Semantic category effects in second language word learning

Matthew Finkbeiner, Janet Nicol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


The present study addresses a long-standing assumption in the field of applied linguistics: that presenting new second language (L2) vocabulary in semantically grouped sets is an effective method of teaching. Participants learned 32 new L2 labels for concepts from four different semantic categories in either a related or unrelated condition. At test, participants translated words in both translation directions. We found a semantic interference effect both during the encoding of information into memory and during the retrieval of information in translation. We discuss these findings in terms of theoretical models of L2 lexical representation and development, as well as in more practical terms of L2 curriculum design and vocabulary instruction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-383
Number of pages15
JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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