Assessing roles of vocabulary knowledge predominating in contextual clues

Patcharawadee Promduang

International Business English Department, Didyasarin International College

Hatyai University, Songkhla, Thailand

Reference to this paper should be made as follows:

Promduang, P. (2016). Assessing roles of vocabulary knowledge predominating in contextual clues.  Asian International Journal of Social Sciences, 16(3), 57 – 74.


The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between vocabulary knowledge and the use of contextual clues whether EFL learners who are well-equipped with reading skills are able to comprehend the text despite low level of vocabulary knowledge. If so, the study have more focus on which vocabulary dimensions, depth or breadth, help students to guess unfamiliar words. The study was carried out at Hatyai University in Thailand. The population of this study consist of 34 undergraduates who were studying in International Business English and have taken a course for reading technique. The present study was conducted to conceptually validate the roles of breadth and depth of vocabulary knowledge to improve skill of contextual clue. Vocabulary Depth was specially employed to evaluate two dimensions namely Paradigmatic and Syntagmatic. Schmitt and Clapham (2001) Vocabulary Level Test was used to test vocabulary breadth, while the vocabulary depth implemented Read’s (1993) Vocabulary Depth Test. Reading part of TOEFL were adopted only the items of contextual clues. There were two statistical analysis tools implemented in this study: paired-sample t-test and bivariate correlation. First, in an attempt to find which vocabulary dimension predominates in guessing word meaning from the text, paired-sample t-test was utilized to compare the difference of two vocabulary dimensions in reading part: vocabulary depth and contextual clues, and vocabulary breadth and contextual clues. Second, bivariate correlation was used to find the degree of relationship between vocabulary knowledge and contextual clues. The consequences of this study identified empirical results that 1) there was a positive relationship between contextual clues and vocabulary depth, the reverse is true in vocabulary breadth. Moreover, vocabulary depth are more significantly crucial than breadth to enhance student’s ability to guess words’ meaning from the context.

Keywords: Vocabulary depth, Vocabulary breadth, Contextual clues, Paradigmatic, Syntagmatic