Individuality in Higher Education: The Use of the Multiple-Mnemonic Method to Enhance ESP Students' Vocabulary Development (Depth and Size) and Retention


University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran


Vocabulary learning is considered to be the most comprehensive and the most difficult part of
language learning for all the students especially for ESP students. These students complain that
vocabulary items are too many and are easily forgotten after they are learned. Mnemonic
devices, a group of mental strategies, are developed to facilitate vocabulary learning and
retention for such students. These students, however, have varied needs and interests and if
vocabulary teaching and learning are planned to be effective and enjoyable, various methods
and strategies must be employed. To this end, the multiple-mnemonic method was developed
and studied. Two intact groups of ESP students participated in this study. In the experimental
group the multiple-mnemonic method was used while in the control group the vocabulary
items were just taught and reviewed. The results of the study showed that the multiplemnemonic
method group significantly performed better than the control group in terms of
vocabulary development and retention. EVKS was also further evaluated and used in this study
as a measure of vocabulary size and vocabulary depth.


Main Subjects

Although  research  on  language  attrition  has
concentrated  on  the  possible  causes  of
forgetting  all  or  parts  of  second  language
skills,  it  has  a  little  to  say  about  the
strategies  and  techniques  that  can  be
employed  to  prevent  it  (Brown,  2014).
Forgetting  all  materials  especially  newly
learned  vocabulary  elements  is  what
teachers  usually  observe  and  students
usually  complain  about  (Schmitt,  2000,
2010).  Schmitt  (2000)  believes  that
vocabulary  knowledge  is  not  an  exception
and lexical knowledge is even more prone to
forgetting  than  other  linguistic  elements
such as phonology and grammar. It happens
because  "vocabulary  is  made  up  of
individual  units  rather  than  a  series  of
rules"(Schmitt,  2010,  p.23).  In  many
countries such as Iran, the use of English for
all  students  especially  for  ESP  (English  for
Specific  Purposes)  students  is  usually
limited  to  English  classes.  This  condition
makes  vocabulary  learning  even  more
difficult  and  leads  to  more  vocabulary
forgetting  due  to  the  infrequency  of  input
and  lack  of  enough  exposure  to  language
(Amiryousefi, Vahid Dastjerdi , & Tavakoli,
2012;  Brown,  2014).  Acquiring  enough
English  vocabulary  to  perform  well  in
academic reading and writing tasks expected
of  ESP  students  is,  therefore,  a  huge
challenge  for  many  of  them,  and  it  is  why
they  consider  vocabulary  learning  an
intractable challenge.  
To  help  students  to  retain  the  learned
elements  for  a  longer  period  of  time,
mnemonic  devices  have  been  developed.
Mnemonic  devices  are  those  memory

enhancing  instructional  strategies  through
which  new  information  is  linked  or  pegged
to  the  already  existing  information  to  make
stronger  connections.  Research
(Amiryousefi  &  Ketabi,  2011;  Mastropieri
&Scruggs,  1989;  Schumaker  &  Deshler,
1994) has shown that mnemonic devices can
also  help  language  learners  learn  and  retain
vocabulary  elements  more  effectively  and
hence  minimize  vocabulary  attrition  or
forgetting.  By  the  use  of  mnemonic  devices
or  strategies,  language  learners  can  relate
new  words  to  their  existing  web  of
information  using  some  form  of  imagery  or
However,  there  are  individual  differences
among  language  learners  and  students,  and
they may tend to use and benefit from those
strategies  which  are  based  on  their
psychosocial  predispositions,  needs  and
interests  (Amiryousefi  et  al.,  2012).
Teachers,  consequently,  need to use various
methods and strategies if they want to make
their  classes  more  effective  and  more
interesting (Fritz, Morris, Acton, Voelkel, &
Etkind,  2007;  Sagarra  &  Alba,  2006;
Tomlinson, 2010).
