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VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES FACULTY OF POST-GRADUATE STUDIES ********************* NGUYỄN THỊ MAI LIÊN A STUDY ON THE ROLE OF USING VIETNAMESE IN TEACHING ENGLISH VOCABULARY TO THE 10TH FORM ETHNIC MINORITY STUDENTS AT VUNG CAO VIET BAC HIGH SCHOOL Nghiên cứu về vai trò của việc sử dụng tiếng Việt trong dạy từ vựng tiếng Anh cho học sinh dân tộc thiểu số lớp 10 tại trường PT Vùng Cao Việt Bắc M.A MINOR PROGRAMME THESIS FIELD: ENGLISH TEACHING METHODOLOGY CODE: 60140111 Hanoi, 2014 VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES FACULTY OF POST-GRADUATE STUDIES ********************* NGUYỄN THỊ MAI LIÊN A STUDY ON THE ROLE OF USING VIETNAMESE IN TEACHING ENGLISH VOCABULARY TO THE 10TH FORM ETHNIC MINORITY STUDENTS AT VUNG CAO VIET BAC HIGH SCHOOL Nghiên cứu về vai trò của việc sử dụng tiếng Việt trong dạy từ vựng tiếng Anh cho học sinh dân tộc thiểu số lớp 10 tại trường PT Vùng Cao Việt Bắc M.A MINOR PROGRAMME THESIS FIELD: ENGLISH TEACHING METHODOLOGY CODE: 60140111 SUPERVISOR: DƯƠNG ĐỨC MINH, PhD. Hanoi, 2014 DECLARATION I, Nguyễn Thị Mai Liên, certify that the work presented in this study " A study on the role of using Vietnamese in teaching English vocabulary to the 10th form ethnic minority students at Vung Cao Viet Bac High School" is the result of my own research and the material has not been submitted either in whole or in part for any degree to any other university or institution. Hanoi, August, 2014 Student‟s signature Nguyễn Thị Mai Liên In my capacity as supervisor of the candidate's thesis, I certify that the above statements are true to the best of my knowledge. Supervisor Duong Duc Minh, Ph.D. i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS On the completion of this thesis, I greatfully express my deepest gratitude to my supervisor Dr. Duong Duc Minh who gave me his precious comments, expert advice and most of his kind encouragement during my doing research. Also, I would like to acknowledge my gratitude to all of the lecturers and the staff of the Department of Post-Graduate Studies at University of Languages and International Studies, Vietnam National University, Hanoi for their valuable lectures and supports. I am greatly indebted to my colleagues and students at Vung Cao Viet Bac high school for their enthusiasm, helpfulness, care and patience towards my interviews which grant great contributions for my thesis. Finally, I would like to express my special thanks to my parents, my husband and other members in my family for their love, care, support and encouragement so that I could accomplish my study . ii ABSTRACT The use of the first language in foreign language teaching and learning has long been a controversial issue. However, as a common phenomenon in English language learning, the influence of the first language can not be ignored especially with low proficiency learners. This paper aims at providing the evidence to the role of using the first language (Vietnamese) in vocabulary teaching and learning process. For these purposes, nearly 200 students of four classes of grade 10th and 6 teachers of English Department at Vung Cao Viet Bac high school were participants of the research. Three research tools were used to gather the data: questionnaire, interview and observation. The findings of the research were totally true to the research hypotheses. First, Vietnamese is still widely used to teach and learn vocabulary by teachers and students of Vung Cao Viet Bac high school. Frequent using of Vietnamese for words‟ explanation, habit of using bilingual dictionary to look up new words and doing translation exercises to practice new words are the evidences for the findings. Most of participants found using Vietnamese effective to their teaching and learning vocabulary, therefore they often apply it to improve vocabulary acquisition. iii LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS L1 : First language L2 : Second language ESL: English as a second language iv LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES Table 1 ....................................................................................................................... 19 Table 2 ....................................................................................................................... 20 Table 3 ....................................................................................................................... 21 Table 4 ....................................................................................................................... 23 Table 5 ....................................................................................................................... 27 Table 6 ....................................................................................................................... 28 FIGURE 1 ................................................................................................................. 22 FIGURE 2 ................................................................................................................. 24 FIGURE 3 ................................................................................................................. 25 FIGURE 4 ................................................................................................................. 25 FIGURE 5 ................................................................................................................. 