The Effect of Games on Vocabulary Learning Retention: First Year Natural Science Students at Jimma University, Ethiopia in Focus
Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) have problems of how to teach vocabulary to students in order to gain satisfying results. EFL learners also have challenges with effectively remembering, retaining and retrieving the newly learned English vocabulary. In addition, they have limited exposure to practicing English outside the classroom, as using the language is usually limited in the classroom. As a result, they have inadequate knowledge of vocabulary which impacts on students’ inability to express themselves. Therefore, vocabulary has to be taught in schools using different creative and interesting methods, one of which is using games. This study aims to figure out the effect of games on vocabulary learning retention of First Year Natural Science Students at Jimma University in Ethiopia. The study was conducted during the first semester of 2021, in which 82 participants were enrolled, 41 in treatment group and 41 in control group using non-probability sampling. Data were collected using pretest proficiency test, immediate posttest and delayed posttest. The study lasted for one and half months in which the students were taught unfamiliar vocabulary from their Communicative English Skills course material. The experimental group was taught the target vocabulary through games, while the control group was taught using the conventional method. An independent samples t-test was run, and findings of both the immediate posttest and delayed posttest revealed significant differences between the treatment and control groups with p-values of .0001 for the immediate posttest and .029 for the delayed posttest, respectively. Accordingly, it can be concluded that games help students to retain unfamiliar vocabulary.