Item Details

Is L2 vocabulary learned better via context or via translation?

Issue: Vol 2 No. 1 (2018)

Journal: Instructed Second Language Acquisition

Subject Areas:

DOI: 10.1558/isla.34212


Various studies have shown intentional learning of L2 vocabulary to be more efficient than incidental learning from exposure to comprehensible input. Some have argued that such learning may be further enhanced by recourse to L1 translation, particularly for weaker learners. The present study aims to determine if intentional learning of new vocabulary through L1 does indeed confer an advantage over intentional learning from an L2 context. To this end, 403 Thai freshmen students were pre-tested on thirty vocabulary items set for study on their English course. They were then randomly allocated to either a translation or context group to learn those items. Time on task was controlled. A delayed post-test showed that while the translation group was better at matching the thirty English words with Thai translations, albeit marginally so, there was no benefit conferred on the translation group when it came to using the words in a contextual gap-filling exercise. This finding held for both advanced and weaker learners.

Author: Michael John Alroe, Hayo Reinders, Punchalee Wasanasomsithi

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