The Effects of contextual Richness on the Guessability and the Retention of Words in a Foreign Language

Abstract

This study tested three directional hypotheses: Compared with those receiving cue - inadequate sentences, subjects receiving cue – adequate sentences will 1) Report greater ease in word inference 2) Score higher in inferring and remembering the contextual meaning of unfamiliar words
3) The higher the score of word inference, the better the retention of the contextual meanings of the target words. With statistical significance, all these hypotheses were confirmed. An approach combining schema theory and the generative model of comprehension was used for the rational of this study and the discussion of its findings. Since adequate cues in context can relieve learners of English as a Foreign Language from the anxiety of unfamiliar words, it might follow that reasonably sufficient contextual cues should be provided in texts for foreign language learns, so that enough information can be created for them to play “psycholinguistic guessing game” (Goodman 1967) – if it is part of the interactional goal. Moreover, since adequate contextual cues can enhance inferring and remembering the meanings of unfamiliar words in context, it might follow that “more comprehensible input” (Krashen 1985) should be involved in acquiring vocabulary. To provide “more comprehensible input” means to provide more accessible frames of relevant reference according to schema theory, or, according to schema theory and carton (1971), “attributes and contexts that are familiar” to the text-receiver. To make the verbal input in the text more comprehensible, both linguistic input (i.e. the message conveyed in the language in the text), and extra linguistic input should be available, or familiar, to the text – receiver. This being the case, the learner can better acquire what is known by employing what is given, known or acquired.
 


Volume 1, Issue 1
Winter and Spring 2006
Pages 69-103
  • Receive Date: 10 January 2005
  • Revise Date: 05 January 2006
  • Accept Date: 05 January 2006