Contextual L2 word learning may be facilitated by increasing readers’ engagement with form and meaning of novel words. In the present study, two adult L2 populations, Chinese and Dutch speakers, read English sentences that contained novel vocabulary. These contextual exposures were accompanied either by form-focused elaboration (i.e. word-writing) or by meaning-focused elaboration (i.e. actively deriving word meaning from context). Immediate and delayed offline and online measures of word knowledge showed superior learning outcomes for the word-writing treatment. This finding is aligned with the predictions of the lexical quality hypothesis (Perfetti and Hart 2002), highlighting the added value of more precise encoding of a word’s form, in addition to learning its meaning. The key pedagogical implication of this study is that a simple act of copying novel words, while processing meaningful L2 input, may significantly boost quality of lexical knowledge.

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