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Noticing vocabulary holes aids incidental second language word learning: An experimental study

  • JOHANNA F. DE VOS (a1) (a2), HERBERT SCHRIEFERS (a1) and KRISTIN LEMHÖFER (a1)
Abstract

Noticing the hole (NTH) occurs when speakers want to say something, but realise they do not know the right word(s). Such awareness of lacking knowledge supposedly facilitates the acquisition of the unknown word(s) from later input (Swain, 1993). We tested this claim by experimentally inducing NTH in a second language (L2) for some participants (experimental), but not others (control). Then, in a price comparison game, all participants were exposed to spoken L2 input containing the to-be-learned words. They were unaware of taking part in an L2 study. Post-tests showed that participants who had noticed holes in their vocabulary had indeed learned more words compared to participants who had not. This held both for the experimental group as well as those participants in the control group who later reported to have noticed holes. Thus, when we become aware of vocabulary holes, the first step to improve our vocabulary is already taken.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Johanna de Vos, PO Box 9104, 6500HE Nijmegen, The Netherlands johannadevos@gmail.com
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*This research was conducted as part of a VIDI project (grant 276-89-004) awarded to Kristin Lemhöfer by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The authors would like to thank Louis ten Bosch, Conor Dolan and Sean Roberts for their advice on the statistical analysis, and Rebecca Sachs and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript.

Supplementary material can be found online at https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728918000019

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