The connection between vocabulary and reading comprehension

If somebody were to ask why I believe mobile language learning or text based language learning can be an effective addition to traditional language instruction I’m not quite sure I would have an articulate answer to give them.  Naturally, I might respond by saying something along the lines of “modern day students are going to use their phones / mobile devices anyways. Why not try to harness that engagement and deliver some English lessons that way?”

A good answer. Possibly. Acceptable but too superficial.  So why is text based language education viable?  To demonstrate this in my thesis I will investigate literature related to the connection between a persons functional language vocabulary and their reading comprehension.  It’s not surprising that based on what I’ve read so far there is a large amount of data supporting my belief that people who understand the words they are reading better comprehend the subject matter.  Comprehension is described as a critical component of a students reading skills (Neddenriep, Fritz, & Carrier, 2011).  Comprehension is especially critical in academic settings.   English Language Learners (ELL) or students who are studying in a language other than their native language are disadvantaged by the lack of academic vocabulary they possess vs native speakers.  When they read text books they may not fully comprehend the subject matter.

So the question then becomes determining how to provide ELLs with effective exercises that will improve their academic vocabulary which will in-turn positively impact their reading comprehension. If through reading they can gain functional vocabulary than surely it can be assumed that exercises that involve reading would be beneficial.  If they are reading on their mobile device which is something they are going to do anyway it would prove that mobile learning does have a place in language instruction.  At this point I would not say that Mobile Assisted Language Learning is an alternative to in-class instruction, rather I would say that it could be used to deliver innovative lessons and to compliment traditional teaching methods.


Neddenriep, C. E., Fritz, A. M., & Carrier, M. E. (2011). Assessing for generalized improvements in reading comprehension by intervening to improve reading fluency. Psychology in the Schools, 48(1), 14-27.