Language transfer and blocking in second language vocabulary learning

Robert T. SOLMAN, Kevin Kien Hoa CHUNG

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8 Citations (Scopus)


The influence of different vocabulary instructional techniques upon the acquisition of different language words was examined in two experiments. In Experiment 1, comparisons were made between the learning of Chinese and French words employing both paired-associate presentations and spacing procedures. The results supported the view that language transfer affects the acquisition of second language words, with more French words being learned than Chinese words. The superiority of the spacing procedure over the paired-associate presentation found in these results suggested that the spacing method diminished the adverse effects of blocking and thus enhanced learning. However, no significant interaction between the teaching procedures and different language words was detected. That is, under the spacing procedure, greater improvement in learning of Chinese words was not found. The experiment was thus modified by substituting the spacing procedure with aural feedback in Experiment 2. In this experiment, a significant interaction between these two factors was detected. That is, the recall for French was more than Chinese in the paired-associate condition, however, under the aural feedback, performance in Chinese was statistically equivalent to that in French. Hence, these findings may contradict the prediction of language transfer. It appears that the phenomenon of language transfer may be far less important in vocabulary learning than the use of a method of instruction which neutrales the negative effects of blocking. Copyright © 1996 Human Sciences Press, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-190
JournalJournal of Behavioral Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1996


Solman, R. T., & Chung, K. K. H. (1996). Language transfer and blocking in second language vocabulary learning. Journal of Behavioral Education, 6(2), 173-190. doi: 10.1007/BF02110231


  • Blocking
  • Aural feedback
  • Paired-associate technique
  • Spacing method
  • Language transfer
  • Simultaneous presentation


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