Volume 33, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0155-0640
  • E-ISSN: 1833-7139


This study examines the effect of contextual clues on the use of strategies (inferencing and ignoring) and knowledge sources (semantics, morphology, world knowledge, and others) for processing unfamiliar words in listening comprehension. Three types of words were investigated: words with local co-text clues, global co-text clues and extra-textual clues. Data were collected from 20 participants using the procedures of immediate retrospection without recall support and of stimulated recall. The results indicate that contextual clues are an important factor in learners’ treatment of unfamiliar words in listening comprehension. Contrary to what some theories of inference generation predict, this study reveals that learners use the inferencing strategy more frequently for words with global co-text clues and words with extratextual clues than for words with local co-text clues. In terms of the use of knowledge sources for inferring word meaning, the learners in this study use the knowledge sources in accordance with the different types of contextual clues.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Buck, Gary
    (2001) Assessing Listening. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511732959
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511732959 [Google Scholar]
  2. Cai, Wei
    (2003) Investigating the processing of unfamiliar words in second language listening comprehension. Ph.D. thesis, National University of Singapore, Singapore.
  3. Danks, Joseph and End, Laurel
    (1987) Processing strategies for reading and listening. In R. Horowitz & S. S. Jay , (Eds), Comprehending oral and written language. New York: Academic Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. de Bot, Kees ; Paribakht, Sima T. and Wesche, Marjorie Bingham
    (1997) Towards a lexical processing model for the study of second language vocabulary acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 19 (3), 309–329. doi: 10.1017/S0272263197003021
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263197003021 [Google Scholar]
  5. Dubin, Fraida and Olshtain, Elite
    (1993) Predicting word meanings from contextual clues: Evidence from L1 readers. In T. Huckin , M. Haynes & J. Coady (Eds), Second language reading and vocabulary learning. Norwood: Ablex.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Ericsson, Anders K. and Simon, Herbert
    (1993) Protocol analysis: verbal reports as data. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Field, John
    (1998) Skills and strategies: Towards a new methodology for listening. ELT Journal, 52 (2): 110–118. doi: 10.1093/elt/52.2.110
    https://doi.org/10.1093/elt/52.2.110 [Google Scholar]
  8. (2003) Psycholinguistics: a resource book for students. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Gass, Susan and Mackey, Alison
    (2000) Stimulated recall methodology in second language research. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Goh, Christine
    (1997) Metacognitive awareness and second language listeners. ELT Journal, 51 (4), 361–369. doi: 10.1093/elt/51.4.361
    https://doi.org/10.1093/elt/51.4.361 [Google Scholar]
  11. (1998) Strategic processing and metacognition in second language listening, Ph.D. thesis, Lancaster University, Lancaster.
  12. (2002) Exploring listening comprehension tactics and their interaction patterns. System, 30 (2), 185–206. doi: 10.1016/S0346‑251X(02)00004‑0
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0346-251X(02)00004-0 [Google Scholar]
  13. Graesser, Arthur ; Singer, Murray and Trabasso, Tom
    (1994) Constructing inferences during narrative text comprehension. Psychological Review, 101 (3), 371–395. doi: 10.1037/0033‑295X.101.3.371
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.101.3.371 [Google Scholar]
  14. Haastrup, Kirsten
    (1991) Lexical inferencing procedures or talking about words. Tubingen: Gunter Narr.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Halliday, M. A. K. and Hasan, Ruqaiya
    (1976) Cohesion in English. London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Hamada, Megumi
    (2009) Development of L2 word-meaning inference while reading. System, 37 (3), 447–460. doi: 10.1016/j.system.2009.03.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2009.03.003 [Google Scholar]
  17. Haynes, Margot
    (1993) Patterns and perils of guessing in second language reading. In T. Huckin , M. Haynes & J. Coady (Eds), Second language reading and vocabulary learning. Norwood: Ablex.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Huckin, Thomas and Bloch, Joel
    (1993) ‘Strategies for inferring word-meanings in context: A cognitive model’. In T. Huckin , M. Haynes & J. Coady (Eds), Second language reading and vocabulary learning. Norwood: Ablex.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Hughes, David
    (1996, April 6) Waiting for the sky to fall. New Scientist, pp.42–43.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Kaivanpanah, Shiva and Alavi, Sayyed Mohammad
    (2008) The role of linguistic knowledge in word-meaning inferencing. System, 36 (2), 172–195. doi: 10.1016/j.system.2007.10.006
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2007.10.006 [Google Scholar]
  21. Li, Xiaolong
    (1988) Effects of contextual clues on inferring and remembering meanings of new words. Applied Linguistics, 9 (4), 402–413. doi: 10.1093/applin/9.4.402
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/9.4.402 [Google Scholar]
  22. Lyle, John
    (2003) Stimulated recall: A report on its use in naturalistic research. British Educational Research Journal, 29 (6), 861–878.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. McKoon, Gail and Ratcliff, Roger
    (1992) Inference during reading. Psychological Review, 99 (3), 440–466. doi: 10.1037/0033‑295X.99.3.440
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.99.3.440 [Google Scholar]
  24. Nassaji, Hossein
    (2002) Schema theory and knowledge-based processes in second language reading comprehension: A need for alternative perspectives. Language Learning, 52 (2), 439–481. doi: 10.1111/0023‑8333.00189
    https://doi.org/10.1111/0023-8333.00189 [Google Scholar]
  25. (2003) L2 vocabulary learning from context: strategies, knowledge sources, and their relationship with success in L2 lexical inferencing. TESOL Quarterly, 37(4), 645–670. doi: 10.2307/3588216
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3588216 [Google Scholar]
