Toegepaste aspekten van de taalpsychologie: 3 november 1979 te Nijmege
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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Foreign language teaching implies learning an enormous number of words. The learning methods which are commonly used for this purpose, are still far from ideal. Serious psychological objections can be raised to learning isolated words. Presenting words in texts, however, does not guarantee that pupils will pay sufficient attention to the forms of the new words and to the ways in which these words are related to the text. A good retention of the new words requires that the traces of the words in memory are embedded in one or more meaningful memory systems. So there has to be created a situation in which the pupils will pay more attention to the relations between the new words and the text.In an exploratory investigation which was carried out by Prof. Eikeboom and the author, we have tried to obtain this situation by asking the pupils to guess the meaning of new words from the context. A hundred and six second and third grade pupils of a large suburban High School served as subjects in this study. They worked at a Dutch story in which a number of words had been replaced by quasi-words. Half of the subjects had to guess the meaning of the quasi-words from the context, the other half could look up the meaning of the words in the margin and in a word-list. The subjects were submitted to an immediate and a postponed vocabulary test.The hypothesis was that in particular in the postponed test the subjects in the guessing condition would have memorized more or at least as many words as the subjects in the'margin condition. This hypothesis was founded on the supposition that the guessers would have to work actively on the new words and their context, whereas the subjects in the margin condition would "substitute" the meaning of the new words whithout paying attention to the forms or the context of the new words. This hypothesis was partly confirmed, that is to say for the third grade classes, by means of an analysis of variance with repeated measures. An unexpected but interesting result was that the second grade classes differed significantly from the third grade classes in the guessing condition, but not in the margin condition. This may point to the instructability of using the context to guess the meaning of new words.Finally the three methodological difficulties which occurred in this investi-gation, are discussed. These difficulties refer to: 1) the guessing ability of the subjects, 2) the necessity of confirmations in the guessing condition, and 3) the factors which influence the possibility to guess the meaning of words correctly .

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  • Article Type: Research Article
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