Ease and Difficulty in Vocabulary Learning: Some Teaching Implications

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


ABSTRACT This paper discusses the relationship between ease/difficulty in learning particular words and some issues in the teaching of vocabulary. Some factors that interfere with learning a word are claimed to be the following: similarity of form between the word and other words (embrace/embarrass, price/prize); morphological similarity between it and other words (industrial/industrious, respectable/respective); deceptive morphological structure (infallible); different syntactic patterning in L1; differences in the classification of experience between L1 and L2 (one‐to‐many correspondence, partial overlap in meaning, metaphorical extension, lexical voids, multiplicity of meaning); abstractness; specificity; negative value; connotations nonexistent in L1; differences in the pragmatic meaning of near synonyms and of L1 translation equivalents; the learning burden of synonyms; the apparent rulelessness of collocations. It is argued that word learnability (ease/difficulty in learning a particular word) can serve as a guideline to the following: the selection of words to be taught; their presentation (quantity, grouping, language of presentation, isolation/ context issue); the facilitation of long‐term memorization (meaningful tasks, mnemonic techniques, rote learning, reactivation); the development of strategies for self‐learning; and the assessment of vocabulary knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-155
Number of pages9
JournalForeign Language Annals
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'Ease and Difficulty in Vocabulary Learning: Some Teaching Implications'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this