Investigating the optimal mode of input for the acquisition of L2 formulaic sequences.

Research output: Unpublished conference presentation (presented paper, abstract, poster)Conference presentation (not published in journal/proceeding/book)Academic researchpeer-review


For decades, written input has been considered the ‘ideal medium’ for L2 vocabulary acquisition (Ellis, 1995, p. 106). However, recent studies (by Author) have argued for the fundamental role of spoken input in the acquisition of L2 formulaic sequences (FSs).

To address the question about which input mode is optimal for L2 FS learning, a control experiment was conducted. One hundred and three Chinese EFL learners learned three comparable lists of 18 novel binomials (e.g. commit and deny, evil and tricky) presented in three input modes, i.e. written, spoken with natural prosody and spoken with word-by-word prosody. To examine whether the optimal input mode for L2 FS learning may be subject to individual differences in L2 proficiency and L2 verbal processing ability, subjects’ L2 proficiency and phonological short-term memory (PSTM) capacity, vocabulary size and prosodic sensitivity were also measured.

The ANOVA results indicate that spoken input produced significantly greater learning than written input; and that EFL learners learned significantly better through spoken input with word-by-word prosody than that with natural prosody. In the regression analysis, input mode and vocabulary size are both significant predictors; together, they account for 41 percent of the variance in L2 FS learning. K-means clustering was also applied. The unsupervised statistical method put the EFL learners into three distinct clusters based on individual differences in L2 proficiency and L2 verbal processing ability. The results again point towards vocabulary size being a predictor of L2 FS learning.

The study pushes the boundaries of L2 vocabulary acquisition research. For the first time, it provides empirical evidence that spoken input is optimal for L2 FS learning, even though written input may be more conducive to L2 word learning. Furthermore, input mode and vocabulary size predict success in L2 FS learning.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019
EventVocab@Leuven - University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
Duration: 1 Jul 20193 Jul 2019



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