The effects of contextual diversity on incidental vocabulary learning in the native and a foreign language
Martin, Clara D.
Duñabeitia, Jon Andoni
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Frances, C., Martin, C.D. & Duñabeitia, J.A. The effects of contextual diversity on incidental vocabulary learning in the native and a foreign language. Sci Rep 10, 13967 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-70922-1
Vocabulary learning occurs throughout the lifespan, often implicitly. For foreign language learners, this is particularly challenging as they must acquire a large number of new words with little exposure. In the present study, we explore the effects of contextual diversity—namely, the number of texts a word appears in—on native and foreign language word learning. Participants read several texts that had novel pseudowords replacing high-frequency words. The total number of encounters with the novel words was held constant, but they appeared in 1, 2, 4, or 8 texts. In addition, some participants read the texts in Spanish (their native language) and others in English (their foreign language). We found that increasing contextual diversity improved recall and recognition of the word, as well as the ability to match the word with its meaning while keeping comprehension unimpaired. Using a foreign language only affected performance in the matching task, where participants had to quickly identify the meaning of the word. Results are discussed in the greater context of the word learning and foreign language literature as well as their importance as a teaching tool.