[lg policy] Dissertation: An Investigation of Native Language Vocabulary and Topic Knowledge as Predictors of Foreign Language Vocabulary Learning in Healthcare Providers

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu May 13 14:10:30 UTC 2010

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)
                            Spanish (spa)

Dissertation Director:
Paula Schwanenflugel
Liang Chen
Shawn Glynn

Dissertation Abstract:

General foreign language courses do not sufficiently meet the needs of
professional adults who must learn to function in another language in a
short period of time. Factors that accelerate foreign language learning in
adults should be identified in order to address professional communication
needs. Native language, it has been demonstrated, can facilitate second
language learning. Second, topic knowledge has been shown to increase
foreign language understanding. However, the relative importance of native
language and topic knowledge to the acquisition of foreign language is not
well understood.

The present study investigates the influence of native English vocabulary
size and topic knowledge of adult learners on medical Spanish vocabulary
acquisition. Forty-four healthcare workers in public and hospital
healthcare settings were studied to determine the influence of 12 hours of
medical Spanish vocabulary instruction on subsequent medical Spanish
vocabulary acquisition. Prior to instruction the Nelson-Denny Vocabulary
Test, a medical Spanish vocabulary test, and an English medical terminology
test were administered to all participants. Post test medical Spanish
vocabulary scores indicated that by themselves, both medical vocabulary
knowledge and English vocabulary skill were significant predictors of
medical Spanish vocabulary acquisition. Medical vocabulary knowledge,
however, explained most of the variance in medical Spanish vocabulary
acquisition. This group's apparent preference for the use of topic
knowledge over native English vocabulary for learning Spanish is congruent
with current models of working and long term memory, where highly organized
concepts in long term memory free the working memory to attend to and learn
new labels in another language. A curricular shift toward content-centered
vocabulary 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

N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to
its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner
or sponsor of the list as to the veracity of a message's contents.
Members who disagree with a message are encouraged to post a rebuttal.
(H. Schiffman, Moderator)

For more information about the lgpolicy-list, go to
This message came to you by way of the lgpolicy-list mailing list
lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu
To manage your subscription unsubscribe, or arrange digest format: https://groups.sas.upenn.edu/mailman/listinfo/lgpolicy-list

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list