Evaluating the form-meaning connection of a new L2 word: a simple yet effective pathway to learning?

Onderzoeksoutput: Unpublished abstract

Samenvatting

Summary:
If the learning burden of a word is (partly) determined by the perceived arbitrariness of its form-meaning connection, this study investigates whether asking learners to rate and evaluate how well the meaning of a new word fits its form helps to strengthen the memory trace of this target word, both receptively and productively.

Abstract:
The learning burden of an L2 word is assumed to be (partly) determined by the perceived arbitrariness of its form-meaning connection. This means that if its form appears unrelated to its meaning - and therefore cannot be motivated easily - learners aiming to commit the word to memory will have to invest more attention and mental elaboration on it than if the connection appears transparent to them (cf. Hulstijn 2001: 262). A cherished concept within Cognitive Linguistics is the notion of linguistic motivation, which supposes that a retrospective explanation can be sought for why a linguistic unit within a specific language comes in a particular form or with a particular meaning. So far, however, most Cognitive Linguistic endeavours have been concerned with the motivation of meaning-meaning connections (e.g. polysemy, metaphorization, and grammaticalization). This paper is different in that it explores form-meaning connections. If the form-meaning connection of a new lexical item is perceived as non-arbitrary, for instance by virtue of sound symbolism, this motivation can be 'filed' alongside the target item as such and function as an efficient retrieval cue during language production.
To assess this hypothesis, we devised a vocabulary learning experiment which - by instructing advanced learners to rate how well the meaning of a new L2 word fits its form - gauges to what extent this perceived motivation correlates with the word's learning and retention, both receptively and productively. Furthermore, we also assess whether asking learners to carry out such a rating exercise helps to strengthen the memory trace of new words. If learners were to benefit from such a prompted evaluation of the form-meaning connection, then this intervention could complement other semantic and structural elaboration techniques, and recommended as a minimal, time-efficient pathway to word learning. The paper will present the design, method and results of the experiment in detail.

References
- Hulstijn, J.H. (2001), Intentional and incidental second language vocabulary learning: A reappraisal of elaboration, rehearsal and automaticity, in P. Robinson(ed.), Cognition and Second Language Instruction, Cambridge University Press, 258-286.
Originele taal-2English
StatusPublished - 6 mrt 2010
EvenementAmerican Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) 2010 Conference - Atlanta, United States
Duur: 6 mrt 20106 mrt 2010
Congresnummer: 2010

Conference

ConferenceAmerican Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) 2010 Conference
Verkorte titelAAAL
Land/RegioUnited States
StadAtlanta
Periode6/03/106/03/10

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