26 v TABLE OF CONTENTS DECLARATION ..................................................................................................... i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ................................................................................... ii ABSTRACT ........................................................................................................... iii LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS............................................................................... iv LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES ......................................................................v TABLE OF CONTENTS ...................................................................................... vi PART A: INTRODUCTION ..................................................................................1 1. Rationale of the Study ...........................................................................................1 2. The Aims of the Study ..........................................................................................2 3. Research Questions ...............................................................................................2 4. The Scope of the Study .........................................................................................2 5. The Methods of the Study .....................................................................................2 6. Design of the Study ...............................................................................................3 7. The Summary ........................................................................................................3 PART B: DEVELOPMENT...................................................................................4 CHAPTER 1: LITERATURE REVIEW ..............................................................4 1.1 Vocabulary ..........................................................................................................4 1.1.1 What is Vocabulary? ..................................................................................4 1.1.2 The roles of Vocabulary in Second Language Acquisison ........................5 1.1.3 Approaches to Vocabulary Teaching .........................................................6 1.1.4 Explicit and Incidental Vocabulary Learning.............................................7 1.2 L1 and Translation in Second Vocabulary Language Teaching .........................8 1.2.1 Translation Method in Language Teaching ................................................8 1.2.2 The Roles of First Language on the Second Language ..............................9 1.2.3 The Use of Translation to Facilitate Vocabulary Teaching .....................11 1.2.4 Empirical Studies of Translation Method in Vocabulary Teaching and Learning ...............................................................................................................12 1.3 Chapter Summary..............................................................................................14 CHAPTER 2: METHODOLOGY .......................................................................15 2.1. Participants and Setting of the Study ...............................................................15 vi 2.2 Data Collection ..................................................................................................15 2.2.1. Data Collection Instruments ....................................................................15 2.2.2 Data Collection Procedures ......................................................................18 2.2.3 Data Analysis Procedure ..........................................................................18 2.3 Chapter Summary..............................................................................................18 CHAPTER 3: FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION .................................................19 3.1 Findings .............................................................................................................19 3.1.1 Findings and Discussion of Survey Questionnaires .................................19 3.1.1.1 Analysis of Teacher Questionnaires‟ Results: .................................19 3.1.1.2 Analysis of Student Questionnaires‟ Results: ..................................23 3.1.2 Findings and Discussion of Class Observations .......................................27 3.1.3 Findings and Discussion of Interviews.....................................................30 3.1.3.1 Summary of Teachers‟ Interviews ...................................................30 3.2 Discussion .........................................................................................................33 3.3 Pedagogical Implications ..................................................................................34 3.4 Chapter Summary..............................................................................................34 PART C: CONCLUSIONS ..................................................................................35 1. Conclusions .........................................................................................................35 2. Limitations of the Study ......................................................................................35 3. Suggestions for Further Study.............................................................................36 REFERENCES ......................................................................................................37 APPENDICES............................................................................................................I vii PART A: INTRODUCTION 1. Rationale of the Study Vocabulary forms the biggest part of the meaning of any language, and it is the biggest problem for most learners, as described by Mc Carthy (“Interview”, 2001:2, cited in Fan, 2003:222). Mc Carthy firmly believes that language is lexis-driven, and therefore, vocabulary learning is the real key to second language learning. He claims that learners will be more