Macquarie University
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Interpreting the meaning of visually contextualised lexis in ELT coursebooks: cultural considerations for Japanese learners : pilot study

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posted on 2022-03-28, 14:59 authored by Johannes C Razenberg
This dissertation - a pilot study to see whether or not there are grounds for a large scale empirical study - focuses on cultural considerations relating to adult Japanese EFL learners interpreting the meaning of new visually contextualised lexis in generic EFL coursebooks. Making the meaning of target lexis, referring to vocabulary and grammatical structures, in other words, lexicogrammar, comprehensible is a recognised pedagogical function of visuals. The meaning of foreign lexis may well be incomprehensible in cases where visuals found in coursebooks are as foreign as the language for which their purpose is to contextualise. Therefore, the aim of this pilot study was to discover whether having visuals familiar to the cultural background making up the adult Japanese EFL learner's knowledge better contextualises English lexis. The objectives were to: (1) test whether the interpretation of the meaning of visually contextualised lexis is better when visuals are familiar to the cultural background of the learner compared to when foreign visuals are used to contextualise lexis; and (2) trial a pilot study to become more informed as to what would be required to conduct a large scale empirical study and to determine if there would appear to be grounds for such a study. Two intermediate Japanese EFL learners volunteered for the pilot study. A qualitative approach in the form of a highly structured interview was chosen to check a participant's interpretation of the meaning of new vocabulary from visual tests. 20 words and 10 visuals were selected from commercially available coursebooks in Japan. The remainder 10 visuals were replaced with culturally familiar visuals. Results were collected from both tests and compared to see how each participant scored in the foreign visuals and culturally familiar visuals on the two tests and overall to see if a pattern of higher scores emerged. The results of the emergent pattern showed that participants correctly identified the target lexical item in 55% of cases when using foreign visuals and that there was no error when using culturally familiar visuals. The findings indicate grounds for conducting a large scale empirical study.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Literature review -- Research methodology -- Data analysis and interpretation -- Discussion, summary and conclusions.


Bibliography: p. 37-41 Australiasian Digital Theses Program Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Applied Linguistics (TESOL), Macquarie University, Division of Linguistics and Psychology, Dept. of Linguistics, 2007.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis masters coursework


Thesis (MAppLing(TESOL)), Macquarie University, Division of Linguistics and Psychology, Dept. of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Peter Roger


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Johannes C. Razenberg 2007.






vi, 41 p. ill

Former Identifiers

mq:14841 1538347