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The role of verbal and pictorial information in multimodal incidental acquisition of foreign language vocabulary

Bisson, Marie Josée; van Heuven, Walter J.B.; Conklin, Kathy; Tunney, Richard J.


Marie Josée Bisson

Richard J. Tunney


© 2014 The Author. Published by Taylor & Francis. This study used eye tracking to investigate the allocation of attention to multimodal stimuli during an incidental learning situation, as well as its impact on subsequent explicit learning. Participants were exposed to foreign language (FL) auditory words on their own, in conjunction with written native language (NL) translations, or with both written NL translations and pictures. Incidental acquisition of FL words was assessed the following day through an explicit learning task where participants learned to recognize translation equivalents, as well as one week later through recall and translation recognition tests. Results showed higher accuracy scores in the explicit learning task for FL words presented with meaning during incidental learning, whether written meaning or both written meaning and picture, than for FL words presented auditorily only. However, participants recalled significantly more FL words after a week delay if they had been presented with a picture during incidental learning. In addition, the time spent looking at the pictures during incidental learning significantly predicted recognition and recall scores one week later. Overall, results demonstrated the impact of exposure to multimodal stimuli on subsequent explicit learning, as well as the important role that pictorial information can play in incidental vocabulary acquisition.


Bisson, M. J., van Heuven, W. J., Conklin, K., & Tunney, R. J. (2014). The role of verbal and pictorial information in multimodal incidental acquisition of foreign language vocabulary. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 68(7), 1306-1326.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 15, 2014
Online Publication Date Dec 6, 2014
Publication Date Dec 6, 2014
Deposit Date Mar 15, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jul 1, 2015
Journal Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Print ISSN 1747-0218
Electronic ISSN 1747-0226
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 68
Issue 7
Pages 1306-1326
Keywords Incidental learning, Vocabulary acquisition, Eye tracking, Multimodalities, Foreign language learning
Public URL
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address:


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