Volume 65, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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Studies in vocabulary acquisition have shown that guessing words from context may have a positive effect on eventual retention, but is not necessarily the most effective or efficient method in instructional settings. However, when cognitive linguistic insights into the conceptual links between different senses of polysemous words are applied, the guessing method can be made more effective by stimulating learners to develop 'precise elaborations'. For the acquisition of the abstract, figurative senses of polysemous words, precise elaborations can be accomplished by providing core meanings of these words. The assumption that providing core meanings will positively affect retention was tested in a series of experiments. In this paper, we report on the latest of these experiments, in which one half of a group of Dutch learners of English were given core meanings, while the other half was given another figurative meaning. The results show that guessing a figurative sense of a polysemous word is more successful when providing a core sense than when providing another figurative sense.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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