Arab World English Journal ( November 2023)                       Theses ID 301              Pp. 1-309

 Full Theses PDF

A Word Attack Skills-Based Program to Enhance EFL Secondary School Students’
Vocabulary Learning, Reading Comprehension and Self-Efficacy  

Hamdy Ibrahim Ibrahim Elmasry
Almutanabi High School, Abu Dhabi, UAE


Author: Hamdy Ibrahim Ibrahim Elmasry
Thesis Title: A Word Attack Skills-Based Program to Enhance EFL Secondary School Students’ Vocabulary Learning, Reading Comprehension and Self-Efficacy.
Institution: Curriculum & Instruction, Faculty of Education, Mansoura University, Egypt
Degree: Ph.D.u
Subject/Major: Teaching English As a Foreign Language
Year of award:
  Dr. Eman Al-Bashbishy & Dr. Asmaa Abdel-Moneim Mostafa
Keywords: Word attack skills, vocabulary learning, EFL reading comprehension, self-efficacy


The current study aimed at examining the effect of training EFL secondary school students in word-attack skills on enhancing their vocabulary learning, reading comprehension and self-efficacy. Three instruments were developed to achieve the purpose of the study: a vocabulary learning test to measure the participants’ vocabulary development; a reading comprehension test to measure their reading comprehension skills; and a self-efficacy scale to measure their self-efficacy beliefs in vocabulary learning and reading comprehension. The validity and reliability for these instruments were checked before conducting the experiment. The study employed a quasi-experimental design in which the participants were divided into two groups: the control and experimental groups. Each group consisted of 30 female students purposely chosen from second-year secondary school students at Hamza Alsunbati Secondary School, Damietta Governorate. The experimental group received training in word attack skills for 3 months while the control group followed the traditional method of teaching. Results of the study affirmed the effectiveness of training EFL students in these skills revealing significant improvements in the three dependent variables, vocabulary learning, reading comprehension and self-efficacy. Some conclusions and recommendations were reached.

Cite as: Elmasry, H. I. I. (2023). A Word Attack Skills-Based Program to Enhance EFL Secondary School Students’ Vocabulary Learning, Reading Comprehension and Self-Efficacy. Curriculum & Instruction, Faculty of Education, Mansoura University, Egypt, (Ph.D.Thesis). Retrieved from Arab World English Journal (ID Number: 301) November 2023: 1-309.


Abdel Kader, A. (2007).The Effectiveness of Instruction in Context Clues in Improving EFL Students’ Ability to Derive Word Meaning from Context and Their Reading Comprehension. Journal of Psychological and Educational Researches, 3, 3-27. (Menoufia University)

Ahmad, J. (2011). Intentional vs. Incidental Vocabulary Learning. Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research in Business, 3(5), 67-75.

Akbari, R. , Gafarsamar, R. & Asadi, R. (2006). “Who can guess better; word class and learners’ style”. TELL, 2,28-47.

Alderson, J.C. (2000). Assessing reading. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Alderson, J. C. (2005). Diagnosing Foreign Language Proficiency: The Interface between Learning and Assessment. Continuum.

Anderson, N. J. (1999). Exploring second language reading: Issues and strategies. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.

Asgari, A., & Mustapha, A.B. (2011). The Type of Vocabulary Learning Strategies Used by ESL Students in University Putra Malaysia. English Language Teaching. 4.2, 84-90.

Atef-Vahid, S., Maftoon, P., & Zahedi, K. (2012). Topic familiarity, passage sight vocabulary, and L2 lexical inferencing: An investigation in the Iranian EFL context. International Journal of Research Studies in Language Learning, 2 (4), 79-99.

Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman.

Bandura, A. (2006). Adolescent development from an agentic perspective. In F. Pajares, & T. Urdan(Eds.), Self-efficacy beliefs of adolescents (pp. 1-43). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

Bengeleil, N. (2001). Lexical Inferencing Processes of Libyan EFL Medical Students While Reading: The Role of Reading Proficiency and the Arabic Language. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Ottawa.

