant to students since it is expected to expose them to the benefits of extensive reading programme for vocabulary acquisition from different materials written in the English language. Apart from that, it is also expected to create awareness to the general public on gains of reading extensively for knowledge acquisition. The study hopes to be significant to teachers of the English language and the ministry of education for effective plan of curriculum reading in English.

Exposing students to extensive reading would be of help in moving their reading ability from frustration to independent level, instead of turning to a dictionary for meaning of every difficult word they can gain the meaning of such word from the contextual clue. The research would definitely assist students to develop their vocabulary skills by reaching the level of automatic word recognition through extensive reading of different materials in English.

On the side of the English language teachers, it would help them in developing the use of flash cards and help in improving students’ vocabulary development. These are expected to make teaching and learning of the English language in the Senior secondary schools easier.

Additionally, the Ministry of Education, Plateau State Government would find the research useful because it would give an insight on how to improve the language performance of students by making available relevant books and materials in school libraries so as to give students ample opportunity to read wide and improve on their vocabularies.

1.6. Scope of the Study

This study covers the use of flash cards in teaching vocabulary to Senior secondary school two (SS 2) students. The study will include only the Senior secondary school students in Langtang North Local Government Area of Plateau state because the assumption was that they were already in Senior secondary level a year ahead of SS I and more mature in terms of reading of different materials in English. Not only that, the SS III students on the other hand may not have time due to their preparation for their Senior secondary school certificate examinations. As such, the performance of the SS II students in English was adequately assessed particularly at the level of word registers of politics using cloze test. Hence, the need to acquire enough vocabulary to express themselves in different contexts was required from them. However, despite the fact that the study is restricted to the selected local government, its findings will be generalized to other parts of the state and the country at large.


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