The present study is, therefore, an attempt to
delve more into the above-mentioned issues
by  exploring  the  effects  of  the  multiple-mnemonic  method  on  the  Iranian  ESP
students’  vocabulary  development  and
Individual  differences  in  language
Ever since its existence, experts (Armstrong,
2009;  Dörnyei,  2005;  Visser,  Ashton,  &
Vernon,  2006)  in  the  field  of
psycholinguistics  have  tried  to  follow  two
contradictory  objectives,  namely
determining  the  general  characteristics  of
language  learners  and  at  the  same  time
dealing  with  the  individual  differences
existing  among  them.  These  experts  believe
that  language  learners  are  different  from
each  other.  They,  for  example,  have
different  and  varied  levels  of  intelligences,
motivation,  anxiety,  life  experiences  and
world  knowledge  which  can  interact  with
the input and instructions presented to them
and  affect  the  mental  processes  involved
(Grey, Williams, & Rebuschat, 2015). These
differences  can  be  caused  because  of  the
differences in:
1.  biological  endowment—including
hereditary  or  genetic  factors  and  insults
or  injuries  to  the  brain  before,  during,
and after birth; 2.personal life history—
including  experiences  with  parents,
teachers, peers, friends, and others …;
3.cultural  and  historical  background—
including  the  time  and  place  in  which
you were born and raised and the nature
and  state  of  cultural  or  historical
developments  in  different  domains
(Armstrong, 2009, p.27).  
In the same fashion, Graham (2009) believes
that  students  also  have  different  learning
styles  and  tend  to  learn  differently  despite
their common grade, age, or academic level.
These  differences  can  be  seen  in  the  use  of
mnemonic  devices  too.  Boers  and
Lindstromberg  (2008),  for  example,  believe
that  “high  imagers”  perform  better  than
those  students  who  have  a  "verbalizing
style" in the use of mnemonic devices which
involve  pictorials  (p.194).The  notions  of
individuality  and  individual  differences  are
also  supported  by  the  tenets  put  forth  by
Communicative  Language  Teaching  (CLT),
Multiple  Intelligences  (Gardner,  2004),  and
Differentiated  Instruction  (Tomlinson,
2010). Based on the underlying theories and
principles  of  these  approaches,  students  are
varied  in  terms  of  characteristics  such  as
motivation, interests and intelligences, and a
"one-size-fits-all"  language  learning
approach  cannot  be  successful
(Kumaravadivelu,  2009,  p.28).  Therefore,
classroom  instructions  and  procedures
should  be  based  on  students'  needs  and
aspirations,  and  should  be  applied  in  a  way
that can involve more students rather than to
be  suitable  for  "an  intellectual
elite"(Macaro,  2001,  p.268).  Accordingly,
teachers  and  educational  planners  need  to
resort to a wide range of teaching strategies,
materials,  curricula  and  lesson  plans  in  a
way  that  all  students  can  have  their
predispositions  addressed  at  least  some  of
the  time  in  the  classroom  (Armstrong,
An  important  aim  of  research  in  the  area  of
vocabulary  learning  and  teaching  is  to  find
ways to minimize vocabulary forgetting and
to maximize the transference of lexical items
from  the  short-term  memory  to  the  more
permanent  long-term  memory  which  is
considered  to  be  the  most  important
objective  of  vocabulary  learning  (Schmitt,
2000). This is for this reason that mnemonic
devices are for long proposed and studied in
the  literature.  Mnemonic  devices  have  been
the  most  popular  vocabulary  learning
strategies  which  are  believed  to  provide
substantial  contribution  to  vocabulary
development  and  retention  and  to  decrease
vocabulary  forgetting.    They  belong  to  a
group  of  mental  strategies  devised  to  help
learners  to  remember  learned  vocabulary
items  for  longer  periods  of  time
(Amiryousefi  &  Ketabi,  2011;  Amiryousefi
et al., 2012; Levin, 1993; Solso, 1995).  
Aitchison  (2002)  believes  that  our  mind  is
like  the  London  Underground  System.  It
means that information stored in the brain is
linked  in  different  ways  like  a  spider's  web.
The  general  picture  of  the  mental  lexicon,
according to him, is one in which there are a
variety of links between words, some strong,
some  weak.  The  main  way  to  transfer
vocabulary  items  from  short-term  memory
to  long-term  memory,  the  ultimate  purpose
of  vocabulary  learning  and  teaching,  and
create  a  strong  connection  is  to  find  some
elements  in  the  mental  lexicon  to  attach  the
new lexical items to (Amiryousefi & Ketabi,
2011;  Schmitt,  2000;).  Mnemonic  devices
are  techniques,  either  verbal  or  visual  in
nature, that serve to improve the storage and
the  recall  of  new  information  by
meaningfully  relating  it  to  what  is  already
known.  By  the  use  of  mnemonic  devices,
teachers  can  relate  new  lexical  items  to
information  students  already  have  in  their
long-term  memory  and  hence  improve
vocabulary learning and recall, and decrease
vocabulary  forgetting  (Amiryousefi  &
Ketabi, 2011; Thompson, 1987).  