Bensoussan, M., & Laufer, B. (1984). Lexical guessing in context in EFL reading comprehension. Journal of Research in Reading, 7, 15-32.

Bialystok, E. (1998). Coming of age in applied linguistics. Language Learning, 48, 497-518.

Brown, T.S., & Perry,F.L. (1991). A Comparison of three learning strategies for ESL vocabulary acquisition.TESOL Quarterly, 25, 17-32.

Bye, T. (2015). On location, Grade 10, Student Book. UAE Ministry of Education. McGraw-Hill Education.

Cain, K., Oakhill, J., & Bryant, P.E. (2004). Children’s reading comprehension ability: Concurrent prediction by working memory, verbal ability, and component skills. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96, 31-42.

Carmichael, C., & Taylor, J. A. (2005). Analysis of student beliefs in a tertiary preparatory mathematics course. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 36(7), 713–719.

Carrell, P. L. (1988). Some causes of text-boundedness and schema interference in ESL reading. In Carrell, P. L., J. Devine, & D. E. Eskey (eds.), Interactive Approaches to Second Language Reading. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Clarke, D. F., & Nation, I. S. P. (1980). Guessing the meanings of words from context: strategy and techniques. System, 8, 211-220.

Daller, H., Milton, J. & Treffers-Daller, J. (2007). Modelling and assessing vocabulary knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Delcourt, M & Kinzie, B. (1993). Computer Technologies in Teacher Education: The Measurement of Attitudes and Self-efficacy. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 27 (1), p. 35-41.

Duke, N.K. & Pearson, P.D. (2002). Effective practices for developing reading comprehension. In A.E. Farstrup & S.J. Samuels (Eds), What research has to say about reading instruction (2nd ed., pp. 205-242). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Elgort, I., & Nation, I. S. P. (2010). Vocabulary learning in a second language: Familiar answers to new questions. In P. Seedhouse, S. Walsh, & C. Jenks (Eds.), Conceptualising “learning” in applied linguistics . Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Eskey, D. E. (1988). Holding in the Bottom: An Interactive Approach to the Language Problems of Second Language Readers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 93-111.

Fengning, Y. (1994). Context clues—a key to vocabulary development. (Electronic version). English Teaching Forum, 32 (3), 39-43.

Glencoe, H. (2005). Helping students learn vocabulary-acquisition skills. Teaching Today Journal, 12-21.

Goodman, Y M. (1976). Developing reading proficiency. Findings of research in miscue analysis: classroom implications, ed. by P. D. Allen and D. J. Watson, Illinois: ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading and Communication Skills.

Gough, P. B. (1972). One second of reading. In J. Kavanagh, & I. Mattingly (Eds.), Language by ear and eye. Cambridge. MA: MIT Press. 331-358.

Grabe, W. (2009). Reading in a second language: Moving from theory to practice. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Grabe, W., & Stoller, F. (2002). Teaching and researching reading. Harlow: Pearson Education.

Guthrie, T., & Wigfield, A. (1999). How motivation fits into a science of reading. Scientific Studies of Reading, 3,199-205.

Haastrup, K. (1991) Lexical Inferencing or Talking about Words, Tubingen, Gunter Narr.

Haines, S., & Dallas, D. (2008). Hello! English for Secondary Schools. Egyptian International Publishing Company.

Hamzah, M. S. G., Kafipour, R., & Abdullah, S. K. (2009). Vocabulary learning strategies of Iranian undergraduate EFL students and its relation to their vocabulary size. European Journal of Social Sciences, 11(1), 39-50.

Huckin, T., & Coady, J. (1999). Incidental vocabulary acquisition in a second language. Studies in Second Language Acquisition,21, 181–193.

