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Literature and second language vocabulary learning: the role of text-type and teaching approach

Graham, S. ORCID:, Zhang, P. ORCID:, Hofweber, J., Fisher, L. and Krüsemann, H. (2024) Literature and second language vocabulary learning: the role of text-type and teaching approach. Modern Language Journal. ISSN 1540-4781

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/modl.12946


This study considers the relative benefits for vocabulary learning of exposure to two types of texts, literary or non-literary, used with two teaching approaches. These approaches were termed functional and creative respectively. In the former, learners’ attention was drawn to factual information and linguistic features in order to develop their linguistic knowledge. In the latter, the aim was to stimulate learners’ personal and emotional response, by drawing their attention to the text’s emotional content and how language was used to express meaning. We analysed data from 160 learners of French in eight schools in England. Learners in four schools studied French poems and those in another four studied French factual texts. Teachers in each text condition employed functional and creative methods of exploitation within a counterbalanced design. We assessed two types of vocabulary knowledge at pre- and post-test: meaning-recall of vocabulary contained in the texts, and learners’ general vocabulary size. Our results indicated learning gains across both text-types. There were however important interactions between text-type and teaching approach and between text-type and the order in which the teaching approaches were used. Finally, we consider the implications of these findings for understanding of vocabulary learning through literature and for classroom practice.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Language and Literacy in Education
ID Code:115769
Uncontrolled Keywords:literature; poetry; vocabulary; reading; French


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