Chapter One Introduction 1-1 Introductory Note Learning vocabulary is an important aspect of the listening, speaking reading and writing skills for EFL students. This study is to investigate the efficiency of the EFL college students in learning word derivation. The present study is concerned with prefixes and suffixes since these two categories deal with forming new words and they both represent an active role in building new words in English. 1-2 The Problem of the Study Language is one of the most fundamental aspects of human behavior and the development of language into a refined instrument of expression and communication is probably man’s greatest achievement”. (Hartmann and Stork, 1976:vii). Grammar is an essential part of any language. Since there is no language without sounds, there is no language without grammar. (Nasr, 1980: 52). In the traditional description of the grammatical system, there is usually a two fold division: morphology and syntax. According to this description, syntax deals with the distribution of words (i. word forms) and morphology with their internal grammatical structure. [Lyons, 1981: 103]. Lado (1964: 218) stipulates that “morphology is a description of the morphemes of a language and the patterns of formation of words”. The study of the morphology of a language comprises two parts. The first deals with the realization of grammatical categories, systems or meanings by mean of inflection and the second deals with the combining of word constituents as the means of deriving new word (Jackson, 1985:5).
Learning a foreign language is a difficult task for all students who find difficult in: how to select the word whose symbols accurately represent the concept which they have in their minds, and how to select the proper word to fit a concept. We all know the situation where a student has been learning over a number of years to use language in a natural context and finds that he still lacks many vocabularies that he mostly needs.
Students know hundreds of English words, but they can’t use them in their reading or writing English language. Fries (1967: 3) claims that “mastery of the “word” the vocabulary of foreign language is found in our actual experience and it takes time”. Communicating in a foreign language is not very difficult provided that one knows the appropriate vocabulary and then some form of interchange of language is possible. Without vocabulary it is impossible to communicate. [Wilkins, 1974: 111].
Through teaching the English language, it has been found that students face many difficulties in using words with (prefixes and suffixes) which play a great role in changing the word from one part of speech to another, and this accordingly will change its meaning (Al-Rifa’i, 1995). A word used in different contexts may have different meanings, thus, simply learning the definition of a word without examples on where and when the word occurs will not help the learner to fully understand its meaning.
The present study is concerned with word derivation (prefixes and suffixes) since these two categories deal with forming new words and they both represent a productive source of forming new words in English. Students of English must learn which suffix, for instance, or which change is used with each word, for they are not interchangeable. For many words we can say what part of speech they are until we determine how they are used in a sentence. Clark (1973: 47) thinks that “lexical words are more important to the construction process than the grammatical words”.
It is true, however, that whenever we think of language and language learning, we usually think of mastering of vocabulary of learning the word. This common reaction seems to arise from our experience with our language (Fries, 1967: 2). Rowley (1971: 167) asserts that acquiring vocabulary is one of the most tedious learning tasks confronting the language learner. The task is difficult not only because of the large number of words that must be mastered, but also because so little attention has been given to the problem of making the learner’s job easier. -3 The Significance of the Study There is no need to emphasize the necessity of studying vocabulary, and the exact use of words as elements in the speaking and writing of good English. Language is primarily a means of communicating thoughts, ideas and experiences from one person to another. In gaining new ideas, we need words. The speakers of a language grasp the significance of the words when they are used in context. This apparently brings out the hidden features of their meaning when they are used in various sense.
Learning a foreign language is not just memorizing words, but how to use these words in constructing sentences. Al-Hamash (1961:7) emphasizes that vocabulary cuts across all aspects of language. It is related to pronunciation, sentences-structure, spelling and syntax. Vocabulary problems hinder the acquisition of the linguistic skills which the language teacher tries to develop. Vocabulary problems help in the solution of the problems in other aspects of the language. The value of this study is magnified by the fact that mastering the vocabulary of English is very important to the learners.
Moreover teachers should pay more attention to teaching word derivation. Finocchairo (1986:71) assures that mastering the vocabulary of language is a very important part of learning that language, although it is believed that learning of sounds and structures should be precedent in second language learning”. The present study attempts to measure and to compare the EFL college students’ efficiency in learning word derivation in English which itself an essential contribution in teaching EFL. Moreover, it may stand as an important reference to consult when W. F. is studied or researched.
Celce-murcia and Freeman (1979:52) claims, in this respect that “working with ESL/EFL students on the meaning of some common prefixes and suffixes can help them to expand their productive and receptive vocabularies”. This study is to investigate the EFL college students’ achievement in using word-derivation. Its value lies in the fact that the mastery of affixes results in the growth of the capacity to generate numerous vocabulary items. The importance of affixes, and the need for mastering them, is based on the fact that change has been taking place in life.
The need of users of a language also change and this creates a challenge for the language to cope with the needs of the society. Words have always been associated with magic. Words are the medium in which a learner can communicate with others. Word derivation is one of the main processes in using prefixes and suffixes in the English language. Students of English must learn how to use prefixes and suffixes in their correct form. Therefore, it is helpful for students of English to understand the word building process.
Allen (1972: 126) maintains that as students advance in their study of the foreign language, they must continue to build their vocabularies. Knowing the area of his weakness, the student can rightly proceed towards this target. Vocabulary is one of the basic aspects of learning a foreign language. It is acquired by the learner in the process of learning and it must be considered very important because without a stock of words it is impossible to use language in practice. (Belyayev, 1963:144). Many techniques have been used to teach vocabulary, but it is important to think about the principles on which word-building is based.
Some teachers think that vocabulary means the ability to use words in sentences. Methodologists are becoming more interested in studying the learning process, (how a student learns) rather than the learning product (what he learns) and lay more emphasis on the behavior of the learner than the teachers. Rivers (1983: 125) states that “the acquisition of an accurate vocabulary is important for successful second language use because without the extensive vocabulary we will be unable to use the structure and functions we may have learned for communication”. 1-4 The Aims of the Study The present study aims at : 1.
Measuring the EFL college students’ achievement is using word-derivation. 2. Comparing the EFL college students’ achievement in recogniz-ing and using word-derivation. 1-5 The Hypothesis of the Study The following null hypothesis is adopted: There are no significant differences among the EFL college students’ achievement in recognizing and using WD. 1-6 The Limits of the Study This study is limited to : 1. third Year EFL College students in the College of Education/Ibn Rushd, College of Arts, and College of Languages at Baghdad University. 2. only two types of derivational affixes; namely, prefixes and suffixes are investigated. -7 Definition of Basic Terms • Efficiency: It is the state or quality of being productive with minimum waste of effort. (Oxford Modern Dictionary, 1993:68). It is also defined as the “ratio of the useful energy delivered by a dynamic system to the energy applied to it. (Webster’s Dictionary, 1981:359). The operational definition adopted here for efficiency is the ability to produce the desired effect. • Word Derivation: In linguistics, derivation is the process of creating a new lexeme from other lexemes. It also means that one word is formed (derived) from another. (Arnold, 1995:1).
The derived word is often a different word class from the original (The American Heritage Book. 1996). Word derivation is also defined as “the formation of a word from its more original or radical element. Also it is a statement of the origin and history of a word. (American Heritage Dictionary, 1980 :195). Williams (1975: 124) defines as “ any non-independent element added to a word that changes its part of speech or its basic semantic meaning”. The operational definition adopted here for word-derivation is the process of changing a word from one syntactic category to another one.