The benefits of abstract word training on productive vocabulary knowledge among second language learners

Chaleece W. Sandberg, Erin Carpenter, Katherine Kerschen, Daniela Paolieri, Carrie N. Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This study investigates the effect of an word training paradigm initially developed to treat lexical retrieval deficits in patients with aphasia on second language (L2) vocabulary acquisition. Three English-Spanish L2 learners (Experiment 1) and 10 Spanish-English L2 learners (Experiment 3) were trained on 15 words within a context-category (e.g., restaurant) using a five-step training paradigm based on semantic feature analysis. In addition, 7 English-Spanish L2 learners were trained on either or concrete words within a context-category (Experiment 2). Across all experiments, the majority of participants trained on words showed improved production of the trained words, as measured by a word generation task, as well as improvement on untrained concrete words within the same context-category (i.e., generalization). Participants trained on concrete words (Experiment 2) exhibited much smaller word production gains and no generalization to words. These results parallel previous findings from aphasia research and suggest that this training paradigm can successfully be extended to L2 learning contexts, where it has the potential to be a useful tool in vocabulary instruction. We discuss the findings in terms of models of spreading activation and the underlying conceptual representations of and concrete words in the L2 lexicon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1331-1362
Number of pages32
JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • General Psychology


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