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Vocabulary learning through reading: The effects of multimedia glosses for contextualized vocabulary use and acquisition Open Access


Other title
Vocabulary acquisition
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Serrand, Catherine M. D.
Supervisor and department
Kost, Claudia (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Rott, Susanne (University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Germanic Studies)
Ranta, Leila (Educational Psychology)
Lam, Yvonne (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Daily-O’Cain, Jennifer (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Nedashkivska, Alla (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies
Germanic Languages, Literatures and Linguistics
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Research in the field of incidental vocabulary learning through reading has concentrated on various types of foci. In particular input enhancement techniques such as glosses have been the subject of many studies (Ariew & Ercetin, 2004; Ko, 2005; Miyasako, 2002; Yoshii & Flaitz, 2002), leading to the conclusion that multimedia glosses added to reading tasks are beneficial for students’ comprehension of texts and learning of new vocabulary. However, studies have produced mixed results with respect to the effects of L1 vs. L2 glosses (Bell & LeBlanc, 2000; Jacobs, DuFon & Fong, 1994; Ko, 2005; Yoshii, 2006). While this area of research thus far has focused on students’ ability to retain new lexical information, their ability to use words within specific contexts has not yet been examined. This study aimed at testing to which extent students can understand texts, and retain and produce new vocabulary in context when reading with glosses featuring explanations in the L2 and L1 translations. To this end, 108 students in their second semester of German at the University of Alberta were given three texts, each including the same 15 target words glossed under three conditions: (1) picture + English translation, (2) picture + German explanation, (3) no gloss. Students were asked to participate in productive and receptive posttests, and finally they took part in an online chat in which they were to use the target words in context. The results indicate that the use of glosses for new vocabulary learning not only helps students to retain and produce the individual words, but also to use these words in context. The language used in the glosses, however, did not seem to make a difference, neither on the receptive and productive tests, nor for retention of contextual information. The results and observations from this study therefore confirm the importance of the use of glosses for reading comprehension and vocabulary learning and show their potential for material development to introduce and use vocabulary in context more successfully.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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