Does Deeper Involvement in Lexical Input Processing during Reading Tasks Lead to Enhanced Incidental Vocabulary Gain?

Patricia Kolaiti, Panagiota Raikou


This paper investigates whether increased learner involvement in search tasks during reading activities results in differential vocabulary acquisition in an incidental setting in line with Hulstijn and Laufer’s (2001) Involvement Load Hypothesis. We designed and conducted an experiment with two groups of advanced Greek learners of English, an online dictionary-search group (Group 1) and a non-search group (Group 2) with the aim to test whether increased learner involvement in search tasks results in differential vocabulary retention. During a reading activity, participants of Group 1 were asked to find the meanings of 10 target words involved in the reading activity by using the online Google-dictionary and also find and write down a sentence relevant to the meaning of each target word. These two tasks were designed with the aim to activate the involvement factor “search” in line with Hulstijn and Laufer’s (2001) three-factor Involvement Load construct. During the same reading activity, participants in Group 2 were simply given the meanings of the 10 target items on a separate sheet of paper (glossary). The experiment was conducted in two stages with one week’s distance between them involving an immediate and a delayed vocabulary test aimed to assess short-term and long-term vocabulary retention respectively. The results of our study support the increased learner involvement hypothesis, as the dictionary-search group outperformed the non-search group in both tests.

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