Hudson, T. (2007). Teaching Second Language Reading. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hulstijn, J. H. (1992) Retention of inferred and given word meanings: experiments in incidental vocabulary learning. In Arnaud, P. J. L. & Bejoint, H. (Eds.) Vocabulary and Applied Linguistics. London, Macmillan.

Hulstijn, J. H. (2001). Intentional and incidental second-language vocabulary learning: A reappraisal of elaboration, rehearsal and automaticity. In P. Robinson (Ed.), Cognition and second language instruction (pp. 258 – 86). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Hulstijn, J. H. (2003). Incidental and intentional learning. In C. Doughty & M. H. Long (Eds.), The handbook of second language research (pp. 349 – 81). London, England: Blackwell.

Hulstijn, J.H., & Laufer, B. (2001). Some empirical evidence for the involvement load Hypothesis in vocabulary acquisition. Language Learning, 51, 539-558

Hunt, A. & Beglar, D. (2005) A framework for developing EFL reading vocabulary. Reading in a Foreign Language, 17, 23-59.                       hypothesis in vocabulary acquisition. Language Learning, 51, 539-558.

Jenkins, J. R., Matlock, B., & Slocum, T. A. (1989). Two approaches to vocabulary instruction: the teaching of individual word meanings and practice in deriving word meaning from context. Reading Research Quarterly, 24, 215-235.

Khalaf, H.E. (2010). Using the strategy of inferring to develop reading comprehension of preparatory school students. Journal of Reading and Literacy, 108, (pp. 1-15). (Faculty of Education, Ain Shams University).

Koda, K. (2005). Insights into second language reading: A cross-linguistic approach. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Krashen, S. (1989). We Acquire Vocabulary and Spelling by Reading: Additional Evidence for the Input Hypothesis. The Modern Language Journal, 73(4), 440-464.

Ku, Y., & Anderson, R. C. (2003). Development of morphological awareness in Chinese and English. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 16, 399–422.

LaBerge, D., & Samuels, S.J. (1974). Toward a theory of automatic information processing in reading. Cognitive Psychology, 6, 293–323.

Lauder, A. (2010). Active vs Passive Vocabulary (online). [Accessed 22 October 2017] Available at

Laufer, B., & Goldstein, Z. (2004).Testing vocabulary knowledge: size, strength, and computer adaptiveness. Language Learning, 54, 399-436.

Linnenbrink, E. A., & Pintrich, P. R. (2003). The role of self-efficacy beliefs in student engagement and learning in the classroom. Reading and Writing Quarterly: Overcoming Learning Difficulties, 19 (2), 119–137. 10.1080/10573560308223

Liu, N. & Nation, I.S.P. (1985) Factors affecting guessing vocabulary in context. RELC Journal 16(1): 33-42.

Lo, W.L. (2004). The Effect of Lexical Inferencing on Vocabulary Learning and Reading Comprehension. Master’s Thesis. National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan. Retrieved from

Magogwe, J. M., & Oliver, R. (2007). The relationship between language learning strategies, proficiency, age and self-efficacy beliefs: A study of language learners in Botswana. System, 35, 338–352. 2007.01.003

Margolis, H; & Mccabe, P. (2006). Improving self-efficacy and motivation: What to do, what to say? Intervention in School and Clinic, 41 (4), 218-227. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service. No: EJ757868)

Martin-Chang, S.Y., & Gould, O.N. (2008). Revisiting print exposure: Exploring differential links to vocabulary, comprehension and reading rate. Journal of Research in Reading, 31, 273–284.

McBride-Chang, C., Tardif, T., Cho, J., Shu, H., Fletcher, P., Stokes, S. F., et al. (2008). What’s in aword? Morphological awareness and vocabulary knowledge in three languages. Applied Psycho-linguistics, 29, 437–462.

McInerny, D. (2014). Educational Psychology: Constructing Learning. 6th ed. Frenchs Forest NSW: Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd.

Meara, P. (2005). Lexical frequency profiles: A Monte Carlo analysis. Applied Linguistics, 26 (1), 32-47.

