Stimulating Retrieval During Reading to Improve Word Learning and Memory


Retrieving information from memory improves the long-term retention of that information more than continued restudying (e.g., Karpicke & Roediger, 2008). We investigate if this testing-effect can be applied to word learning during reading by manipulating the sentence context in which words are presented. In a within-subject experiment, adult learners without prior knowledge of Swahili studied 80 Swahili words and then repeatedly read the words either in an L1-context that was uninformative and required the retrieval of word meanings from memory to be understood (e.g., “I use the =funguo=”) or in a rich context that enabled the readers to derive word meanings (e.g., “I use the =funguo= to unlock the door”). Recall-accuracy and speed for the newly learned words were measured during reading as well as immediately and seven days after practice to evaluate effects of sentence context and retrieval success during reading on the retention of word form and meaning.

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