Different  types  and  classifications  of
mnemonic  devices  have  been  proposed
throughout the literature. Thompson (1987),
for  example,  classifies  mnemonic  strategies
into  five  classes,  namely  linguistics,  spatial,
visual,  physical  response  and  verbal
methods.  Oxford  (1990),  on  the  other  hand,
identifies  four  major  strategies,  namely
creating  a  mental  linkage,  applying  images
and  sounds,  reviewing  well,  and  employing
action. While Baddeley (1999) believes that
mnemonic  devices  are  classified  into  visual
imagery strategies and verbal strategies. The
major  mnemonic  devices  proposed  and
studied in the literature  are the loci method,
the  key  word  method,  the  visualization
method,  the  pegword  method,  the
storytelling  method,  the  picture  method  and
the  translation  method  (Amiryousefi  &
Ketabi, 2011).
Multiple-mnemonic method
As mentioned earlier, due to the existence of
individual  differences,  all  the  students  may
not be able to use all the mnemonic devices
well  and  benefit  from  them  equally.

Different students may, consequently, prefer
different mnemonic devices (Amiryousefi et
al., 2012). To attend to this issue in the area
of  vocabulary  learning  and  teaching  in  the
context  of  ESP  (English  for  Specific
Purposes),  multiple-mnemonic  method  was
used  in  this  study.  The  multiple-mnemonic
method does not support the use of  a single
strategy,  but  several  strategies  which  are
selected  based  on  the  nature  of  the  classes
and  needs  and  interests  of  the  learners.
Through  the  multiple-mnemonic  method,
teachers  can  present  several  strategies  at
once  and  encourage  students  to  use  the
one/ones  which  they  find  more  interesting
and useful.  
In  the  present  study  a  combination  of  the
following  mnemonic  devices  was  used
based  on  the  nature  of  the  Iranian  ESP
classes  and  students:  1)  the  loci  method  in
which students imagine a very familiar place
like  a  room  or  a  house  and  then  associate
each  new  word  to  a  part  of  it  to  be
remembered.  In  other  words,  the  students
take  an  imaginary  walk  along  their  familiar
places  and  retrieve  the  items  they  have  put
As  people's  experiences  are  different,
students  may  come  up  with  different
pictures;  2)  the  visualization  method  in
which students imagine  a picture or a scene
which is associated with the target word. Its
difference with the method of loci is that in
visualization  for  each  word  a  picture  or  a
scene  is  imagined  while  in  the  method  of
loci  several  words  are  related  to  a  familiar
place and seen as an imaginary walk through
that  place;  3)  the  storytelling  method  in
which  students  link  the  words  together  in  a
story.  At  first  they  should  associate  the
target  words  to  a  topic  or  some  topics,  and
then they should connect them by making up
a story containing the words and 4) pegword
method  in  which  students  relate  the  new
lexical  elements  to  easily  memorable  items
which  act  as  pegs  or  hooks.  Pegword
method has two stages. At first, students are
asked  to  remember  10  number-rhyme  pairs
like  "one  is  bun  or  john,  two  is  shoe,  and
three  is  tree".  In  the  second  stage,  the
students are asked to visualize the words and
try  to  link  them  to  the  rhyming  words.  The
words are, therefore, learned in a composite
picture  of  the  given  word  and  the  peg
(Amiryousefi  &  Ketabi,  2011;  Amiryousefi
et  al.,  2012;  Eysenck,  1994;  Groeger,  1997;
Holden,  1999;  Mirhassani  &  Eghtesadei,
2007; O’Malley & Chamot, 1990).
Vocabulary  depth  and  size  and  the
related measurement tools
A  distinction  has  been  made  by  the
researchers  in  the  field  of  vocabulary
learning  and  teaching  (Akbarian,  2010;
Amiryousefi,  2015;  Haastrup  &  Henriksen,
2000;  Meara,  1996;  Nassaji,  2004;  Read,
2000)  between  two  aspects  of  vocabulary
knowledge,  namely  size  and  depth.  Size  of
vocabulary  knowledge  is  defined  as  the
number  of  words  known  by  a  language
learner  at  a  specific  level  of  proficiency.