Mills, N., Pajares, F., & Herron, C. (2006). A Reevaluation of the Role of Anxiety: Self-Efficacy, Anxiety, and Their Relation to Reading and Listening Proficiency. Foreign Language Annals, 39 (2), 276-294.

Naigles, L. (1990). Children use syntax to learn verb meanings. Journal of Child Language, 17, 357–374 Napo. (n.d.). Common educational proficiency assessment (CEPA) for U.A.E. higher education [online]. [Accessed July, 2017]. Available at:

Naseri, M., & Zaferanieh, E. (2012). The relationship between reading self-efficacy beliefs, reading strategy use and reading comprehension level of Iranian EFL learners. World Journal of Education, 2(2), 64-75.

Nassaji, H. (2003). L2 vocabulary learning from context: Strategies, knowledge sources, and their relationship with success in L2 lexical inferencing. TESOL Quarterly, 37, 645-670.

Nation, I. S. P. (2001). Learning vocabulary in another language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

National Reading Panel. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel: Reports of the subgroups. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Health.

Nuttall, C.(1996). Teaching reading skills in a foreign language. Second edition. Oxford: Heinemann.

Nuttall, C. (2005). Teaching reading skills in a foreign language. Third edition. Oxford: MacMillan.

O’Malley, J. M., & Chamot, A. U. (1990). Learning strategies in second language acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Oxford, R.L. (1990). Language Learning Strategies: What Every Teacher Should Know. New York: Newbury House Publishers.

Oxford, R. L. (2003). Language learning styles and strategies: concepts and relationships. IRAL, 41, 271-278.

Pajares, F., & Urdan, T. (2006). Self-efficacy beliefs of adolescents. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

Paribakht, T. S., & Wesche, M. (1999). Reading and “incidental” L2 vocabulary acquisition: An intro-spective study of lexical inferencing. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 21, 195–224.

Pearson, P. D. & Gallagher, M. C. (1983). “The Instruction of Reading Comprehension,” Contemporary Educational Psychology, 8, pp. 317-344.

Pintrich, P. R., & De Groot, E. V. (1990). Motivational and self-regulated learning components of classroom academic performance.Journal of Educational Psychology, 82(1), 33–40.

Plag, I. (2003). Word-formation in English. Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Pulido, D. (2003). Modeling the role of L2 proficiency and topic familiarity in L2 incidental vocabulary acquisition through reading. Language Learning, 53, 233–284.

Qian, D.D. (2002). Investigating the relationship between vocabulary knowledge and academic reading performance: An assessment perspective. Language Learning, 52, 513–536.

Qoura, Y. A. (2014). The effectiveness of Metacognitive Strategy Training in Developing Vocabulary Learning and EFL Self-efficacy of Preparatory Stage Students. Master thesis. Faculty of Education, Mansoura University.

Rahimi , A., & Abedini , A. (2009). The Interface Between EFL Learners’ Self-efficacy Concerning Listening Comprehension and Listening Proficiency. Novitas-ROYAL, 3 (1), 14-28.

Richards, J.C. & Schmidt, R. (2002) Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics (3rd edition). Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

Ruddell, R. B. (1999). Teaching children to read and write: Becoming an influential teacher. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Rumelhart, D.E. (1977). Toward an interactive mode1 of reading. In S. Dornic (Ed.), Attention and performance. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlaum. 573-603.

Saunders, K.J. (2007). Word attack skills in individuals with mental retardation. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 13, 78-84.

Schmitt, N. (1997). Vocabulary learning strategies. In N. Schmitt & M. McCarthy (Eds.), Vocabulary: Description, acquisition and pedagogy (pp. 199-227). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Schmitt, N. (2010). Researching Vocabulary: A Vocabulary Research Manual. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Schmitt, N. & McCarthy, M. (2002). Vocabulary description, acquisition and pedagogy. Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.

