Implicit Language Learning

  • Reading is the primary mechanism through which incidental vocabulary acquisition occurs. Several studies show that reading “texts that are personally interesting to learners stimulate incidental vocabulary acquisition” [4]
  • Learners can accurately guess the meaning of a new word when 95–98% of the surrounding words are already known. Unfortunately, this means picking up new words from everyday texts requires existing knowledge of the most common 3,000-5,000 words when reading texts in a target language. This includes many more advanced words such as fragrant, mortgage, dubious, nurture, and skid.[4]
  • The more you are exposed to a new word, the more likely you are to remember it. Exactly how many exposures it takes varies depending on many factors, but is likely between 5 and 16 [4].
  • Combining extensive reading (incidental learning) with explicit vocabulary instruction (intentional learning) is particularly effective at vocabulary acquisition [3–4]. One effective technique is to annotate new words by showing definitions and native language words when clicked on [4].

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