Educational Research Journal

The Effect of Four Learning Conditions on Short-term Recall of Lexical Meaning

1998.第13卷第1期(Vol. 13 No. 1).pp. 63–84

The Effect of Four Learning Conditions on Short-term Recall of Lexical Meaning

Robert T. ELLIOTT & Victoria S. C. TAO


Recent research has demonstrated that the paired associates of L1 word–L2 word, impair learning. It was found that the L1 word interfered with the learning of the target word which was juxtaposed. However, reversing the order to L2 word–L1 word reduced the adverse effect. Moreover, presenting the L2 word alone first and delaying the L1 equivalent as informative feedback improved recall performance. Although direct translation is one common method to acquire lexical meanings, another usual practice in decoding is the dictionary definition. This project dealt with the use of target language definitions in comparison with native language translations in short-term recall of English word meaning. A within-subjects experiment was completed with Secondary One Chinese migrant children in Hong Kong. In the study, the Chinese translation or English definition was either paired with the target word or used as informative feedback. The four experimental conditions were: (I) Simultaneous Word-translation, (II) Simultaneous Word-dictionary definition, (III) Word (5 seconds interval) → translation as feedback, and (IV) Word (5 seconds interval) → dictionary definition as feedback. Three orthogonal comparisons were carried out on mean proportions of correct responses. Results revealed that the feedback conditions were superior to the simultaneous conditions; the translation conditions were more favourable than the definition conditions; but no interaction was detected.

Keywords: vocabulary learning; learning lexical meaning; second language teaching