Vocabulary Knowledge and Its Effects on Reading Behavior and Vocabulary Acquisition in Native and Non-Native Speakers of English



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The current study examined whether vocabulary depth and breadth knowledge affected online reading behavior and incidental vocabulary acquisition in native and non-native English speaking adults. Morphological knowledge was examined as a specific measure of vocabulary depth. The aim of the study was to determine whether vocabulary knowledge would predict acquisition, and whether morphological accessibility of the target words would affect online reading behavior and rates of acquisition. Fifty-four Mount Holyoke College students were given a battery of vocabulary knowledge tasks, a set of passages to read while their eyes were tracked, and a surprise vocabulary test following passage reading. Target words in passages were either morphologically accessible real words, morphologically inaccessible real words, or morphologically accessible non-words. Behavior in and around target words was examined, namely gaze duration, first-fixation duration, total time, fixation count, regression in and out count, and skip count. Pearson's r, Cronbach's alpha, exploratory factor and regression analyses were conducted to determine the relationship between knowledge, language status, and total incidental acquisition score. Further analyses were conducted to determine the relationship between morphological accessibility of target word, language status, and eye-movement behavior. Results demonstrated a significant relationship between non-native speakers' knowledge and total vocabulary acquisition, between accessibility and measures of eye movement, and between accessibility and vocabulary acquisition scores, in both native and non native speakers. This indicated that morphological knowledge played a role in acquisition, and that it was present in both English native and non-native speakers while reading English words. It also indicated that morphological knowledge can significantly affect aspects of processing during online reading in both native and non-native speakers.



psychology, morphology, psycholinguistics, eye movement, eye-tracking, native English speakers, non-native English speakers, bilingual, multilingual, monolingual, morphological knowledge, vocabulary depth, vocabulary breadth, vocabulary knowledge