Exploring the learning burden and decay of foreign language vocabulary knowledge
The effect of part of speech and word length
Research has shown that several intralexical factors affect the learning burden of foreign language vocabulary (e.g., Laufer, 1997) and that some accrued lexical knowledge is forgotten. It is often assumed that the lexical items most difficult to acquire are those easiest to forget. However, few studies have provided empirical evidence to support this claim. This study examined the effect of two intralexical factors, part of speech and word length, on the learning burden and decay of intentionally learned foreign language lexical knowledge, as well as the role that learning burden played in the decay process. Forty-eight learners of English studied words of various parts of speech and lengths using flashcard software. Knowledge (form recall and recognition) of target items was assessed immediately after learning and four weeks later. Results of mixed-effects models showed that part of speech and word length have differential impacts on learning burden and decay and that increased burden mitigated loss of form recognition knowledge.
Keywords: learning burden, vocabulary acquisition, lexical decay, intralexical factors, flashcard software
Published online: 26 January 2021
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