successful if they can develop their own techniques and disciplines for vocabulary learning. Therefore, an effective approach to vocabulary is always one of the great concerns of every language teacher. A recent study by Ramachandran and Rahim (2004) investigated the effectiveness of using the L1 translation in recalling the meaning and retention of the words with elementary level ESL. Their results indicated that the translation method through using the first language was more effective than the non-translation method in enhancing ESL learners‟ vocabulary learning ability, and it could improve elementary ESL learner‟s ability to recall the meaning of the word learnt. Auer Bach (1993) claims that the use of the learner‟s L1 in the L2 classroom will have a positive effect on learners‟ second language learning, especially in the area of vocabulary. Personally, the researcher is interested in the findings of many researchers including Nation (2001) and Kroll and Curley (1988) that new second language words are stored more effectively in the brain when they are linked to their first language equivalents. At Vung cao Viet Bac High school, with more than 2,000 ethnic minority students coming from different minority groups, each ethnic group has its own language, but Vietnamese is nominated the national language. As far as I can observe, these learners are much in favour of using Vietnamese when learning English vocabulary. This has motivated me to carry out this study, which aims at finding the answer for the question about the real situation of using Vietnamese and its role in vocabulary teaching and learning. Hopefully, findings will reaffirm the use of L1 as a strategic teaching method within the field of vocabulary acquisition. Furthermore, it is to partially help English foreign language teachers have a reflection on their teaching practice. 1 2. The Aims of the Study The research is aimed to investigate the role of using Vietnamese in teaching vocabulary to the 10th form students at Vung cao Viet Bac High School. The objectives of the study are: - to investigate how frequently Vietnamese is used in vocabulary teaching and learning of teachers and students. - to explore the teachers and students‟ perceptions of the effectiveness of using Vietnamese in teaching and learning vocabulary 3. Research Questions 1. How is Vietnamese used in vocabulary teaching to 10th form students at Vung Cao Viet Bac High School? 2. How effective do teachers and students find the use of Vietnamese to their vocabulary teaching and learning? 4. The Scope of the Study The study limits itself to the role of using Vietnamese in teaching English Vocabulary. The effectiveness of this technique would be explored from the perception of the students and teachers. The study was carried out only with tenth form students and the teachers who are in charge of English teaching to those students at Vung cao Viet Bac High school in Thai Nguyen 5. The Methods of the Study Both qualitative and quantitative research methods are used in this study, including Questionnaire, classroom observations and interviews. Questionnaires Both open-ended and close-ended questions were administered to 200 students and 6 English teachers to find out their perceived effectiveness of Vietnamese use on vocabulary teaching and learning. Classroom Observations Five periods (of about 45 minutes in length) taught by different teachers were observed to find out how was Vietnamese used to teach vocabulary in the class. 2 Interviews Teacher interviews were conducted to obtain a better understanding of the teachers‟ perceptions towards the effectiveness of using Vietnamese in teaching English vocabulary. The interviews were transcribed fully and analyzed qualitatively. 6. Design of the Study The author chose survey research to do this study because of many reasons. First of all, the author could gather a great number of opinions from participants. As the aim of this study was to investigate the application of using Vietnamese in teaching English vocabulary, the researcher needed a big number of participants to get the most reliable result. The author could save a lot of time by getting the answers from delivering questionnaires in class and then interviewing some participants in person. The research adopted a mixed methodology – both qualitative and quantitative approaches in data collection and data analysis. The study consisted of 5 chapters which covered the introduction of the research, the literature review, the methodology, findings and discussion and the conclusion chapter. There are three instruments which were used in this study, namely questionnaire, interview and observation. Therefore the author could have very reliable findings at the end. The questionnaires were delivered to all participants with both close questions and open questions so that they can specify their opinions. The researcher did the observation on her own with the checklist at class. The interviews consisted of semi-structured interviews and free interviews. The researcher interviewed three teachers who had just taught the observed periods. 7. Summary In this the first part, the author introduced the thesis with the aims that inspired her to conduct the study as well as the research questions. The author also presented the scope of the study that the thesis‟s focus was the role of Vietnamese use in vocabulary teaching and learning so she did not pay attention equally to all lessons of the participants. 3 PART B: DEVELOPMENT Part B consists of three chapters: literature review; methodology and findings and discussion. CHAPTER 1: LITERATURE REVIEW This chapter focuses on providing an overview of the theoretical knowledge relevant to the study including vocabulary and its roles in second language acquisition, recent research about teaching and learning second language vocabulary, L1 and translation in second vocabulary language teaching and the summaries of previous researches on closely –related topics. 