The influence of electronic glosses on word retention and reading comprehension with Spanish language learners.

Ben Salem, Elyes, Ph.D., The University of Kansas, 2007.


This study investigated the impact of different types of electronic glosses on word retention and reading comprehension among second language (L2) Spanish learners. Ninety-three English-speaking college students enrolled in a third semester (intermediatelevel) Spanish course were directed to use a web-based reading text in Spanish with 25 annotated words. Each participant read the text under one of the following conditions: (1) No glossing (NONE), (2) text (T) (translation of the target word in English), (3) text and audio (TA) (pronunciation of key word in both English and Spanish), (4) text, audio and picture (TAP), or (5) text, audio, picture and writing (TAPW) (writing down on a piece of paper the gloss that students consulted).

Reading comprehension and vocabulary tests, computer log files, and a background questionnaire were used to collect data. Students completed a multiple-choice comprehension test after the treatment. A multiple-choice recognition and production vocabulary test was administered after the reading test and again two weeks later to measure word retention. Students' interaction with the text was tracked using a computer program. The results show that students who used glosses had higher reading comprehension scores (M=17.2) than non-gloss users (M=9.2), (F=82.8, p>.000) and higher vocabulary test scores (M=13.9) than non-gloss users (M=7.2), (F=23.4, p>.000). No statistically significant differences were found between the groups that had access to glosses in terms of their performance in reading comprehension and vocabulary tests. The number of gloss access (M=48.8) was positively correlated to comprehension (M=17.8), (r=.40, p>.002) and vocabulary acquisition (M=13.9), (r=.42, p>.000). The strongest positive correlation between gloss access and vocabulary acquisition was for condition 3 (text + audio) (r=.63, p>.02) and condition 5 (text + audio + picture + writing) (r=.69, p>.03). Reading time (M=9.2 minutes) was positively correlated to comprehension (M=17.9), (r=.29 p>001). In condition 3, gloss access (M=54.8) correlated positively to vocabulary acquisition (M=14.7), (r=.69, p>.002.).

It was concluded that the more frequently second-language learners consult electronic glosses, the better they comprehend and acquire new words. Glosses with text, audio, and pictures (TAP) are particularly beneficial in advancing the ability to produce newly learned words.