Relationship between vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension of South African EFAL high school learners

  • Kufakunesu Zano University of South Africa
  • Nkidi Caroline Phatudi University of South Africa
Keywords: Vocabulary, Vocabulary Breadth, Vocabulary Depth, Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary Knowledge, English First Additional Language


This paper is based on a study that used a quantitative method research design to investigate the impact of English academic vocabulary on the reading comprehension ability of Grade 11 English First Additional Language (EFAL) learners in the Fezile Dabi district of the Free State province, in South Africa. Three tests were administered, namely, a Vocabulary Levels Test (VLT) which measured vocabulary breadth, and a Word Associate Test (WAT) which measured vocabulary depth and a reading comprehension test. The results obtained from the analysis of the data indicate that while both depth and breadth of vocabulary knowledge played an important role in the participating learners' reading comprehension performance, depth of vocabulary knowledge seemed to be a better predictor of comprehension ability than breadth of vocabulary knowledge. The results further reveal that depth and breadth of vocabulary knowledge are positively correlated.

Author Biographies

Kufakunesu Zano, University of South Africa
Kufakunesu Zano is a language specialist. His area of specialisation is in English first additional language teaching and bilingual/multilingual education.
Nkidi Caroline Phatudi, University of South Africa
Nkidi Phatudi is the chair of the Department of Early Childhood Education and an Associate Professor at UNISA. Her areas of specialisation are mother tongue teaching and English as a First Additional Language. She has published articles in accredited journals and has supervised postgraduate students to completion of their studies.