A Study on the Effects of Lexical Processing Strategies in Incidental Vocabulary Acquisition While Reading

  •  Yao Fan    


Research on vocabulary acquisition in SLA has revealed that a large proportion of vocabulary is acquired without overt intention. This paper analyzes the relevance of different lexical processing strategies for incidental vocabulary acquisition while reading involving 56 native Chinese speakers who are studying English at a local university in China. The lexical processing strategies which the participants adopted to analyze unknown words are discussed based on the cognitive processes involved, namely implicit/explicit cognitive processes and top-down/bottom-up cognitive processes. According to the introspective data collected during a think-aloud protocol as well as the results of a subsequent vocabulary retention test, we examine the acquisition effects of different strategies. The results indicate that students can learn vocabulary incidentally through implicit processing, though it has a significantly lower acquisition rate than that of the explicit processing strategies. With regard to the dichotomy of top-down and bottom-up cognitive processes, the bottom-up processing strategy demonstrates better acquisition effects than the top-down strategy. Finally, a multilevel cognitive model of factors that contribute to incidental vocabulary acquisition is developed in an attempt to provide theoretical and practical implications to L2 vocabulary teaching and learning in China.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1923-869X
  • ISSN(Online): 1923-8703
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: bimonthly

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