The Development of Productive Knowledge of Vocabulary through Implicit Exposure: Non-lexicalized Words in Focus

Mohammad Ali Heidari-Shahreza


The researcher aimed at investigating the possible effects of first language-second language (L1-L2) lexicalization mismatch on the acquisition and retention of productive vocabulary knowledge. Non-lexicalized words were operationally defined as the L2 words lacking a lexically-equivalent translation in learners’ L1 (i.e. Persian). In other words, non-lexicalized words referred to those L2 words that required a longer string of L1 words to cover their essential semantic features. Ninety Persian-speaking EFL learners were exposed to 10 target words incidentally. Subsequently, they sat for a test of productive vocabulary knowledge immediately and after three weeks of delay.  The results revealed that there were significant differences between lexicalized and non-lexicalized target words in the productive knowledge of associations. Therefore, it might be the case that non-lexicalized words were most likely to cause extra difficulty for EFL learners in the semantic aspects of vocabulary knowledge. Input enrichment and explicit instruction within a systematic vocabulary recycling program were recommended to acquire such words.


productive vocabulary knowledge; incidental acquisition; non-lexicalized words; translation equivalence

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