Depth  of  vocabulary  knowledge,  on  the
other  hand,  refers  to  the  quality  of
vocabulary  knowledge  possessed  by  a
language  learner  or  how  well  he/she  knows
different  aspects  of  a  word  such  as
pronunciation, spelling, register and stylistic
aspects  and  semantic  relations  with  other
vocabulary  elements,  and  how  well  he/she
can  use  it  with  semantics  and  pragmatics
Various  assessment  tools  such  as
Vocabulary  Size  Test  (Meara  &  Jones,
1990)  ,  Level’s  Test  (Nation,  2001),
Vocabulary  Knowledge  Scale  (VKS)
(Paribakht  &  Wesche,  1993a,  1993b;
Wesche  &  Paribakht,  1996),  Word
Associates  Test  (WAT)  (Read,  1993,  1995,
2000),  V-Links  test  (Wolter,  2005)  and
Extended  Vocabulary  Knowledge  Scale
(EVKS)  (Amiryousefi  et  al.,  2012;
Amiryousefi,  2015)  have  been  developed
and  used  in  the  literature  to  measure  these
two aspects of vocabulary knowledge. These
measurement  tools  have  their  own  merits
and  demerits.  Vocabulary  Size  Test  and
Level's  Test  are,  for  example,  used  as
measurement tools of the size of vocabulary
knowledge  and  cannot  be  used  to  measure
vocabulary depth (Amiryousefi, 2015). VKS
is  the  most  quoted  word  knowledge  test  in
the  literature  which  measures  vocabulary
knowledge  in  different  degrees  or  levels.
Some  scholars  such  as  Wolter  (2005)  have,
however,  voiced  their  criticism  against  it.
They  believe  that  it  does  not  measure
multiple  meanings  of  a  word  and  word
relations such as synonymy and collocations
(Milton, 2009).Word Associate Test is also a
measure  of  the  depth  of  vocabulary
knowledge  which  is  based  on  the  principle
of  word  association.  Its  problem  is  that  it
can  be  used  for  the  words  that  appear  well-connected  like  "sudden"(figure1).  It  cannot,
however,  be  used  appropriately  with  the
words  like  "circuit"  in  this  study  that  are
much more restricted in their use and do not
collocate  so  widely,  or  may  not  appear  to
associate  in  the  same  way  as  words  like
"sudden" do (Milton, 2009).

EVKS  (Amiryousefi  et  al.,  2012)  was
developed to study the effects of vocabulary
knowledge  on  EAP  (English  for  academic
purposes)  students'  reading  comprehension
and  reading  strategy  use.  Amiryousefi
(2015)  also  used  it  to  assess  the  vocabulary
knowledge of the ESP students. EVKS is the
extended  form  of  VKS  (Paribakht  &
Wesche,  1993a,  1993b;  Wesche  &
Paribakht,  1996)  which  is  believed  to
measure  both  aspects  of  vocabulary
knowledge in levels or degrees.  
 Research questions
The questions addressed in this study are:
  Q1.  Can  multiple-mnemonic  method
result  in  greater  vocabulary
development  and  retention  among
ESP students?
  Q2.  What  are  the  Iranian  ESP
students  'attitudes  toward  the
multiple-mnemonic method?
To  carry  out  the  study,  at  first  two  intact
ESP  classes  at  Isfahan  University  of
Technology  were  selected.  These  students
took an ESP class in fall 2014 and their field
of  study  was  Electrical  Engineering.  Their
level  of  proficiency  was  assessed  and
controlled based on the results of an Oxford
Placement  Test  (OPT  henceforth)  given  to
them  prior  to  the  study.  As  it  is  impossible
to change the arrangements of the classes in
Iranian  universities,  those  students  who  did
not match the others in terms of proficiency
could  not  be  discarded  from  the  class,  but
their  data  (scores,  responses  to  the
questionnaires,  etc.)  were  not  collected  and
analyzed not to affect the results.  
The  students  involved  in  the  study  were  at
the  intermediate  level  based  on  their  scores
on  OPT.  Table1  represents  the  number  of
the  students  present  in  each  class  and  the
number  of  the  students  involved.  In  one  of
the  classes  the  multiple-mnemonic  method
was  used  to  teach  the  given  vocabulary
items and the next class served as the control
group. The students in the control group and
the  students  in  the  multiple-mnemonic 
method  group  did  not  meet  each  other
during  the  study,  and  were  not  aware  that
their  performance  would  be  compared.
However,  the  students  were  informed  about
the  study  and  were  asked  to  sign  a  written
consent if they were willing to participate.