1.1 Vocabulary 1.1.1 What is Vocabulary? Vocabulary is a matter which many linguists and language teachers have been concerned for a long time. Vocabulary is defined differently by different scholars. Below some definitions of vocabulary that are relevant to the present study are introduced. In The American Heritage Dictionary, “vocabulary” is defined as: 1. All words of a language. 2. The sum of words used by, understood by, or at the command of a particular person or a group. 3. A list of words and often phrases, usually arranged alphabetically and defined or translated; a lexicon or glossary. It‟s apparent that above definition show the relationship between vocabulary and words. In other words vocabulary is defined as words. However, it seems important to see clear definitions, a concise explanation as sited as follow: "Vocabulary can be defined, roughly, as the words we teach in the foreign language. However, a new item of vocabulary may be more than a single word: for example, post office, and mother-in- law, which are made up of two or three words but express a single idea. A useful conversation is to cover all such cases by talking about vocabulary “items” rather than “word” which is made up of two or three words but express a single idea.’‟ (Ur, 1996:60) 4 According to Ur, vocabulary should be recognized as words we teach in a foreign language. Ur argues a vocabulary item can be either a single word or a multi-word phrase. In conclusion, there are many different definitions about vocabulary, but the idea that vocabulary is the total number of words existing in a language, including single words as well as multi-word items of which meaning cannot be deduced from the analysis of the component words but only understood in the sentences; or in contexts, is more favorable. 1.1.2 The Roles of Vocabulary in Second Language Acquisison It is known that, in learning a foreign language in general, and English in particular, the knowledge and mastery of vocabulary play an extremely important role. Mc Carthy (1990) stated that: “No matter how well the students learn grammar, no matter how successfully the sounds of L2 are mastered, without words to express a wider range of meanings, communication in an L2 just cannot happen in any meaningful way”. (Mc Carthy, 1990:viii) Pyles and Algeo (1970:96) noted that: "When we first think about the language, we think about words. It is words that we arrange together to make sentences, conversations and discourse of all kind". In fact, vocabulary is the element that links the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing all together. In order to communicate well in a foreign language, students should acquire an adequate number of words and should know how to use them accurately. Wilkins emphasized the importance of vocabulary learning: "Without grammar very little can be conveyed; without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed." (Wilkins, 1972:111) Cook‟s (1991) conclusion is also consistent with Wilkins in that “Grammar provides the overall patterns, vocabulary the material to put into those patterns”. Or some authors, led by Lewis (1993) argue that vocabulary should be at the centre of language teaching, because „language consists of grammaticalised lexis, not lexicalised grammar‟. According to Meara (1995) central to learning to communicate in the target language are vocabulary and lexical units. No amount of grammatical or 5 other type of linguistics knowledge can be employed in communication or discourse without the mediation of vocabulary. Folse (2004:3 ) claims that: “The lack of grammar knowledge can limit conversation; lack of vocabulary knowledge can stop conversation”. (Folse, 2004:3) Learners can express themselves with poor grammar. However, it is always a challenge to get the message across in a foreign language (Wallace, 1982), and because of this communication in foreign language is constrained considerably to those with limited vocabulary. Thus, the importance of vocabulary in language learning cannot be denied. Vocabulary learning is obviously an essential part of language learning. Learning words can considered to be the most important aspect of second language acquisition (Knight, 1994). Candlin (1988) stated that “The study of vocabulary is at the heart of language teaching in terms of organization of syllabuses, the evaluation of learner performances, and the provision of learning resources.” 1.1.3 Approaches to Vocabulary Teaching There are many different methods, approaches, techniques as well as strategies to vocabulary teaching. In the early decades of the 20th century, vocabulary teaching became the focus of interest of many applied linguistic researchers and language teachers. In order to fully understand this development it is certainly worth giving a brief discussion of some major approaches in teaching vocabulary. It can be easily seen that several hundred years ago, bilingual teaching was favoured, with students learning through translation. Howatt (1984) tells us that the idea of using L1 in the L2 classroom was a respected view during the era of The Grammar Translation Method. The Grammar Translation Method had dominated late 19th and early 20th century teaching. The aim of The Grammar Translation Method was to provide the students with a detailed literary vocabulary which is learned through long lists of translated items and a bilingual dictionary and practiced through translation excercises with little opportunity to try out pronunciation (Rivers, 1981: 28-30). The second major foreign language teaching approach is