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What’s Wrong with Welsh Adjectives?
L. Bradley & S. Thouësny (Eds.), CALL: Using, Learning, Knowing, Pages: 292 - 295
Swansea University Author: Cornelia Tschichold
Why are some words harder to learn than others? In a long-term CASLR (computer-assisted second language research) study, a vocabulary flashcard program that employs spaced repetition for explicit vocabulary training was used in order to arrive at data on the difficulty of individual words. The vocab...
|Published in:||L. Bradley & S. Thouësny (Eds.), CALL: Using, Learning, Knowing|
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Why are some words harder to learn than others? In a long-term CASLR (computer-assisted second language research) study, a vocabulary flashcard program that employs spaced repetition for explicit vocabulary training was used in order to arrive at data on the difficulty of individual words. The vocabulary content of a beginner’s Welsh course was periodically entered into the program as one learner progressed through the course and studied vocabulary with the help of the electronic flashcards. The Welsh words were trained both receptively and productively, and in a few cases also as part of a short phrase or sentence. The program automatically collects statistical information for each individual electronic card, including the number of times each card had been seen. Data was collected for an initial period of two years of non-intensive learning, and the resulting statistics for the individual flashcards allow an interesting insight into the very highly variable number of repetitions needed for each word. In a first instance, all single words were sorted into their word class. This analysis showed that nouns were the easiest group to learn. Further analysis showed that certain spelling patterns correlate with increased difficulty as measured by the number of repetitions needed by the learner. Because completely accurate spelling is critical for the program to recognize the learner’s answer as correct, it could of course be argued that exact spelling is given far too much weight in this context, and that the learner would ideally be given partial credits for otherwise correct answers. Despite such shortcomings on the part of the software used, the analysis sheds some new light on the complexities of the process of incremental vocabulary learning. One interesting finding is that the spelling of Welsh words seems to present a considerable obstacle to the beginning learner despite the fact that Welsh is said to have a shallow orthography, which should therefore be relatively unproblematic to acquire.
Vocabulary trainers, CALL, Welsh
College of Arts and Humanities