Extended  Vocabulary  Knowledge  Scale
Extended  Vocabulary  Knowledge  Scale
(EVKS)  (Amiryousefi  et  al.,  2012;
Amiryousefi, 2015) was used in the study to
measure  the  subjects'  vocabulary
knowledge. EVKS is an extended version of
VKS  (Paribakht  &  Wesche,  1993a,  1993b;
Wesche & Paribakht, 1996). To compensate
for  the  problems  attributed  to  VKS  by
scholars  such  as  Wolter  (2005)  and  Milton
(20090  as  not  being  able  to  measure  word
relations  and  multiple  meanings,
Amiryousefi  et  al.  (2012)  and  Amiryousefi
(2015) added three self  –report items (items
5,  6,  and  7,  Table  2)  to  it  and  classified  the
items into two major categories, namely size
and depth. Its advantage over VKS is that it
can  better  assess  different  aspects  of
vocabulary  knowledge.  Its  advantage  over
WAT  is  that  it  can  be  used  with  academic
words  such  as  "aggregate,  alloy,  charge"
(  words  used  in  the  present  study)  that  do
not  associate  and  collocate  well  with  other
words  and  cannot  be  tested  appropriately
using  a  fixed  set  of  associations  and
collocations used in WAT.
As  shown  in  Table  2,  EVKS  has  two  major
parts:  vocabulary  size  part  and  vocabulary
depth  part.  Vocabulary  size  part  measures
the  size  of  vocabulary  knowledge  in  four
levels ranging from total unfamiliarity to the
ability  of  providing  the  correct  meaning  of
the intended word.  
The  size  part  determines  the  familiarity  or
non-familiarity  of  the  subjects  with  the
given word based on their responses to four
response  categories  available.    If  the  first
response  category  is  selected,  it  shows  that
the  given  word  is  totally  unfamiliar.  The
second  respond  category,  however,  shows  a
very  loose  remembrance  of  the  word  form
but  not  its  meaning.  By  selecting  this
category  the  subjects  indeed  report  that  the
form  is  rather  familiar  but  the  meaning  is
not.  As  the  purpose  of  vocabulary  teaching
is  to  help  students  to  get  familiar  with  the
form  and  meaning  of  a  word  on  one  side
(vocabulary  size)  and  its  other  meanings,
relations  with  other  words  and  its  usage  on
the  other  side  (vocabulary  depth),  the  first
and  the  second  response  categories  of  the
size  part  do  not  have  any  specific  values  in
this  regard.  In  the  scoring  procedure  no
point  is,  therefore,  assigned  to  them.  The
third  and  the  fourth  categories  of  this  part
ask  the  subjects  to  provide  an  English
definition  and/or  a  L1  equivalent  for  the
given  word.  Response  category  number
three  is  selected  if  the  subjects  know  the
meaning  of  the  given  word  but  they  are  not
sure  of  it.  If  the  answer  is  correct  in  the
scoring  procedure  point  one  is  given  to  it.
The  selection  of  response  category  number
four shows that they know the meaning and
they  are  sure  it  is  correct.  As  it  shows  a
rather higher level of learning in the scoring
procedure  point  two  is  given  to  it  if  the
provided  answer  is  correct.  The  minimum
score  for  this  part  will  be  zero  and  the
 maximum will be two.
The  vocabulary  depth  part  of  EVKS  is,
however, intended to examine the aspects of
word meanings and subjects' depth of lexical
knowledge.  This  part  has  four  response
categories each of which measures a specific
aspect  of  depth  of  vocabulary  knowledge
including  multiple  meanings  of  the  word
(response  category  number  5),  its  relation
with other words by asking for its synonyms
and/or antonyms (response category number
6),  its  collocations  (response  category
number 7), and the ability to use the word in
a  sentence  with  grammatical  and  semantic
correctness  (response  category  number  8).
For each item of the depth part of EVKS one
point  is  assigned  except  for  number  four  to
which  two  points  are  given,  one  for
grammatical  and  the  other  for  semantic
correctness  of  the  given  word  in  the
sentence provided.

