How can we learn foreign language vocabulary more easily?

Brian Mathias*, Christian Andrä, Katja M. Mayer, Leona Sureth, Andrea Klingebiel, Gesa Hartwigsen, Manuela Macedonia, Katharina von Kriegstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Have you ever tried to remember a word in a foreign language? What strategy did you use? In several studies, we examined the beneficial effects of viewing pictures and performing gestures while learning foreign language words. Both pictures and gestures helped primary school kids and adults to better remember the meanings of foreign language words compared to learning by just listening. For kids, pictures and gestures were equally helpful. For adults, gestures were more helpful than pictures. Both visual and motor brain areas helped with learning the foreign language words. Our studies suggest that learning foreign language words with pictures and gestures is helpful for learners, because pictures and gestures allow both kids and adults to experience the meanings of words through multiple senses.
Original languageEnglish
Article number89
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers for Young Minds
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

The authors would like to thank those who assisted in the translation
of the articles in this Collection to make them more accessible
to kids outside English-speaking countries, and for the Jacobs
Foundation for providing the funds necessary to translate the articles.
For this article, they would especially like to thank Nienke van
Atteveldt and Sabine Peters for the Dutch translation. This work was
funded by the German Research Foundation grant KR 3735/3-1,
a Schulbezogene Forschung grant from the Saxony Zentrum für
Lehrerbildung und Schulforschung (ZLS), and an Erasmus Mundus
Postdoctoral Fellowship in Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience. BM also supported by the European Research Council Consolidator Grant
SENSOCOM 647051 to KvK.


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