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Master of Arts (M.A.)

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In recent decades, the meaning-inferred method and the meaning-given method in teaching vocabulary has been widely explored among Second Language Acquisition (SLA). Researchers are still debating which instructional approach is most effective, with varied results from different experiments. A third method, the sentence translation method, tries to reconcile these two contrasting approaches on second language vocabulary learning: (a) inferring word meanings produces greater retention because it cultivates deeper processing, and (b) incorrect meanings may be retained (if the meaning is not given) when wrong inferences are made.

Some research in the field of Second Language Acquisition has been conducted to explore how the teaching approach influences the instant uptake of language features and structures in English. However, few empirical studies have been carried out to examine the short-term and long-term effects on the perception and production of target form in the area of Chinese acquisition as a foreign language.

In this paper, the short-term and long-term effects of these three methods: meaning-inferred method, meaning-given method, and sentence translation method in the context are examined. The main objective of this study was to figure out which of the three methods is the most efficient regarding teaching Chinese vocabulary in context between elementary and intermediate levels.

This study employed an immediate-test and posttest design. The participants were 78 college students in the elementary and intermediate level Chinese class. They were enrolled in three different class sections randomly to generate three experimental groups. Three treatment sessions were conducted between the immediate-test and posttest (see Table 3.1: when learning new vocabularies, Group 1 received meaning- given method; Group 2 received meaning-inferred method; Group 3 received sentence translation method).

Analysis of collected data yielded three main findings.

Firstly, meaning-inferred method was shown to be more efficient on Chinese students of higher level in both the short run and long run. Secondly, as for the elementary level, meaning-given method is still the most efficient method in both the short term and long term, a conclusion consistent with Mondria (2003). Last, the sentence translation method was not proven to be the most efficient method among either elementary or intermediate levels.


First Advisor

Zhijun Wang