in the area of vocabulary teaching and learning although much research has been done, only some of it has led to effective techniques of vocabulary teaching and many language learners still have problem learning vocabulary. the urge behind this study was to investigate three methods of teaching words. the first one was teaching words in context based on a traditional method of teaching that is, the vocabulary items were taught through definitions and synonyms. in the second one, gaps were produced in the vicinity of the target words. like the former method, this one is also context-based. but unlike it in the vicinity method easy and simple words before or after the target words are deleted and students are required to fill in the blanks. the third method was teaching words in cloze passages, that is, the target words in the text were deleted, but they were given as scrambled options by which students completed the text. to see the effect of these three methods, out of 60 students learning english at pooyan language institute, semnan, iran 51 were chosen using a pre-test. they were randomly divided into three groups. a test was administered to make sure that the students did not know the target words. these words were taught in 5 sessions to the three groups using one of the three methods for each. immediate and delayed (after one week) post tests were administered and anova and t-test were used to analyze the results. anova was conducted to see if the three groups performed significantly differently in the delayed posttests immediate posttests. post hoc t-tests were applied to pinpoint where the significant difference in the performance of the three groups in the immediate and delayed posttests lay.
the results of both immediate (mean difference= 2.558, f=182.622) and delayed (mean difference= 2.514, f=61.784) post-tests showed that the vicinity method was by far more effective than teaching words in context. also it was revealed that there was no significant difference between the vicinity method and the cloze-passage method in short-term (mean difference= 0.102). but for long-term retention, the vicinity method was better than the cloze-passage method (mean difference= 10.323). besides, in the last session, all students were taught in all the three different methods. at the end of the last session, they were interviewed to elicit their reaction to the three methods. the results showed that students tended to favor the vicinity method.