LINGUIST List 21.2206
Wed May 12 2010
Diss: Lang Acq/Applied Ling: Drumhiller: 'An Investigation of ...'
Editor for this issue: Mfon Udoinyang
An Investigation of Native Language Vocabulary and Topic Knowledge as Predictors of Foreign Language Vocabulary Learning in Healthcare Providers
Message 1: An Investigation of Native Language Vocabulary and Topic Knowledge as Predictors of Foreign Language Vocabulary Learning in Healthcare Providers
From: Marcia Drumhiller <hankdrumaol.com>
Subject: An Investigation of Native Language Vocabulary and Topic Knowledge as Predictors of Foreign Language Vocabulary Learning in Healthcare Providers
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Institution: University of Georgia
Program: Educational Psychology/Applied Cognition
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2009
Author: Marcia Foresee Drumhiller
Dissertation Title: An Investigation of Native Language Vocabulary and Topic Knowledge as Predictors of Foreign Language Vocabulary Learning in Healthcare Providers
Subject Language(s): English (eng)
General foreign language courses do not sufficiently meet the needs ofprofessional adults who must learn to function in another language in ashort period of time. Factors that accelerate foreign language learning inadults should be identified in order to address professional communicationneeds. Native language, it has been demonstrated, can facilitate secondlanguage learning. Second, topic knowledge has been shown to increaseforeign language understanding. However, the relative importance of nativelanguage and topic knowledge to the acquisition of foreign language is notwell understood.
The present study investigates the influence of native English vocabularysize and topic knowledge of adult learners on medical Spanish vocabularyacquisition. Forty-four healthcare workers in public and hospitalhealthcare settings were studied to determine the influence of 12 hours ofmedical Spanish vocabulary instruction on subsequent medical Spanishvocabulary acquisition. Prior to instruction the Nelson-Denny VocabularyTest, a medical Spanish vocabulary test, and an English medical terminologytest were administered to all participants. Post test medical Spanishvocabulary scores indicated that by themselves, both medical vocabularyknowledge and English vocabulary skill were significant predictors ofmedical Spanish vocabulary acquisition. Medical vocabulary knowledge,however, explained most of the variance in medical Spanish vocabularyacquisition. This group's apparent preference for the use of topicknowledge over native English vocabulary for learning Spanish is congruentwith current models of working and long term memory, where highly organizedconcepts in long term memory free the working memory to attend to and learnnew labels in another language. A curricular shift toward content-centeredvocabulary may be warranted for some groups of foreign language learners.
Index words: background knowledge, content, expertise, foreign language,languages for specific purposes (LSP), long-term memory, medical Spanish,second language, topic knowledge, vocabulary