EVKS reliability and validity indexes
Amiryousefi  et  al.  (2012)  and  Amiryousefi
(2015)  checked  the  content  validity  of  the
test  through  expert  judgment  and  its
reliability  through  test  re-tests  method  with
the correlation of 0.91. To further check the
content  validity  of  EVKS,  it  was  mailed  to
10  experts  in  the  field  whose  expertise  is
vocabulary  teaching  and  learning.  They
were informed about the nature, the purpose
and  the  scoring  procedure  of  the  test  and
were  asked  to  send  back  their  comments.  7
out  of  8  experts  replied  believed  that  it  is
well-designed and can appropriately be used
for  the  purpose  defined.  However,  they
suggested  some  changes  in  the  wording  of
the  test  which  were  applied  and  the  revised
version was used in the present study.
To further explore its reliability, it was given
to  a  group  of  33  ESP  students  who  were
comparable  to  the  participants  of  the  study
and the following results were obtained.  As
shown  in  Table 3, α is bigger than 0.7 for
both  the  size  part  and  depth  part  of  EVKS
which shows the reliability of the instrument

The  words  were  listed  and  for  each  word
eight  options  were  provided.  The  subjects
were also given an instruction in Farsi, their
mother  tongue,  to  help  them  know  how  to
complete  EVKS.    It  was  used  in  the  study
and  scored  twice  after  it  was  completed  by
the  subjects.  Once  each  part  (the  size  part
and the depth part) was scored separately to
assess  the  subjects'  size  and  depth  of
vocabulary  knowledge,  and  then  these  two
scores  were  added  together  to  arrive  at  a
general  score  for  the  subjects'  vocabulary
development (overall vocabulary score).
The survey
Galloway,  Conner  and  Pope  (2013)  and
Scruggs and Mastropieri (1992) believe that
students and teachers are the most important
agents  in  all  educational  contexts  but  their
attitudes  are  not  usually  attended  to  in  the
studies  done  on  them.  Schmitt  (2010)  also
believes  that  vocabulary  learning  is  cyclical
and  it  begins  with  "an  Initial  Appraisal  of
Vocabulary  Learning  Experience"  which  is
described  as  learners'  values,  interests  and
desires toward vocabulary learning tasks and
activities  (p.94).  In  order  to  explore  the
subjects'  attitudes  toward  the  multiple-mnemonic  method  used  in  this  study,  three
questions  were  given  to  the  subjects  at  the
end  of  the  study.  The  questions  evaluating
the  subjects'  attitudes  were  taken  from
Mnemonic  Attitude  Survey  (MAS)
(Richmond,  2006).  Students  rated  each
question on a five-point Likert scale with the
anchor  points  of  1:  very  unpleasant  to  5:
very  enjoyable  for  question  number  one
which  asked  if  the  subjects  enjoyed  the
multiple-mnemonic method; 1: very unlikely
to  5:  very  likely  for  question  number  two
which  asked  if  the  subjects  intended  to  use
the  multiple-mnemonic  method  again;  and
1:  very  ineffective  to  5:  very  effective  for
question  number  three  which  asked  if  the
subjects  thought  the  multiple-mnemonic
method was effective.
At  first,  around  75  novel  words  were
selected  from  English  for  Electrical
Engineering  (Amiryousefi  &  Rezaei,  2013),
the  book  taught  to  Electrical  Engineering
students  at  Isfahan  University  of
Technology,  and  their  novelty  was  tested
two  weeks  before  the  study.  The  subjects
were  given  a  list  of  the  words  and  were
asked  to  mark  those  which  were  familiar  to
them and write down their meaning in Farsi.
Those  words  which  were  familiar  to  the
majority  of  the  subjects  were  omitted  and
finally  64  words  remained  as  the  target
words of the study.
In  the  experimental  group,  at  first  an
introductory  session  was  held  before  the
study to instruct the subjects how to use the
selected mnemonic devices (the loci method,
the  visualization  method,  the  story  telling
method  and  the  pegword  method).  During
the  study,  the  target  words  were  taught  in
three  steps.  In  step  1,  the  students  were
provided with a list of the new words along
with  a  brief  and  understandable  definition,
one  or  more  examples  and  when  possible
synonyms,  antonyms  and  some  collocations
for  each  word.  The  words  and  the
accompanying  information  were  read  out
and  described  to  the  subjects.  The  subjects
were  sometimes  asked  to  give  their  own
synonyms,  antonyms,  collocations  and/or
other meanings, and were encouraged to use
the  target  words  in    sentences.  The  purpose
of this part was to provide a context which is
deemed  essential  for  vocabulary  learning
and  mnemonic  instruction  (Atay  &
Ozbulgan,  2007).  In  step  two,  the  available
mnemonic  devices  were  reviewed  and  the
subjects were required to apply the one/ones
they  favored  to  learn  the  new  words  better.
