Advertisement

Retention of Inferred and Given Word Meanings: Experiments in Incidental Vocabulary Learning

  • Jan H. Hulstijn

Abstract

One of the much debated issues in foreign/second language (henceforth L2) pedagogy presently is the following question: What is more effective and efficient for L2 vocabulary acquisition: (a) letting L2 learners infer the meaning of an unknown word occurring in an L2 text, using the information contained in the context, or (b) simply giving learners the meaning of the unknown word right away, e.g. by providing a translation in the mother tongue (Ll) or a synonym in L2? Some researchers (e.g. Bialystok, 1983; Nation, 1982; Nation and Coady, 1988; Schouten-van Parreren, 1985, 1986) have suggested that new words can best be learnt when presented in texts and when their meaning must be inferred from context by learners themselves. This point of view is based on two assumptions (Craik and Tulving, 1975; Jacoby, 1978; Jacoby and Craik, 1979; Jacoby, Craik and Begg, 1979):
  1. (a)

    When subjects have to infer or induce the solution of a problem, they will invest more mental effort than when they are given the solution to the problem.

     
  2. (b)

    Information that has been attained with more mental effort can later be better retrieved and recalled than information that has been attained with less mental effort.

     

Keywords

Target Word Incidental Learning Unknown Word Meaning Test Incidental Learning Task 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bensoussan, M. and Laufer, B. (1984). ‘Lexical guessing in context in EFL reading comprehension’, Journal of Research in Reading, Vol. 7, pp. 15–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bialystok, E. (1983). ‘Inferencing: testing the “Hypothesis-Testing” hypothesis’, in Seliger, H.W. and Long, M.H. (eds), Classroom-Oriented Research in Second-Language Acquisition. Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House, pp. 104–23.Google Scholar
  3. Carnine, D., Kameenui, E.J. and Coyle, G. (1984). ‘Utilization of contextual information in determining the meaning of unfamiliar words’, Reading Research Quarterly, Vol. 19, pp. 188–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Craik, F.I.M. and Tulving, E. (1975). ‘Depth of processing and the retention of words in episodic memory’, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Vol. 104, pp. 268–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Eysenck, M.W. (1982). ‘Incidental learning and orienting tasks’, in Puff, C.R. (ed.), Handbook of Research Methods in Human Memory and Cognition. New York: Academic Press, 197–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hulstijn, J.H. (1989). Experiments with semi-artificial input in secondlanguage acquisition research, in Hammarberg, B. (ed.). Language Learning and Learner Language. Papers from a conference held in Stockholm and Åbo, 17–18 October 1988. Scandinavian Working Papers on Bilingualism (University of Stockholm: Centre for Research on Bilingualism), Vol. 8, pp. 20–40.Google Scholar
  7. Jacoby, L.L. (1978). ‘On interpreting the effects of repetition: solving a problem versus remembering a solution’, Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, Vol. 17, pp. 649–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Jacoby, L.L. and Craik, F.I.M. (1979). ‘Effects of elaboration of processing at encoding and retrieval: trace distinctiveness and recovery of initial context’, in Cemak, L.S. and Craik, F.I.M. (eds), Levels of Processing in Human Memory. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, pp. 1–21.Google Scholar
  9. Jacoby, L.L., Craik, F.I.M. and Begg, I. (1979). ‘Effects of decision difficulty on recognition and recall’, Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, Vol. 18, pp. 586–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kelly, P. (1989). ‘Guessing: no substitute for systematic learning of lexis’. MS, University of Namur (Belgium).Google Scholar
  11. Koster, C. (1985). Het raden van woorden [Een bespreking van: Schouten-van Parreren, C. (1985). Woorden leren in het vreemdetalenonderwijs. Apeldorn: Van Walraven]. Toegepaste Taalwetenschap in Artikelen, Vol. 23, pp. 135–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Laufer, B. and Sim, D.D. (1985, April). ‘Taking the easy way out: non-use and misuse of clues in EFL reading’, English Teaching Forum, pp. 7–10.Google Scholar
  13. McKeown, M.G. (1985). ‘The acquisition of word meaning from context by children of high and low ability’, Reading Research Quarterly, Vol. 20, pp. 482–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Nagy, W.E., Anderson, R.C. and Herman, P.A. (1987). ‘Learning word meanings from context during normal reading’, American Educational Research Journal, Vol. 24, pp. 237–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Nation, P. (1982). ‘Beginning to learn foreign vocabulary: a review of the research’, RELC Journal, Vol. 13, pp. 14–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Nation, P. and Coady, J. (1988). ‘Vocabulary and reading’, in Carter, R. and McCarthy, M.J. (eds), Vocabulary and Language Teaching. London: Longman, pp. 97–110.Google Scholar
  17. Schouten-van Parreren, C. (1980). ‘Vreemdtalige woorden: De betekenis onmiddelijk geven of eerst laten raden?’, Toegepaste Taalwetenschap in Artikelen, Vol. 7, pp. 156–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Schouten-van Parreren, C. (1985). Woorden leren in het vreemdetalenonderwijs. Apeldoorn: Van Walraven.Google Scholar
  19. Schouten-van Parreren, C. (1986). ‘Nieuwe perspectieven op de didactiek van de woordenschatverwerving’, Levende Talen, Vol. 416, pp. 618–25.Google Scholar
  20. Stip, P. and Hulstijn, J.H. (1986). ‘Hoe geef je het goede voorbeeld? Woordenschatuitbreiding met behulp van voorbeeldzinnen’, Toegepaste Taalwetenschap in Artikelen, Vol. 25, pp. 118–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan H. Hulstijn

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations