Short- and Long-Term Word-Retention: Effects of Learning Strategies in Intentional and Incidental L2 Vocabulary Learning

Ali Al-Hakami & Leah Roberts, United Kingdom, ID LLCE2016-264;     The study was designed to identify the effect of strategies used during intentional and incidental vocabulary learning on short and long-term word retention, and to measure the relationship between the strategies used and vocabulary learning performance. Forty advanced Chinese and English learners of Arabic as a Second Language were involved in a pre-test to ensure that they were unfamiliar with the experimental words which were used in the intentional and incidental learning. For the intentional learning, twenty participants (10 in each group) were introduced to Arabic words while viewing word-picture pairs in a learning session. The participants then completed two tests: an immediate test (uptake short-term memory test) that was conducted immediately after the learning task and a delayed test (long-term memory retention) one week later. For the incidental learning, twenty Chinese and English participants (10 in each group) were introduced to read an Arabic short story with a combination of high and low frequency Arabic words.  On completion, two tests were conducted in two phases.  The first test was assessed [a] words in isolation, and [b] words in context; for this, 32 target words were presented in short sentences taken from the original text.  The second test addressed incidental long-term word retention, followed the seam procedure used in the first test. During all four assessments participants answered questions regarding the strategies they used.  Their responses were coded to identify each participant’s most frequently used strategy. Support was found for the hypotheses that many strategies, can positively affect long-term memory retention in both intentional and incidental L2 vocabulary learning. The results indicate that Chinese learners tended to use memory strategies (e.g. self-generate target words and rote memorization) more than English learners, while English participants prefer cognitive strategies, such as, note taking and using new words in sentences.

Keywords:Intentional, incidental, vocabulary learning, Short-Long-term Retention.