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Incidental vocabulary acquisition from an authentic novel: Do Things Fall Apart?

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Title:Incidental vocabulary acquisition from an authentic novel: Do Things Fall Apart?
Authors:Pellicer-Sánchez, Ana
Schmitt, Norbert
Keywords:vocabulary acquisition
incidental learning
English as a foreign language (EFL)
extensive reading
word knowledge
Date Issued:Apr 2010
Publisher:University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center
Center for Language & Technology
Abstract:Nation (2006) has calculated that second language (L2) learners require much more vocabulary than previously thought to be functional with language (e.g., 8,000–9,000 word families to read independently). This level is far beyond the highest graded reader, and would be difficult to explicitly teach. One way for learners to be exposed to mid-frequency vocabulary is to read authentic materials. The original A Clockwork Orange study (Saragi, Nation, & Meister, 1978) showed impressive amounts of incidental vocabulary learning with first language (L1) readers, but subsequent studies with L2 learners (using graded readers or simplified materials) showed only modest gains. This study explores the degree to which relatively advanced L2 readers can acquire spelling, word class, and recognition and recall of meaning from reading the unmodified authentic novel Things Fall Apart. After more than 10 exposures, the meaning and spelling could be recognized for 84% and 76% of the words respectively, while the meaning and word class could be recalled for 55% and 63%.
Appears in Collections: Volume 22, No. 1 Special Issue: In Honor of Paul Nation

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