Lexis was, for a long time, paid scant attention to in foreign language
teaching. Over the last 20 years, however, vocabulary acquisition has
become a focus of academic research. In particular, the Cognitive
Linguistic perspective on foreign language learning offers a rich
theoretical framework for research in this area, since it encapsulates both
ease of learning and a more profound knowledge of the target language.
Learning vocabulary in school contexts, however, is still strongly
associated with rote learning in many parts of the world, that is, the
repetition of items, usually using lists with little or no contextual
information. The implications of Cognitive Linguistics form the basis of an
intervention study carried out in German primary schools. This investigates
whether lessons enabling learners to elaborate on words and thereby process
the vocabulary more deeply lead to better long-term retention of these
items. The results of this empirical study are used to evaluate the
relevance and benefits of the theoretical implications of vocabulary
research for primary school learners of English.