In  step  three,  some  of  the  students  were
called to show what strategies they used and
how  they  used  them.  The  students  were
helped  out  if  needed.  In  the  control  group,
instead  of  step  two  and  three  the  given
words  and  the  accompanying  examples
were,  however,  reviewed  and  the  students
were  asked  to  read  out  the  words  from  the
list or to make their own examples.
In  each  group  the  EVKS  was  given  to  the
subjects  twice,  once  immediately  after  the
instruction  to  measure  their  vocabulary
development and once two weeks after it to
measure  their  vocabulary  retention.  At  the
end  of  the  study  MAS  was  given  to  the
subjects  in  the  experimental  group.  The
study lasted eight sessions.
To  answer  the  research  questions,  the
subjects'  responses  to  different  parts  of
EVKS  were  scored  using  the  procedures
described  earlier.  Then,  the  collected  data
were  analyzed  by  the  use  of  the  statistical
package  for  the  Social  Sciences  (SPSS)
version  16  and  the  following  results  were
obtained.  Table  4  represents  the  descriptive
statistics  of  the  subjects'  scores.  The  scores
obtained from the size and the depth parts of
EVKS  were  converted  to  a  scale  of  200  to
achieve  scoring  consistency.  Therefore,  the
size and the depth scores are out of 200 and
the  overall  scores  are  out  of  400.  Number1
after  the  vocabulary  scores  represents  the
vocabulary  scores  on  EVKS  given  to  the
subjects  at  time  1,  immediately  after  the
instruction,  to  measure  their  vocabulary
development or gain, while number 2 is used
for the vocabulary sores on EVKS at time 2
given  to  the  subjects  two  weeks  after  the
instruction  to  measure  their  vocabulary
retention. As it is shown, the mean scores of
the  vocabulary  size,  vocabulary  depth  and
overall  vocabulary  are  higher  for  the
multiple-mnemonic method group.  
To  ensure  sample  homogeneity,
Kolmogorov-Smirnov  Test  was  used.  As
shown  in  Table  5,  all  significant  values  are
bigger  than      0.05  which  represent  sample
To  answer  question  number  one,  a  series  of
independent T-tests was used to compare the
subjects'  scores  in  the  multiple-mnemonic
method group with the subjects' scores in the
control group on the EVKS (vocabulary size
scores,  vocabulary  depth  scores  and  their
overall  vocabulary  scores)  at  time  1  and  at
time 2.  
As  shown  in  table  6,  Sig.  (2-Tailed)  values
are  less  than  0.05  for  all  the  parts
representing  a  statistically  significant
difference  between  the  multiple-mnemonic
method  group  and  the  control  group  in  all
the scores obtained from EVKS both at time
1 and time 2. By examining the mean scores
shown  in  Table  5  it  can  be  understood  that
the  mean  scores  of  the  subjects  in  the
multiple-mnemonic  method  group  are
higher.  It  can,  therefore,  be  concluded  that
the  subjects  in  the  multiple-mnemonic
method  group  outperformed  the  subjects  in
the  control  group  in  all  aspects  of
vocabulary  knowledge,  namely  vocabulary
size,  vocabulary  depth  and  the  overall
vocabulary  knowledge  both  at  time  1  and
time 2.
To  answer  question  number  two,  the
frequency  of  the  subjects'  responses  in  the
multiple-mnemonic  method  group  to  MAS
was calculated. The results showed that 72%
of  the  subjects  selected  very  enjoyable  and
enjoyable for question number one showing
that  the  multiple-mnemonic  method  can  be
an  enjoyable  strategy  for  ESP  students.  For
question  number  2,  the  results  were
somehow  different.  49%  of  the  subjects
selected  very  likely  and  likely,  11%  had  no
idea and 42% selected unlikely representing
that  around  half  of  the  subjects  intended  to
use  it  for  their  future  vocabulary  learning.
Their  responses  to  question  number  three
also  represented  that  67%  of  the  subjects
selected  very  effective  and  effective
showing that most of them believed that the
multiple-mnemonic  method  is  an  effective
strategy for vocabulary learning.

Conclusion and discussion
The  results  of  the  analysis  of  the  data
obtained  from  the  study  showed  that  the
subjects  in  the  multiple-mnemonic  method
group significantly performed better than the
subjects  in  the  control  group  in  terms  of
vocabulary development and retention.  The
results  also  showed  that  the  subjects  found
the multiple-mnemonic method an enjoyable
and  effective  practice  and  around  half  of
them  liked  to  use  it  for  their  future
vocabulary learning.