the Direct Method. The Direct Method stressed the ability to use rather than analyze a language as the 6 goal of language instruction or in other words, the main goal was to train students to communicate in the target language and to have an acceptable pronunciation. The Reading approach attracted more importance than grammatical skill. The vocabulary used in the reading passages is controlled at beginning levels and is chosen according to their frequency and usefulness. The acquisition of vocabulary is considered to be more important than grammatical skills and is expanded as fast as possible through intensive and extensive reading. The translation of vocabulary items and sentences are permitted. (Murcia and Prator, 1979:3) The Audio-lingual Approach which was dominant in the United States during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s is known to be a major paradigm shift in foreign language teaching (Larsen-Freeman, 2000). In this method, the amount of vocabulary presented was kept low (Thornbury, 2002:14) and was chosen for its simplicity (Schmitt, 2000:13). It was assumed that when grammatical fluency was present, exposure to the foreign language itself lead to vocabulary development (Coady, 1993:4). The Communicative Language Teaching Approach is a renowned British Approach to language teaching the emergence of which dates back to the mid-1960s. Concepts like context, use, effective communication, communicative function, comprehensible pronunciation, etc. were given importance in this approach. Senel (2002: 243) emphasized that new words were not presented in isolation, but in the context of a complete sentence, and in a meaningful situation. This way, the words acquired meaning when they appeared in a particular definition in a determined context. Moreover, Thornbury (2002:14) stated that course books began to incorporate communicative activities specifically targeting vocabulary since the meaning-giving role of lexis was recognized in this approach. 1.1.4 Explicit and Incidental Vocabulary Learning Explicit vocabulary learning focuses on teaching vocabulary directly to learners in order to enhance the chance of new vocabulary acquisition. Even though that explicit teaching strategy is time consuming, it is worth the time to teach second learners the most frequent words in a language and technical vocabulary that learners will need in order to succeed in their education field. 7 On the other hand, incidental vocabulary learning can occur when learners focused on comprehending meaning rather than focusing on learning new vocabulary (Gass and Selinker, 2001). Incidental learning can occur from reading or from having conversations with others who speak the language. Words that not explicitly taught can be learned incidentally from exposure. It is necessary to increase the amount of exposure in order to enhance the incidental vocabulary learning because the lack of exposure is one of the problems facing the incidental approach (Schmitt, 2000). A learner can start learning vocabulary incidentally from conversation from the beginning, but when it comes to reading, a certain amount of explicit instruction is necessary. Written language usually uses more low frequency vocabulary than spoken language; thus, teaching these infrequent words explicitly for second language learners is necessary especially for learners at elementary levels. Thus, explicit teaching is necessary for low proficiency learners until they reach a vocabulary size threshold that allows them to learn words incidentally from reading (Schmitt, 2000). Sokmen (1997) states that “the pendulum has swung from direct teaching of vocabulary (the grammar translation method) to incidental (the communicative approach) and now, (laudably, back to the middle: implicit and explicit learning” (as cited in Schmitt (2000: 120). These studies suggest that both explicit and incidental learning are necessary, and they should complement each other. In conclusion, both incidental and explicit learning are necessary and they should be used together to bring the highest effectiveness. 1.2 L1 and Translation in Second Vocabulary Language Teaching 1.2.1 Translation Method in Language Teaching Grammar Translation Method was the predominant teaching methodology from the beginning of the nineteenth century. It was developed based on a procedure for teaching Latin and evolved out of the need to standardize foreign language teaching for children (Howatt, 1984, as cited in Schmitt, 2000). Students were given extensive grammatical explanation in their first language, lists of bilingual vocabulary, and some practice exercises to translate from the first language into the second language or vice versa. In this method, the content focused more on reading 8 and writing skills. Vocabulary was only used as a way of illustrating grammar rules (Zimmerman, 1997, as cited in Schmitt, 2000). Students were expected to learn new vocabulary themselves by using bilingual word lists; thus, the bilingual dictionaries became an important reference tool. Steinberg and Sciarini (2006: 114) stated that the Grammar- Translation Method “has enjoyed and continues to enjoy acceptance in many countries around the world,” especially in countries where language teachers are not fluent and the classes are very large. Although it has advantages, there are many problems associated with the Grammar-Translation Method. One of the main problems with Grammar-Translation Method was that it focused on language analysis instead of language use. It also focused on reading and writing skills which did not help to develop the ability to communicate orally in the target language (Schmitt, 2000). Therefore, this method aims at providing students with a detailed literary vocabulary which is learned through long lists of translated items and a bilingual dictionary and practiced through sentence translation with little opportunity to try out pronunciation (Rivers, 1981:2830). Murcia and Prator (1979:3) listed major characteristics of Translation Method:  Classes are taught in the mother tongue, with little active use of target language  Much vocabulary is taught in the form of lists of isolated words.  