The effects of transliterations, thematic organization, and working memory on adult L2 vocabulary learning
We examine how L2 vocabulary learning is affected by the information provided to the learner during training, organization of the to-be-learned vocabulary, and working memory capacity of the learner. Native English speakers were taught Arabic vocabulary in seven sessions, during which they heard L1 (English)-L2 (Arabic) translation pairs. Training was manipulated between participants by crossing the presence vs. absence of a transliteration and thematic vs. random organization of vocabulary. Session, working memory capacity, transliteration condition, and organization condition interacted in English-Arabic translation accuracy. Participants with lower working memory capacity performed best in the transliteration-thematic organization condition, whereas participants with higher working memory performed best in the transliteration-random organization and no transliteration-thematic organization conditions. Translation RT and free recall were not related to working memory, and were best in the transliteration conditions. Results suggest that adult L2 vocabulary learning is aided by exploiting well-established spelling-sound connections to improve L2 lexical representations.
Keywords: second language learning, vocabulary learning, transliterations, working memory, thematic organization
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