Open Journal Systems

The effect of content retelling on incidental vocabulary acquisition for Chinese EFL learners

Jingyi Jin, Shuguang Li

Article ID: 1461
Vol 4, Issue 1, 2022, Article identifier:147-162

VIEWS - 130 (Abstract) 96 (PDF)


As the foundation of English learning, the acquisition of vocabulary has always been a hot topic in the fields of second language acquisition and foreign language teaching. Contrasted with intentional vocabulary acquisition, incidental vocabulary acquisition (IVA) relates to lexical gains as a by-product of main cognitive activities. In the field of teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) in Chinese high schools, the incidental acquisition of English vocabulary has increasingly attracted the academic attention in recent years. However, few empirical studies have focused on the incidental acquisition of English vocabulary engendered by doing content retelling tasks. In light of the inadequacy, this study adopted the quality audio-visual material as input and content retelling as output (forming an input-output-input circle), aiming at exploring the effect of retelling on Chinese high school EFL learners’ IVA. Results indicated that learners who retold the content of the audio-visual material between two viewings can pick up more words. In this process, the attempted use of new words in oral reproduction plays a positive role in strengthening the immediate acquisition and long-term retention of the target words.


incidental vocabulary acquisition; audio-visual material; content retelling; pick up and retention

Full Text:


Included Database


Anthony ARB (2008) Output strategies for English-language learners: Theory to practice. Reading Teacher 61(6): 472–482.

Brown R, Waring R, and Donkaewbua S (2008) Incidental vocabulary acquisition from reading, reading-while-listening, and listening to stories. Reading in a Foreign Language 20(2): 136–163.

Craik FIM and Lockhart RS (1972) Levels of processing: A framework for memory research. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 11(6): 671–684.

Douglas V (2016) Enhancing English academic vocabulary acquisition and retention in intensive English programs with the involvement load hypothesis. Theory and Practice in Language Studies 6(12): 2237–2244.

Eckerth J and Tavakoli P (2012) The effects of word exposure frequency and elaboration of word processing on incidental L2 vocabulary acquisition through reading. Language Teaching Research 1(2): 227–252.

Ellis R (1999) Learning a Second Language through Interaction. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Horst M, Cobb T, and Meara P (1998) Beyond a clockwork orange: Acquiring second language vocabulary through reading. Reading in a Foreign Language 11(2): 207–223.

Hu HM and Nassaji H (2016) Effective vocabulary learning tasks: Involvement Load Hypothesis versus Technique Feature Analysis. System 56: 28–39.

Huckin T and Coady J (1999) Incidental vocabulary acquisition in a second language: A review. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 21(2): 181–193.

Hulstijn JH and Laufer B (2001) Some empirical evidence for the Involvement Load Hypothesis in vocabulary acquisition. Language Learning 51(3): 539–558.

Hwang K and Nation P (1989) Reducing the vocabulary load and encouraging vocabulary learning through reading newspapers. Reading in a Foreign Language 6(1): 323–335.

Joe A (1998) What effects do text-based tasks promoting generation have on incidental vocabulary acquisition? Applied Linguistics 19(3): 357–377.

Kim Y (2008) The role of task-induced involvement and learner proficiency in L2 vocabulary acquisition. Language Learning 58(2): 285–325.

Laufer B (2003) Vocabulary acquisition in a second language: Do learners really acquire most vocabulary by reading? Some empirical evidence. Canadian Modern Language Review 59(4): 567–587.

Laufer B and Rozovski-Roitblat B (2011) Incidental vocabulary acquisition: The effects of task type, word occurrence and their combination. Language Teaching Research 15(4): 391–411.

Laufer B and Hulstijn J (2001) Incidental vocabulary acquisition in a second language: The construct of task-induced involvement. Applied Linguistics 22(1): 1–26.

Lu M (2013) Effects of four vocabulary exercises on facilitating learning vocabulary meaning, form, and use. TESOL Quarterly 47(1): 167–176.

Min HT (2008) EFL vocabulary acquisition and retention: Reading plus vocabulary enhancement activities and narrow reading. Language Learning 58(1): 73–115.

Nagy WE, Herman PA, and Anderson RC (1985) Learning words from context. Reading Research Quarterly 20(2): 233–253.

Nation ISP (2007) The four strands. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching 1(1): 1–12.

Nation ISP and Webb S (2011) Researching and Analyzing Vocabulary. Boston: Heinle.

Neuman B and Koskinen P (1992) Captioned television as comprehensible input: Effects of incidental word learning from context for language minority students. Reading Research Quarterly 27(1): 94–106.

Nguyen C and Boers F (2019) The effect of content retelling on vocabulary uptake from a TED Talk. TESOL Quarterly 53(1): 5–29.

Paribakht S and Wesche M (1997) Vocabulary enhancement activities and reading for meaning in second language vocabulary acquisition. In: Coady J and Huckin T (eds.) Second Language Vocabulary Acquisition: A Rationale for Pedagogy. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp.174–200.

Peters E (2012) The differential effects of two vocabulary instruction methods on EFL word learning: A study into task effectiveness. International Review of Applied Linguistics 50(3): 213–238.

Rassaei E (2015) Effects of three forms of reading-based output activity on L2 vocabulary learning. Language Teaching Research 21(1): 76–95.

Richards J and Schmidt R (2010) Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics (4th edn.). Malaysia: Pearson Education.

Secules T, Herron C, and Tomasello M (1992) The effect of video context on foreign language learning. The Modern Language Journal 76(4): 480–490.

Sousa DA (2006) How the Brain Learns? (5th edn.). Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.

Suk N (2017) The effects of extensive reading on reading comprehension, reading rate, and vocabulary acquisition. Reading Research Quarterly 52(1): 73–89.

Sun CH (2017) The value of picture-book reading-based collaborative output activities for vocabulary retention. Language Teaching Research 21(1): 96–117.

Swain M (1985) Communicative competence: Some roles of comprehensible input and comprehensible output in its development. In: Gass S and Maddern C (eds.) Input in Second Language Acquisition. Rowley: Newbury House, pp.235–253.

Swain M (1995) Three functions of output in second language learning. In: Cook G and Seidlhofer B (eds.) Principles and Practice in Applied Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.125–144.

van Zeeland H and Schmitt N (2013) Incidental vocabulary acquisition through L2 listening: A dimensions approach. System 41(3): 609–624.

Vidal K (2003) Academic listening: A source of vocabulary acquisition? Applied Linguistics 24(1): 56–86.

Vidal K (2011) A comparison of the effects of reading and listening on incidental vocabulary acquisition. Language Learning 61(1): 219–258.

Wagner E (2002) Video listening tests: A pilot study. Working Papers in TESOL and Applied Linguistics 2(1): 1–39.

Wen Q (2008) [On the output-driven hypothesis and the reform of English-skill courses for English majors]. Foreign Language World (2): 2–9.

Wen Q (2015) [Developing a theoretical system of production-oriented approach in language teaching]. Foreign Language Teaching and Research 47(4): 547–558, 640.

Weyers JR (1999) The effect of authentic video on communicative competence. The Modern Language Journal 83(3): 339–349.

Yang Y, Shintani N, Li S, et al. (2017) The effectiveness of post-reading word-focused activities and their associations with working memory. System 70: 38–49.

Zou D (2017) Vocabulary acquisition through cloze exercises, sentence-writing and composition-writing: Extending the evaluation component of the involvement load hypothesis. Language Teaching Research 21(1): 54–75.

(130 Abstract Views, 96 PDF Downloads)


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2022 Jingyi Jin, Shuguang Li