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Volume 6 Number 3, Autumn 2009, Pages 1-401   

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Phrasal Verbs and Breadth of Vocabulary Knowledge in Second Language Reading: An Exploratory Study

    Hung-chun Wang

This study explores whether the presence of phrasal verbs in reading texts affects the reading recalls of EFL learners, and whether having a large vocabulary size assists learners' reading recall of a text with frequent occurring of phrasal verbs. Forty-five university students from North Taiwan were invited to participate in the present study. Three major instruments were used: the Vocabulary Levels Test, two reading passages, and a reading recall measure. The study was conducted over two consecutive weeks, with these three instruments of data collection implemented separately. Results indicated that the occurrence of phrasal verbs significantly hindered readers' recall of the proposition units containing phrasal verbs, while it did not impact the recall of those units not containing phrasal verbs. This study's second line of inquiry revealed that having increased vocabulary size did not guarantee higher competence as regards coping with phrasal verbs in reading. These findings were further extended to provide some pedagogical recommendations regarding the teaching of phrasal verbs in EFL contexts.

Keywords: breadth of vocabulary knowledge, phrasal verb, reading recall, vocabulary size