The results of the study are somehow in line
with  both  the  discussions  presented  in  the
area  of  vocabulary  learning  strategies
(VLSs) and the discussions presented in the
area  of  psycholinguistics.  Scholars  in  the
area  of  VLSs  (Celce-Murcia,  2001;  Gu,
2005;  Hatch  &  Brown,  1995;  Kim,  2008;
Lin,  2008;  Moir  &  Nation,  2002,  2008;
Nation, 2001, 2005; Schmitt, 2000; Schmitt,
2010;  Takac,  2000)  believe  that  VLSs  have
a facilitative role in vocabulary learning and
can  help  learners  both  in  discovering  the
meaning of a word and consolidating it, and
are  especially  needed  when  language
learners  are  encouraged  to  act
independently. The results of this study also
showed  that  mnemonic  devices,  as  a  major
group  of  VLSs,  can  improve  vocabulary
learning and retention.
Experts  in  the  area  of  psycholinguistics
(Armstrong,  2009;  Visser  et  al.,  2006)  also
believe  that  there  are  individual  differences
among students in each class that need to be
taken  into  account.  They,  for  example,
believe  that  students  have  different  and
varied  levels  of  intelligences,  motivation,
anxiety,  life  experiences  and  world
knowledge.  Teachers,  therefore,  need  to
resort  to  varied  instructions,  strategies  and
modified  contents  to  meet  students'  diverse
needs  and  interests,  and  create  a  classroom
where  everyone  can  be  successful  despite  a
variance  in  levels,  needs  and  styles
(Tomlinson, 2010).  
The reason why the subjects in the multiple-mnemonic  method  group  significantly
performed  better  than  the  subjects  in  the
control  group  in  terms  of  vocabulary
development and retention can be attributed
to the fact that ESP students are also varied
in  terms  of  factors  such  as  interests,
capabilities  and  intelligences.  By  learning
vocabulary  through  the  multiple-mnemonic
method,  they  have  the  chance  to  use  those
mnemonic  devices  in  which  they  are
interested.  In  this  way,  their  individuality  is
better  addressed  than  in  an  instruction  in
which  all  the  students  have  to  use  the  same
The  subjects  also  had  positive  attitudes
toward  the  multiple-mnemonic  method
which  represents  their  appraisal  for  it.  As
Schmitt  (2010)  puts  forth,  the  appraisal  of
the  vocabulary  learning  experience  can  lead
to an increase in the capacity for vocabulary
development.  Dörnyei  (2005)  also  believes
that  students'  preferences  can  affect  their
functioning.  He  believes  that  students'
attributes  such  as  motivation,  aptitude  and
cognitive  styles  determine  the  amount  of
effort  they  choose  to  put  into  improving
their  own  learning,  and  individualized
strategies,  techniques  and  activities  help
them  excel  their  active  participation  in  the
learning process.  
The reason why the subjects in the multiple-mnemonic  method  group  performed  better
and  liked  the  experience  they  had  can  be
attributed  to  the  fact  that  through  the
multiple-mnemonic  method  they  had  the
chance  to  choose  and  use  those  strategies
which  were  based  on  their  attributes  and
The  multiple-mnemonic  method  developed
in this study by the researcher is, therefore, a
way of addressing the notion of individuality
in  the  area  of  vocabulary  learning  and
teaching.  It  supports  the  fact  that  students
have  varied  needs,  interests  and  attributes,
and  these  factors  affect  their  strategy
preferences  (Lewis  &  Hurd,  2008).  The
multiple-mnemonic  method  does  not,
however, consist of a set of fixed mnemonic
devices.  It  leaves  room  for  creativity,
individuality and contextualization.
Limitations of the study
Although  efforts  were  made  to  follow
rigorous  procedures  for  data  collection  and
data  analysis,  the  study  suffered  from  some
limitations.  The  present  study  used  intact
groups of ESP students due to the problems
stated earlier. It was also impossible to have
more subjects to be assigned to other groups
and  to  employ  only  one  of  the  mnemonics
used  in  the  multiple-mnemonic  method  in
each of them to compare the performance of
the  subjects  in  the  multiple-mnemonic
method  group  with  the  performance  of  the
subjects  in  these  groups  to  see  if  the  same
results  can  be  obtained  with  each  of  the
mnemonics too.



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