Effects of Word and Fragment Writing During L2 Vocabulary Learning


  • Joe Barcroft

    1. Washington University in St. Louis
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      Joe Barcroft (PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) is Associate Professor of Spanish and Second Language Acquisition at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.


This study examined how writing (copying) target words and word fragments affects intentional second language (L2) vocabulary learning. English-speaking first-semester learners ofSpanish attempted to learn 24 Spanish nouns via word-picture repetition in three conditions: (1) word writing, (2) fragment writing, and (3) no writing. After the learning phase, the participants completed productive (picture-to-L2) and recpectively oriented (L2-to-first language) posttests. Vocabulary learning scores in the no-writing condition were higher than in the other two conditions and higher in the word-writing condition than in the fragment-writing condition. These fmdings provide new evidence on how forced Output without access to meaning can detract from early word learning by exhausting processing resources needed to encode new word forms. The pedagogical implications of the study call for language instructors to rethink the practice of encouraging students to write down a word to remember it.