  26. Nation, I. S. P.
    (2001) Learning vocabulary in another language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9781139524759
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139524759 [Google Scholar]
  27. O’Malley, J. Michael ; Chamot, Anna Uhl ; Kupper, Lisa
    (1989) Listening comprehension strategies in second language acquisition. Applied Linguistics, 10 (4), 418–437. doi: 10.1093/applin/10.4.418
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/10.4.418 [Google Scholar]
  28. O’Malley, Michael J. and Chamot, Anna Uhl
    (1990) Learning strategies in second language acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9781139524490
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139524490 [Google Scholar]
  29. Oxford, Rebecca
    (1990) Language learning strategies: what every teacher should know. New York: Newbury House Publishers.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Paribakht, Sima T. and Wesche, Marjorie
    (1999) Reading and incidental L2 vocabulary acquisition: An introspective study of lexical inferencing. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 21 (2), 195–224. doi: 10.1017/S027226319900203X
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S027226319900203X [Google Scholar]
  31. Ponte, Lowell
    (1992, May) Fires of destruction and creation. Readers’ Digest, pp.34–39.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Richards, Jack
    (1983) Listening comprehension: Approach, design, procedure. TESOL Quarterly, 17 (2), 219–240. doi: 10.2307/3586651
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3586651 [Google Scholar]
  33. Rieder, Angelika
    (2003) A cognitive view of incidental vocabulary acquisition: From text meaning to word meaning. Vienna English Working Papers, 12 (1), 53–71.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Ross, Steven
    (1997) ‘An introspective analysis of listener inferencing on a second language listening test’. In G. Kasper and E. Kellerman , (Eds), Communication strategies: psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic perspectives. London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Rost, Michael
    (1990) Listening in language learning. London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Rost, Michael and Ross, Steven
    (1991) Learner use of strategies in interaction: Typology and teachability. Language Learning, 41 (2), 235–273. doi: 10.1111/j.1467‑1770.1991.tb00685.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-1770.1991.tb00685.x [Google Scholar]
  37. Sanders, Ted ; Spooren, Wilbert ; Noordman, Leo
    (1992) Towards a taxonomy of coherence relations. Discourse Processes, 15 (1), 1–35. doi: 10.1080/01638539209544800
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01638539209544800 [Google Scholar]
  38. Schmidt, Richard
    (1990) The role of consciousness in second language learning. Applied Linguistics, 11 (2), 129–158. doi: 10.1093/applin/11.2.129
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/11.2.129 [Google Scholar]
  39. Shohamy, Elana ; Inbar, Ofra
    (1991) Validation of listening comprehension tests: The effect of text and question type. Language Testing, 8 (1), 23–40. doi: 10.1177/026553229100800103
    https://doi.org/10.1177/026553229100800103 [Google Scholar]
  40. SPSS Inc.
    SPSS Inc. (1999) SPSS Base 10.0 Applications Guide. ISBN#0-13-017901-9.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Stewart, Doug
    (1995, May) Do fish sleep?Readers’ Digest, pp.77–80.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Tauroza, Steve and Allison, Desmond
    (1990) Speech rates in British English. Applied Linguistics, 11 (1), 90–105. doi: 10.1093/applin/11.1.90
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/11.1.90 [Google Scholar]
  43. Tomlin, Russell and Villa, Victor
    (1994) Attention in cognitive science and second language acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition. 16 (2), 183–203. doi: 10.1017/S0272263100012870
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263100012870 [Google Scholar]
  44. Tsui, Amy and Fullilove, John
    (1998) Bottom-up or Top-down processing as a discriminator of L2 listening performance. Applied Linguistics, 19 (4), 432–451. doi: 10.1093/applin/19.4.432
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/19.4.432 [Google Scholar]
  45. van den Broek, Paul
    (1994) Comprehension and memory of narrative texts: Inferences and coherence. In M.A. Gernsbacher (Ed.), Handbook of psycholinguistics. San Diego: Academic Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Vandergrift, Larry
    (1996) Listening strategies of core French high school students. Canadian Modern Language Review, 55 (2), 200–223.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. (1997) The comprehension strategies of second language (French) listeners: a descriptive study. Foreign Language Annals, 30 (3), 387–409. doi: 10.1111/j.1944‑9720.1997.tb02362.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1944-9720.1997.tb02362.x [Google Scholar]
  48. (2003) Orchestrating strategy use: Toward a model of the skilled language listener. Language Learning, 53 (3), 463–496. doi: 10.1111/1467‑9922.00232
    https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9922.00232 [Google Scholar]
  49. Ward, Mark
    (1998, January 31) Waiting in the wings. New Scientist, p.9.
    [Google Scholar]
  50. Wu, Yi’an
    (1998) What do tests of listening comprehension test?- A retrospection study of EFL test-takers performing a multi-choice task. Language Testing, 15 (1), 21–44.
    [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error