This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Category Effects of Vocabulary Presentation in L2 Vocabulary Acquisition in Novice Learners




Wilcox, Amanda

Type of Degree



Foreign Language and Literature


Vocabulary learning is a crucial factor in second language acquisition (SLA), yet there is no consensus as to how to present vocabulary in a way that facilitates learning. Little theory and scant empirical evidence support the claim that presenting words in semantic clusters facilitates vocabulary acquisition, yet most text books present SL vocabulary in this way. Another branch of research is developing that seems to assert just the opposite- that in the beginning stages of SLA- grouping vocabulary words semantically actually impedes the acquisition of new L2 words. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of categorizing vocabulary on the acquisition of L2 in novice learners. Participants were presented with vocabulary that was randomly, semantically, or phonologically grouped and comparisons were made as to which vocabulary words were acquired more quickly and retained longer over time. Results show that the semantically clustered (and not phonologically similar) words were indeed more difficult to learn, and that performance was improved when vocabulary was presented in random and/or phonetic groups.