2 December

Irina Elgort (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand)

Effects of two types of elaboration on contextual word learning in English as a second language by Chinese and Dutch speakers


Learning new L2 (English) words through reading is a slow and incremental process, which initially results in partial word knowledge. This process may be facilitated by increasing readers’ engagement with the form and meaning of unfamiliar words. In this presentation I will (1) compare the effects of form-focused and meaning-focused elaboration on the quality of lexical knowledge of contextually learned words, and (2) examine the effect of correct vs. incorrect guessing of novel L2 word meanings from context. Two adult L2 populations, Chinese and Dutch speakers, learned novel English vocabulary through reading in two conditions: with word writing (copying) and with actively deriving word meaning from context. Immediate and delayed off-line and online measures of word knowledge were used to compare outcomes of the two learning conditions, and the effect of incorrect guessing in the meaning-focused elaboration condition. The data were analysed using mixed effects modeling, with participants and items treated as crossed-random effects. Participant and item characteristics were used as secondary interest predictors in the regression models. A short interview was conducted after the delayed post-test to elicit participants’ views on the two approaches to word learning. The study findings are discussed from the standpoint of the Lexical Quality Hypothesis (Perfetti, 2002, 2007).



Irina Elgort is Senior Lecturer in Higher Education at Victoria University of Wellington. Her research in L2 vocabulary learning focuses on the effects of learner variables and learning/teaching approaches. She received the Christopher Brumfit PhD/Ed.D. Thesis Award for her PhD on vocabulary learning. Irina’s research has been published in top international journals including in Language Learning, Language Testing, and Bilingualism: Language and Cognition. Irina’s work is interdisciplinary, combining approaches and methods from applied linguistics, psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics. Irina also researches and teaches computer-assisted language learning and the use of digital technology in higher education.