Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Education Theory and Practice

Content Description

1 online resource (35 pages) : illustrations (1 color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Istvan Kecskes

Committee Members

Robert E Sanders


Synergetics, Vietnamese language, English language, Second language acquisition

Subject Categories



One of the most common mistakes that foreign/second language learners make is inappropriate word choice, which results from the lack of knowledge of the conceptual content contained in a word. I have experienced this difficulty myself as a foreign learner of English for more than ten years; and as an English teacher for about three years in Vietnam, I understand that grasping the conceptual content of English words is quite challenging for Vietnamese learners. It has long been a tradition that the teacher gives the translation of an English word to the student, and the student consequently just puts a Vietnamese label on the new English word using their Vietnamese conceptual base. Students are rarely made aware of the possible synergic parts between the concepts encoded in English and their Vietnamese equivalent words. Also, there has been no research either in English or Vietnamese that touches on the phenomenon of synergic concepts between the two languages. This paper therefore is intended to (1) systematize the cases where English and Vietnamese concepts can be synergized, (2) identify the types of synergic concepts that are most difficult for Vietnamese learners to master, and (3) examine if advanced students with higher proficiency of English and deeper knowledge of American and British cultures are better than intermediate students in understanding English - Vietnamese synergic concepts. For the purpose of the study, a questionnaire including twelve items was employed to assess students' knowledge of the concepts contained in some English words. There were 29 freshman and 29 senior English-majored students participating in filling out the questionnaire. The major findings of this study are (1) type 4 of synergic concepts (see part III) was most difficult for the freshman students and type 5 was the most difficult for the seniors, (2) although the senior group was better than the freshman group, both groups had significant difficulty in understanding the synergic concepts.

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