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Current Perspectives in Second Language Vocabulary Research


Edited By David Hirsh

Reflecting growth in research interest in second language vocabulary over the past 30 years, this edited volume explores the current themes and possible future directions in second language vocabulary research. The collection brings together review papers and quantitative studies, and considers vocabulary in the contexts of teaching, learning and assessment. Key themes explored in the volume include multidimensionality of vocabulary knowledge, the nature of word learnability, the interface between receptive vocabulary knowledge and productive vocabulary use, the partial-to-precise continuum of vocabulary knowledge, conditions favouring vocabulary learning and use, and the use of corpora to develop word lists to inform second language teaching. The themes presented in this volume reflect current thinking and research avenues at the interface between research enquiry and second language teaching practice.


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YU-TSE LEE / DAVID HIRSH Quality and Quantity of Exposure in L2 Vocabulary Learning 79


YU-TSE LEE / DAVID HIRSH Quality and Quantity of Exposure in L2 Vocabulary Learning 1. Introduction Of concern to second language researchers and instructors alike is to identify vocabulary practice activities that provide good opportunities for learners to acquire new words. For researchers, a central question in understanding vocabulary learning is whether retention depends more on what one does with the word or how often one meets it. Previous studies have provided some explanations of why cer- tain vocabulary practice activities appear to be more effective than others in promoting L2 vocabulary acquisition (see De la Fuente 2002; Joe 1995; Paribakht/Wesche 1997; Rott 2004). Analysing different types of task in their respective research, these studies shed light on common features of effective tasks. Their findings regarding what makes particular tasks more effective than others revealed that exer- cises or activities requiring more mental effort on the learner’s part result in improved retention of L2 vocabulary. A number of empirical attempts have been made to define this notion more precisely. An early theoretical framework is the construct of ‘Depth of Processing Hypothesis’ proposed by Craik and Lockhart (1972) in the field of cognitive psychology. More recently, in order to provide a more observable and measurable construct of depth of proc- essing as well as to link these general cognitive notions to the second language acquisition field, Laufer and Hulstijn (2001) formulated the ‘Involvement Load Hypothesis’ by providing three specific elements to observe the depth of processing, named ‘involvement load’. To date,...

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