Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Applied Linguistics

First Advisor

Carstens, Vicki


Throughout the history of language teaching and its pedagogy, many researchers have turned a blind eye to the pedagogical role of the first language (L1) in the second language (L2) classroom. However, the pendulum has recently swung the other way to indicate possible and effective integration of the (L1) in (L2) classrooms. This study sets out to explore the effect of the L1 and L2 on the recall of ESL vocabulary among low-advanced Saudi learners of English in the U.S. For the purpose of the study, 30 Saudi ESL students were recruited and divided into two groups (L1 translation group and L2 definition group). The L1 translation group received a list of English words translated into Arabic whereas the L2 definition group were given the same list of English words but with English definitions. Participants in both groups were asked to study and memorize the target words along with the meaning of each word. Afterwards, an immediate fill-in-the-blank post-test was given to examine whether L1 translation helps participants recall the given L2 vocabulary. Prior to the post-test, participants were given a questionnaire to indicate the most frequently used strategy when learning L2 vocabulary. After the data were analyzed quantitatively employing an independent t-test, the resultant findings showed that L1 translation indeed promotes the immediate recall of L2 vocabulary among Saudi ESL learners. The data elicited from the questionnaire also provided enough evidence that Saudi ESL learners frequently use Arabic more than other strategies to access and understand English. This study showed that L1 translation has a great positive effect on the learning of L2 vocabulary among low-advanced Saudi ESL learners.




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