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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Reading enhancement strategies are an important tool utilized by foreign language teachers. One of the most common types of during-reading assistance is the marginal gloss, which provides first language (L1) translations of selected foreign language (L2) terms in the margins of a text.

Glossing is an inherently individual approach to reading. It is predominantly motivation-driven, and provides as much assistance to the learner as he or she is willing to use it. Studies to this point have been largely inconsistent in regards to the exact usefulness of glossing, analyzing many variables such as the size, scope, and type of gloss, as well as the language read.

The present study uses glossing while reading a text to investigate whether glossing helps L2 learners learn Chinese and/or helps with their long-term memory. The text was adapted from a pedagogical website for Western learners of Chinese, and the gloss comprised six of the most meaningful terms in the text.

A total of 10 students learning Chinese as a foreign language participated in the present study. These beginner learners were divided into one of two groups, where the only variable was the presence or absence of a marginal vocabulary gloss.

The participants were tasked with reading a short passage in Chinese while responding to comprehension questions in English. Group A read the text without the assistance of a gloss, while Group B read while using a gloss. Participants had access to the text (and gloss, if applicable) while working on the text.

One week later, participants were tasked with remembering the meanings of the selected Key Terms which appeared in the passage. They were also asked to briefly summarize the text in as much detail as they remembered.

In analyzing the responses of the participants after both Part 1 and Part 2, it was found that glossing provided minimal assistance in regards to vocabulary recall in the future, but did much more to aid in comprehension at the time of reading. In addition, L1 translations which appear in the gloss are more likely to be remembered than the L2 terms to which they correspond.

Moreover, this study sheds light on various language acquisition theories, such as incidental vocabulary learning, involvement load, cognitive load, and Input Hypothesis. The results support the efficacy of glossing on during-reading comprehension through the aforementioned theories. Evidence of many of these theories of language processing are evident in the responses of each of the participants and will be analyzed on a case-by-case basis.


First Advisor

Zhijun Wang

Second Advisor

Yuki Yoshimura