The Impact of Context on the learning and Retention of Idioms

Document Type: Research Paper


Department of English, Tabriz Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tabriz, Iran


The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effect of context on learning idioms among 60 Iranian female advanced English learners. To this end, the researcher assigned the participants to two experimental groups and one control group: Group 1 (first experimental group, the extended-context group), Group 2 (second experimental group, the limited-context group) and Group 3 (control group or the decontextualized group). First a 50-item idiom test was constructed using Vocabulary Knowledge scale (adopted from Wesche and Paribakht, 1993) and answered by the participants. The results of this test revealed that thirty idioms were not at all familiar to the participants. So these 30 idioms were selected as the target idioms. Then, the researchers applied two types of treatment to the participants in groups 1 and 2. Group 1 was taught idioms in extended-context through listening to short stories including the target idioms,  Group 2 in the limited-context through listening to single sentences including the target idioms, and Control group (Group 3) was taught idioms through their decontextualized definitions of the target idioms. The analysis of the results of immediate and delayed post-test showed that extended contexts had significant influence on the participants’ idiom learning and retention. Pedagogical implications are provided.  


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