The Acquisition of Subject-specific Vocabulary: A Focus on a Collaborative Dictogloss Task and Teacher Perceptions

By Francesca Sweeney-Androulaki, Maria Koutraki, Kallia Katsampoxaki-Hodgetts, Veroniki Ladopoulos and Kiki Divini.

Published by The International Journal of Pedagogy and Curriculum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: May 19, 2014 $US5.00

This research article discusses aspects of collaborative learning in group activities at the tertiary level, drawing upon the dictogloss method of teaching/learning. Three tests were administered with the aim of measuring the effectiveness of dictogloss as a means of acquiring subject-specific vocabulary. The research was interdisciplinary, and took place at the University of Crete (School of Science and Technology, and the School of Medicine). Subjects comprised 140 first- and second-year undergraduate students. The method involved students working individually or collaboratively in order to reconstruct a subject-specific text read twice by the instructor. Students of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) need to be able to negotiate language in context, as well as build a subject-specific vocabulary bank. The study, though lacking in definitive findings, has convinced the research team that dictogloss-related activities are a multifaceted tool in the teaching of ESP. This study recommends the adoption of dictogloss as a means of acquiring and retaining subject-specific vocabulary; it also advocates for a shift towards the integration of more student-student interaction, negotiation of meaning and form, and collaborative tasks within ESP.

Keywords: Dictogloss, Subject-specific Vocabulary, Collaborative Learning, English for Specific Purposes, ESP, Teacher Perceptions

International Journal of Pedagogy and Curriculum, Volume 20, Issue 4, November 2014, pp.1-23. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 19, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1003.673KB)).

Francesca Sweeney-Androulaki

University of Crete, Greece

Maria Koutraki

Instructor of English, School of Science and technology, School of Medicine, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece

Teaches English at the University since 2000. She has taught in the Departments of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Crete, as well as the Departments of Tourism, Accounting, Nursing, Multimedia and Mechanical Engineering in the Technological Educational Institute of Heraklion. She holds a Masters in Translation Studies (Greek – English – Greek Economic, Technical, Socio-Legal translation and terminology), University of Surrey, UK.

Kallia Katsampoxaki-Hodgetts

Instructor of English for Academic Purposes, School of Science and Technology, and School of Medicine, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece

Teaches ESP in the Departments of Chemistry (since 2001) and Maths (since 2011) and holds an MEd. TEFL (Masters of Education in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, University of Bristol, UK, 2001). She is the author of the textbook, English For Chemistry Foundation Course, currently used in class. She has also written material supplementing the optional course, English for Academic purposes and Chemistry terminology (Technical writing). She has also taught English for Biology, Business English, English for Secretaries and English for Tourism.

Veroniki Ladopoulos


Kiki Divini

University of Crete, Greece