Schunk, D. H. (1991). Self-efficacy for reading and writing: Influence of modeling, goal setting and self-evaluation. Reading and Writing Quarterly: Overcoming Learning Difficulties, 19 (2), 159–172.

Schunk, D. H. (2003). Self-efficacy for reading and writing: Influence of modeling, goal setting and self-evaluation. Reading and Writing Quarterly: Overcoming Learning Difficulties, 19 (2), 159–172.

Schunk, D. H., & Meece, J. L. (1992). Student perceptions in the classroom. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Shang, H. F. (2010). Reading strategy use, self-efficacy and EFL reading comprehension. Asian EFL Journal, 12(2), 18-42.

Shokouhi, H., & Askari, H. (2010). The effect of guessing vocabulary in reading authentic texts among pre-university students. Arizona working papers in SLA & teaching, 17, 75-89.

Smith, E; Wakely, M; Kruif, R & Swartz, C. (2003). Optimizing Rating Scales For Self-efficacy and other Research. Educational and Psychological Measurement, Vol. 63 No. 3,369-391.

Smith, F. (1994). Understanding Reading. Fifth Edition. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Stanovich, K. E. (1980). Toward an interactive-compensatory model of individual differences in the development of reading fluency. Reading Research Quarterly, 16, 32-71.

Thorburry, S. (2002). How to teach vocabulary. England:Pearson Education Limited.Ur, P., (1998). A course in language teaching.Cabridge University Press.

Tobing, I. (2013). The relationship of reading strategies and self-efficacy with the reading comprehension of high school students in Indonesia. (Doctoral Thesis, University of Kansas, USA). Retrieved from

Tomesen, M. & Aarnoutse, C. (1998). Effect of an instructional programme for deriving word meanings. Educational Studies 24 (1), 107–128.

Turkington, C & Harris, J. (2006). The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. (2nd ed.). New York: Facts On File, Inc.

Urquhart, A. H., & Weir, C. J. (1998). Reading in a second language: Process, product and practice. London and New York: Longman.

Usher, E. L., & Pajares, F. (2008). Sources of self-efficacy in school: Critical review of the literature and future directions. Review of Educational Research, 78,751–796. 10.3102/0034654308321456

Walters, J. (2006). Beyond exhortation: Training students of English as a second language to infer meaning from context (Doctoral Thesis, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom). Retrieved from

Wang, C., & Li, Y. (2010). An Empirical Study of Reading Self-efficacy and the Use of Reading Strategies in the Chinese EFL Context. The Asian EFL Journal Quarterly, 12 (2), 144-162.

Wang, J. (2011). A study of English Self-efficacy, English Reading Strategies, and English reading proficiency of Taiwanese junior high school students. (Master’s Thesis, Ming Chuan University, Taiwan). Retrieved from 0714111-220853

Williams, M. (1994). Motivation in foreign and second language learning: An integrative Perspective. Educational and Child Psychology, 11, 77-84.

Wu, Y. T. & Tsai, C. C. (2006). University students’ Internet attitudes and Internet self-efficacy: Astudy at three universities in Taiwan. Cyber Psychology & Behavior, 9(4), 73-86

Ying, S. (2001). Acquiring vocabulary through a context-based approach. Forum, 39, 1.

Zaid, M. (2009). A Comparison of inferencing and meaning-guessing of New Lexicon in Context versus Non-context Vocabulary Presentation. The Reading Matrix, 9(1), 56-66.

Zhang, D. & Koda, d. (2013) Morphological awareness and reading comprehension in a foreign language: A study of young Chinese EFL learners. System. 41, p. 901-913.



Hamdy Elmasry holds a Ph.D. in TEFL from Mansoura University, Egypt. Also, he received his masters in TESOL from the British University in Dubai, the UAE. He is currently an ESL instructor at a high school in the UAE. He has published a number of papers in a reputable journal and participated in many national and international conferences. His main interests are lexical inferencing, second language acquisition and differentiation strategies. ORCid ID: