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Listeners Also Bought See All. Repetition in a rich context had only a weak effect on word retention in Experiment 2. Experiments 1 and 2 showed better recall of word form and meaning after learners had practiced words repeatedly in an uninformative context that required memory retrieval than after learners had practiced words in an informative context from which word meaning could be inferred.
We attribute this result to the beneficial effects of memory retrieval on retention e.
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We constructed a test in which participants had to judge whether the practiced words were appropriately used in different sentences. The answer scale measured both accuracy and confidence of responses to measure word learning both objectively and subjectively. Pretraining was identical to that in Experiment 2. Practice trials were also similar to those used in Experiment 2 but were shortened, and the test format was changed see Figure 1 for an overview of the differences between experiments. Again, all participants spoke Dutch fluently 40 female, Immediately after participants submitted a response, the same feedback i.
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For each Swahili word, four test sentences were constructed see Table 3 for examples. The unfamiliar sentences were constructed using words and topics that did not occur in the practice context. The presentation order of the test items was random, but it ensured that for half of the words from each condition, the familiar fit sentences were presented first, and for the other half of the words, the unfamiliar fit sentences were presented first for each participant. I don't know but my guess is that the word does not fit in this context. Response accuracy i. Descriptive statistics for response accuracy and confidence are summarized in Table 4.
To ensure that these results were not driven by differences in accuracy, confidence ratings were also aggregated for accurate responses only. This analysis led to the same pattern of results as the analysis of all confidence data. Experiment 3 thus replicated the benefits of retrieval practice found in Experiments 1 and 2, now with a test that involved the presentation of words in a sentential context. Given that language learners often practice words in context, it is important to understand the effect of textual characteristics on word retention.
This study focused on contextual richness as a source of context inferences and memory retrieval during intentional vocabulary practice. In three experiments, words were remembered better after practice with an uninformative context that required memory retrieval to access word meaning, compared to practice with an informative context from which word meaning could be inferred. In Experiment 2, feedback was added to the practice phase and a testing effect was found for all items.
This confirmed that the testing effect in Experiment 1 was not an artifact of item selection but was, indeed, related to benefits of successful retrieval for retention. Finally, in Experiment 3, the testing effect was obtained with a final test that presented words in a sentence context. The fact that reducing the amount of contextual information to trigger memory retrieval had a consistent positive influence on word retention confirms that testing effects can be evoked indirectly by creating a need to retrieve information from memory when that information is not accessible from context.
The present results appear at odds with the widely held view that an informative context is conducive to word learning because contextual clues facilitate the inference of word meaning e. However, the comprehension of words in context e. As a case in point, the present study showed that contextual information affected comprehension and retention in different ways: Contextual information increased the chance that learners found the correct word meaning during practice, but it reduced the retention of these words over time. In alignment with this framework, reducing contextual information in our experiments likely created a desirable difficulty because learners had to engage in effortful retrieval, whereas rich contextual information gave learners easy access to word meaning and involved only superficial processing of the form—meaning association.
Control analyses showed that the retrieval condition did not lead to longer processing times, compared to the context inference condition. On the contrary, response times were longer in the context inference condition than in the retrieval condition in the first practice block in all experiments see Appendix S4 in the Supporting Information online. Thus, benefits of retrieval compared to context inferencing seem to be driven by the type of processing rather than the duration of processing.
These results demonstrate that it is crucial to consider the effects of context manipulation not only on comprehension of words but also on the way in which learners process and subsequently remember these words. Although the present study showed that reducing contextual information during practice can enhance word learning, it should not be seen as an argument for words to always be presented in an uninformative rather than in an informationally rich context.
Here, we focused on the effect of contextual richness during later repetition of words, when learners most likely have acquired some word knowledge that must be consolidated through further repetition. The present study showed that in this phase of learning, a reduction of contextual information can be beneficial if learners succeed at retrieving word meaning from memory.
In contrast, during initial repetition, learners would be less likely to successfully retrieve word meaning from memory. The previous finding that exposure to an uninformative context may become more beneficial after repeated prior exposures to words Webb, supports this idea. One solution to ensure that learners can benefit from retrieval opportunities earlier in practice could be to provide feedback as in Experiments 2 and 3.
Given the importance of feedback in the present experiments, it is noteworthy that the literature on testing effects is not limited to retrieval practice for consolidation of previously learned materials. This refers to the finding that the information provided after learners have unsuccessfully attempted to guess or retrieve this information from memory is remembered better than the information that is directly presented to learners e.
Retrieval attempts might enhance learner involvement. Alternatively, retrieval attempts might lead to a more thorough inspection of available cues, such as word form. In the present study, we did not distinguish the indirect effects of retrieval on feedback processing from the effects of the retrieval itself, 5 For further information about the cognitive mechanisms that might underlie benefits of retrieval practice for retention, we refer readers to discussions in the recent literature e.
For example, one practical question is whether feedback after a retrieval attempt has to be explicit or whether presenting a context sentence from which word meaning can be derived is similarly effective. A number of directions for future research can be derived from the design, materials, and procedures of this study. First, learners practiced with single sentences, typed the translation of target words, and saw the word translations as feedback to their responses.
These are characteristics of intentional vocabulary practice. An interesting avenue for future studies would be to test whether reducing contextual information can also be used to trigger retrieval and enhance word retention in more incidental learning situations, such as during the study of text passages or free reading. It is unclear whether retrieval can be triggered in the same way in these situations. Moreover, learners regularly ignore novel words during free reading e.
On the other hand, an overt response may not be necessary to obtain benefits of retrieval. Therefore, it would be interesting to see if reading materials for language learners, such as short texts in handbooks or guided readers, could also be adapted to elicit the retrieval of target word meaning. Second, in this study, learners were exposed to L2 words in a L1 context, which allowed us to manipulate contextual richness while ensuring that all target words were unknown and all remaining words were known to the learners.
Although it is unlikely that retrieval benefits were due to the choice of language in the present experiments, a text in the target language may be useful for L2 learners to also strengthen their knowledge of the words that constitute the context, in addition to the specific experimental target words. It is therefore a relevant question to ask if the effect of contextual richness found here would be comparable in a situation when learners read texts in the target L2. Moreover, it remains to be tested whether contextual richness has the same effect when learners try to acquire conceptually complex words.
Finally, we focused on words presented in either informative or neutral, uninformative contexts to isolate the effect of memory retrieval from the effect of context inferencing. In reality, the context surrounding a word falls on a continuum from defining, to uninformative, to misleading see also Webb, This raises additional questions, for example, as to whether retrieval is also beneficial if it is elicited in a distracting or irrelevant context and whether retrieval from an uninformative context is beneficial, compared to decontextualized word practice or compared to more effortful context inferences.
Some researchers have argued that the effort involved in inferencing may increase deeper processing and lead to greater retention e. A related point is that deeper or more beneficial processing may occur if word meaning is inferred from different context sentences instead of the same context repeatedly. These issues need to be addressed in future research. The present study focused on the influence of contextual richness on word learning.
These testing effects were obtained using different outcome measures, such as recall of word forms and meanings as well as recognition of words in context, both immediately and 7 days after learning. Please note: The publisher is not responsible for the content or functionality of any supporting information supplied by the authors.
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Language Learning Volume 68, Issue 2. Gesa S. Tools Request permission Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Share Give access Share full text access. Share full text access. Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article. Abstract Learning new vocabulary from context typically requires multiple encounters during which word meaning can be retrieved from memory or inferred from context. Introduction Learning vocabulary in a second language L2 is a gradual process that often requires repetition e. Background Literature Word Learning Through Inferences From Context Successful context inferences allow readers to establish the meaning of hitherto unknown words, which is necessary to create a form—meaning association e.
Word Learning Through Retrieval Word learning often requires repetition, and after a while readers can access word meaning not only through inferences from context but also increasingly through the retrieval of word meaning from memory Nation, The Present Study The central research question of the present study was whether repetitions of words in context enhance retention more when the context stimulates learners to retrieve word meaning from memory than when it allows learners to infer word meaning from context.
Experiment 1 The overarching hypothesis for the three experiments reported here was that practicing words in uninformative sentences that triggered memory retrieval would lead to better word retention than practicing words in informative sentences from which word meaning could be inferred. Procedure The experiment consisted of two sessions see Figure 1. Figure 1 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint.
Overview of experimental procedure. In all three experiments, participants first completed pretraining in which Swahili words were studied together with their Dutch translations.
In the retrieval condition, participants practiced with sentences that provided only limited information about the Swahili word. The diagram on the right indicates differences between practice trials in the three experiments: After participants responded, either the next trial began Experiment 1 or the response remained visible on the screen in gray font for 4 seconds followed by feedback Experiment 2 or feedback was shown directly Experiment 3.
The figure illustrates feedback for two correct responses tick mark after correct word and one incorrect response strikethrough response, display of correct word.
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Pretraining The purpose of pretraining was to ensure that participants learned the meaning of the majority of the Swahili words before the practice phase. Immediate and Delayed Memory Tests A translation test was administered for 25 words from each condition directly after practice in Session 1, and for the other 27 words 7 days after practice in Session 2.
Data Analysis Responses on the translation tests were categorized as either correct or incorrect, with spelling errors counted as correct in the test of receptive knowledge e. Figure 2 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint. CIs are shown for accuracy of recall on tests of receptive rec.
Results Effects of Retrieval and Context Inference on Recall Descriptive statistics for the proportion of word forms and meanings that were translated correctly on the final memory tests immediately and seven days after learning are reported in Table 1 and illustrated in Figure 2. Figure 3 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint.
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Recall accuracy for word meaning receptive word knowledge in Experiment 1 as a function of the number of successful practice responses 0, 1, 2, or 3 and practice condition context inference or retrieval. Data from the immediate and the delayed test are combined. See Appendix S3 in the Supporting Information online for the exact values illustrated in this figure.
Discussion In Experiment 1, participants repeatedly translated Swahili words presented either in an informative context from which word meaning could be inferred or in an uninformative context that required memory retrieval. Procedure Pretraining Pretraining was similar to Experiment 1, but the third task was shortened. Immediate and Delayed Memory Tests Due to the addition of a third condition, it was not possible to test sufficient items in both immediate and delayed tests.
Results Receptive Word Knowledge Descriptive statistics for the data from this experiment are summarized in Table 2.
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The data from the immediate test in Experiment 2 were not included in statistical analyses because the number of observations was too low four items per condition but are included here for descriptive purposes. Experiment 3 Experiments 1 and 2 showed better recall of word form and meaning after learners had practiced words repeatedly in an uninformative context that required memory retrieval than after learners had practiced words in an informative context from which word meaning could be inferred.
Materials and Procedure The target words included of the words from Experiment 2. Sentence Judgment Test For each Swahili word, four test sentences were constructed see Table 3 for examples. During an asthma attack, mkate cannot enter the lungs freely. Fresh mkate tastes best. He walks with crutches because he hurt his mkate. She knits a scarf of fine hewa. Many factories in this area pollute the hewa. The hewa was sharing my friend's bike. Answer scale I am sure that the word does not fit in this context. I think the word does not fit in this context.
I don't know but my guess is that the word fits in this context. I think the word fits in this context. I am sure that the word fits in this context. Correct response The word fits in this context. The word does not fit in this context. The word fits in this context. Results Accuracy Descriptive statistics for response accuracy and confidence are summarized in Table 4.
General Discussion Summary of Findings Given that language learners often practice words in context, it is important to understand the effect of textual characteristics on word retention. Context Influences on Word Comprehension and Retention The present results appear at odds with the widely held view that an informative context is conducive to word learning because contextual clues facilitate the inference of word meaning e.
Limitations and Future Research A number of directions for future research can be derived from the design, materials, and procedures of this study. Conclusion The present study focused on the influence of contextual richness on word learning. Pilot Procedure to Construct Practice Sentences. Appendix S2. Additional Statistical Analyses Bayesian Models. Appendix S3.
Further Information on Data Reported in Figure 3. Appendix S4. Analyses of Response Times During Practice. Baayen, R. Journal of Memory and Language , 59 , — Crossref Google Scholar. Google Scholar. Volume 68 , Issue 2 June Pages Figures References Related Information. Close Figure Viewer. Browse All Figures Return to Figure. Previous Figure Next Figure. Email or Customer ID. Forgot password? Old Password. New Password.