The Impacts of Presenting New Words in Semantically-Related Sets on Vocabulary Learning

Xingrong Wang


This paper mainly explores the impacts of presenting new words in semantically-related (SR) sets on vocabulary learning. 38 students from two classes of Grade 2 in Taiyuan Foreign Language School (Senior High School Section) participate in the whole process. The same vocabulary items unknown to all students are taught to them in 4 lessons. The difference between the experimental group and control group is that words are taught in SR sets in the former and in the latter words belonging to the same SR sets are taught in different lessons. Independent Samples T-test is employed to see if there would be a significant difference between the two groups’ performance in the English-Chinese translation tests of those words. The result shows that there doesn’t exit a significant difference between the two groups in SHT test, but in the LT test two weeks later, SU group performs significantly better than SR group. The research findings may provide some enlightenment for foreign language researchers.

Keywords: Semantically-related (SR) sets, Senior high school students, Semantic field theory, Interference theory

Full Text:



AlShaikhi, A. Z. (2011). The effects of semantic and thematic categorization of vocabulary on Arabic-speaking EFL learners. Colorado State University: Unpublished M.D. thesis.

Channell, J. (1981). Applying semantic theory to vocabulary teaching. ELT Journa, 35(2), 115-122. doi: 10.1093/elt/XXXV.2.115,

Finkbeiner, M., & Nicol, J. (2003). Semantic category effects in second language word learning. Applied Psycholinguistics, 24(3), 369-383. doi: 10.1017/S0142716403000195,

Guo, Ch-H. (2010). The application of the semantic field theory in college English vocabulary instruction. Chinese Journal of Applied Linguistics, 33(4), 50-62.

Hashemi, M. R., & Gowdasiaei, F. (2005). An attribute-treatment interaction study: Lexical-set versus semantically-unrelated vocabulary instruction. RELC Journal, 36(3), 341-361. doi: 10.1177/0033688205060054,

Liu, R-Q., & Wen X. (2006). Linguistics: A new course book (pp.120-126). Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.

McGeoch, J. A., & McDonald, W. T. (1931). Meaningful relation and retroactive inhibition. The American Journal of Psychology, 43, 579-588. doi: 10.2307/1415159,

Nation, P. (2000). Learning vocabulary in lexical sets: Dangers and guidelines. TESOL Journal, 9(2), 6-10.

Papathanasiou, E. (2009). An investigation of two ways of presenting vocabulary. ELT Journal, 63(4), 313-322. doi: 10.1093/elt/ccp014,

Pu, H-Y. (2004). Effects of presenting new words in semantically related sets versus semantically unrelated sets on vocabulary acquisition. Northwest Normal University: Unpublished M.D. thesis.

Tinkham, T. (1993). The effect of semantic clustering on the learning of second language vocabulary. System, 21(3), 371-380. doi: 10.1016/0346-251X(93)90027-E,

Waring, R. (1997). The negative effects of learning words in semantic sets: A replication. System, 25(2), 261-274. doi: 10.1016/S0346-251X(97)00013-4,

Wilkins, D. A. (1972). Linguistics in language teaching (p.111). Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Wu, Q-G. (1988). Introduction to semantics (pp.94-95). Changsha: Hunan Education Publishing House.

Zhang, L., & Sheng, Y. (2009). A study of the influence of semantically-relatedness of word-sets on L2 vocabulary acquisition. Foreign Language Learning Theory and Practice, (4), 18-23.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2010-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

Advances in Language and Literary Studies

You may require to add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.