Reading in a Foreign Language    ISSN 1539-0578
Volume 20, Number 2, October 2008

Incidental vocabulary acquisition from reading, reading-while-listening, and listening
Ronan Brown, Rob Waring, and Sangrawee Donkaewbua

This study examined the rate at which English vocabulary was acquired from the 3 input modes of reading, reading-while-listening, and listening to stories. It selected 3 sets of 28 words within 4 frequency bands and administered 2 test types immediately after the reading and listening treatments, 1 week later and 3 months later. The results showed that new words could be learned incidentally in all 3 modes, but that most words were not learned. Items occurring more frequently in the text were more likely to be learned and were more resistant to decay. The data demonstrated that, on average, when subjects were tested by unprompted recall, the meaning of only 1 of the 28 items met in either of the reading modes and the meaning of none of the items met in the listening-only mode, would be retained after 3 months.
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The virtuous circle: Modeling individual differences in L2 reading and vocabulary
Diana Pulido and David Z. Hambrick

The present study investigated the relative contributions of experiential and ability factors to second language (L2) passage comprehension and L2 vocabulary retention. Participants included a cross section of 99 adult learners of Spanish as a foreign language enrolled in beginning through advanced level university Spanish courses. Participants completed a standardized reading proficiency test (Adult Basic Learning Examination, Spanish version) to verify a range in proficiency, a checklist and translation passage sight vocabulary test, and a written recall in the native language of the 4 passages that were read. Vocabulary retention was measured at 2 time intervals by a multiple-choice test of receptive retention of meaning of targeted vocabulary. Data were analyzed using structural equation modeling (SEM). Results revealed consistent support for the following model: (a) Language processing experience positively influenced L2 passage sight vocabulary; (b) L2 passage sight vocabulary positively influenced narrative passage comprehension; and (c) L2 comprehension positively influenced L2 vocabulary growth.
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Beyond raw frequency: Incidental vocabulary acquisition in extensive reading
Soo-Ok Kweon and Hae-Ri Kim

Second language vocabulary can be learned incidentally while the learner is engaged in extensive reading or reading for meaning, inferring the meaning of unknown words (Huckin & Coady, 1999; Hulstijn, 1992; Krashen, 1993; Pigada & Schmitt, 2006). 12 Korean learners of English read authentic literary texts and were tested on their knowledge of vocabulary before reading (pretest), immediately after reading (Posttest 1), and 1 month after Posttest 1 (Posttest 2). The results showed a significant word gain between the pretest and Posttest 1 and that most gained words were retained at Posttest 2. Of the 3 different word classes that were used, nouns were a little easier to retain than verbs and adjectives. More frequent words were more easily learned than less frequent words across all 3 word classes. However, words of lower frequency were better learned than words of higher frequency when the meanings of the lower frequency words were crucial for meaning comprehension.
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Evaluating L2 readers’ vocabulary strategies and dictionary use
Caleb Prichard

A review of the relevant literature concerning second language dictionary use while reading suggests that selective dictionary use may lead to improved comprehension and efficient vocabulary development. This study aims to examine the dictionary use of Japanese university students to determine just how selective they are when reading nonfiction English texts for general comprehension. The findings suggest that high-intermediate and advanced learners are often selective when considering whether to look up a word. However, a third of the participants in this study were judged to have used the dictionary excessively. In addition, a quarter of the words looked up in the study were neither essential to the articles’ main points nor frequent or useful words, according to corpus research. It is concluded that some learners might benefit from training in selective dictionary use.
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The effects of context on incidental vocabulary learning
Stuart Webb

Japanese university students learning English as a foreign language (EFL) encountered 10 target words in 3 sets of 10 short contexts that were rated on the amount of information available to infer the target words’ meanings. One group of learners met the target words in contexts rated more highly than the contexts read by the other group. A surprise vocabulary test that measured recall of form, recognition of form, recall of meaning, and recognition of meaning was administered after the treatments. The results showed that the group that read the contexts containing more contextual clues had significantly higher scores on both tests of meaning. The findings indicate that the quality of the context rather than the number of encounters with target words may have a greater effect on gaining knowledge of meaning. Conversely, it is the number of encounters that will have a greater effect on knowledge of form.
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Vocabulary assistance before and during reading
Stephen Alessi and Angelique Dwyer

Intermediate learners of Spanish read a Spanish newspaper article with vocabulary assistance either before reading, while reading, both, or without any such assistance. Reading performance was significantly better for students receiving vocabulary assistance during reading, but not for those receiving it before reading. Reading time of the newspaper article was less for students receiving prereading vocabulary assistance, but total lesson time (the prereading time plus reading time) was more for those students. Given the particular activities of this study, a vocabulary activity before reading appears to speed up reading without affecting comprehension, while vocabulary assistance during reading appears to improve comprehension without affecting speed.
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