The effects of knowledge and word type on second language vocabulary learning: An exploratory study

Natalie Pateman, Andrew Holliman, John Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Research on second language vocabulary learning has begun to investigate the acquisition of different types of knowledge (form, grammar, semantic) and words (noun, verb, adjectival emotive). However, most studies have focused on ‘incidental’ learning which is not commonplace in languages classrooms so consequently there is limited pedagogical application of the findings. Method: In the present study, the effects of both knowledge and word type on the ‘intentional’ vocabulary learning of an unspoken second language (German) was examined. English-speaking university students (N = 30) completed a German word learning phase (which included nouns, verbs, and adjectival emotive words) and were then given three tasks devised to examine vocabulary learning of different knowledge types (form, grammar, and semantic). These tasks were also completed one week later. Results: It was found that both knowledge (form>grammar>semantic) and word type (noun>verb>adjectival emotive) had a significant main effect on vocabulary learning with gradients in the expected direction. An interaction between knowledge and word type was also found. Conclusions: Conclusions are made regarding the need for future research to examine the processes, and the pedagogical practices, that might best facilitate successful vocabulary learning of different knowledge and word types. Such research would be of great value to educators and second language learners.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalApplied Psychological Research Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015



  • Vocabulary
  • Second Language Learning
  • Pedagogy
  • Education

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