Long elaborate explanations of the intricacies of grammar are given.  Grammar provides the rules for putting the words together and instruction often focuses on the form and inflections of words.  Reading of difficult classical texts is begun early.  Little attention is paid to the content of texts, which are treated as exercises in grammatical analysis.  Often the only drills are exercises in translating disconnected sentences from the target language into the mother tongue.  Little or no attention is given to pronunciation. 1.2.2 The Roles of First Language in the Second Language Many researchers have found out that the learners‟ first language has great influence on the learning and the use of second languages. Second language learners use their L1 in learning the target language in many ways. Many Vietnamese students 9 have ever said “What is the Vietnamese word for...?”, if they do not get the answer, immediately they will look up the bilingual dictionaries to find unknown vocabulary. Even though when this does not happen, an immediate association with a mother – tongue word is likely to be set as soon as possible. There are complaints about the influence of the first language on second language vocabulary learning because it takes time for students and teachers to think in the first language before they have the right word in second language. However it even takes more time to explain a word without translating because the teacher has to spend several minutes to find other simple words or materials to make students understand. According to Schmitt (Schmitt, 1997) many second language learners believe that translating helps them in learning second language skills such as reading, writing, vocabulay. Atkinson (1987) not only acknowledges the positive role of the mother tongue in the classroom, but also identifies the following uses of it: eliciting language, checking comprehension, giving instructions, enhancing co-operation among learners, promoting discussions of classroom methodology, improving presentation and reinforcement of language, checking for sense testing, and development of useful learning strategies. The following are several reasons why the first languages should be used as a tool in the language classroom:  It is more natural to use the first language with others who have the same first language.  It is easier and more communicatively effective to use the first language.  Using the second language can be a source of embarrassment particularly for shy learners and those who feel they are not very proficient in the second language.  The first language can help to move the task along by establishing a joint understanding of the text and to manage the task.  The first language allows learners to focus attention on vocabulary and grammatical items or providing information and explanation about grammatical rules and conventions.  The first language may facilitate classroom activities, particularly for low proficiency students and complex tasks. 10  The first language can provide a foundation for learners on which to build the second language structures, especially during collective activities in the classroom, and the first language provides a sense of security and validates the learners‟ live experiences, allowing them to express themselves.  The first language can make learners feel more confident of using the second language, especially when their level is low.  Using the first language to explain, teachers can save a lot of time. On the contrary, using the first language causes some interference errors in English because there is not always equivalence between the two languages. Some languages like Swedish and English share some characteristics which led learners to think that a word or structure what works in Swedish will work in English. Sokmen (1997) states that vocabulary teaching was based on a top – down, naturalistic, and communicative approach which emphasized implicit and incidental learning of vocabulary. Inferring from the context and guessing are considered to be implicit teaching. The implicit approach is commonly used in foreign language teaching classrooms. Teachers often encourage students to guess the meaning of the word by looking at the context where the words are located. They rarely use the first language in the classroom because they are concerned that students may just rely on their first language. Using the first language may lead students to the conclusion that learning a foreign language is just by translating it or foreign language is the first language in another form. In short, the first language may support learners to learn the second language, once they understand their first language they can apply it into their second language learning. Sometimes it may not help, and it even causes difficulties for learners because of the two language differences. 1.2.3 The Use of Translation to Facilitate Vocabulary Teaching As it was discussed in the previous section, learners‟ first language has a great impact in the learning of the second language. Thus, we come to the question: should translation be used in teaching and testing second language vocabulary? There may be a belief that first language translation should not be used in the teaching of vocabulary. However, translation is one of number of ways of conveying meaning 11
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