The Effects of Differing Densities of Glossing on Vocabulary Uptake and Reading Comprehension

Elvenna Majuddin


This study investigated the effects of differing densities of glossing on the uptake of target words and the comprehension of idea units from a reading text. The focus was whether different densities of glossing would create trade-off effects. Thirty-three Malaysian ESL learners were assigned to three different conditions: high-density glossing, low-density glossing, and no-glossing. Three weeks after a vocabulary pretest the participants read a text under one of the conditions, and took a reading comprehension test and a vocabulary posttest. The results revealed that there were no trade-off effects between reading comprehension and uptake of the target words. However, the glossed words did appear to detract from the uptake of un-glossed vocabulary. The results also hinted at a trade-off effect between attention given to idea units containing glossed target words, and those that did not contain glosses. The findings suggested that teachers should be aware of potential side-effects of glossing. 

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