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EFFECTS OF MASSING AND SPACING ON THE LEARNING OF SEMANTICALLY RELATED AND UNRELATED WORDS

  • Tatsuya Nakata (a1) and Yuichi Suzuki (a2)
Abstract

Although researchers argue that studying semantically related words simultaneously (semantic clustering) inhibits vocabulary acquisition, recent studies have yielded inconsistent results. This study examined the effects of semantic clustering while addressing the limitations of previous studies (e.g., confounding of semantic relatedness with other lexical variables). Furthermore, the study investigated the effects of spacing because spacing might facilitate the learning of semantically related items by alleviating interference. In this study, 133 Japanese university students studied 48 English-Japanese word pairs under two conditions: massed and spaced. Half the words were semantically related to each other while the other half were not. Although there were no significant differences between semantically related and unrelated items in posttest scores, semantically related items led to more interference errors than unrelated items. Furthermore, contrary to the authors’ hypothesis that spacing is particularly beneficial for semantically related items, spacing benefited unrelated items more than it did related items.

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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
*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Tatsuya Nakata, Faculty of Foreign Language Studies, Kansai University, 3-3-35 Yamate-cho, Suita-shi, Osaka 564-8680 Japan. E-mail: nakata@kansai-u.ac.jp
Footnotes
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The experiment in this article earned an Open Materials badge for transparent practices. The materials are available at https://www.iris-database.org/iris/app/home/detail?id=york%3a935413&ref=search.

This research was supported in part by Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists (A) (#16H05943) awarded to the first author from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 27th Annual Conference of the European Second Language Association (EuroSLA), Reading, UK, 2017. We are very grateful to Paul Nation, Yu Tamura, Akira Murakami, and Steve Porritt for their invaluable advice.

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Studies in Second Language Acquisition
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Supplementary materials

Nakata and Suzuki supplementary material
Nakata and Suzuki supplementary material Appendices A-F

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