A Snapshot of Vocabulary Recycling: How German Language Textbooks Treat Vocabulary

Kailey Preston, Purdue University


This study is an investigation into vocabulary recycling in beginning-level German language textbooks. Vocabulary recycling, or the reuse of previously introduced vocabulary words, is important in foreign language education because several "meetings" with a word (up to sixteen), both within a few days and across a longer period of time, are required for successful acquisition of a word (Pimsleur, 1967; Saragi, Nation & Meister, 1978; Nation, 2001). Attention to vocabulary recycling in the sphere of foreign language education is fairly new. However, investigations in Spanish and EFL contexts found that vocabulary recycling is largely insufficient and that instructors are aware of this pedagogical issue (Jiménez, 2009; Jiménez, 2014). These results have not been confirmed in other languages, such as German. Thus, the purpose of this study is to qualitatively and quantitatively examine vocabulary recycling in beginning-level German language textbooks. Results suggest that textbooks sufficiently recycle about half of the presented vocabulary (sufficiently here meaning sixteen or more meetings). The results of this study have pedagogical implications in that, when textbooks do not provide enough meetings with a vocabulary word, the responsibility falls on the instructor to provide those meetings. This lack of sufficient vocabulary recycling is only magnified if teachers do not finish the entire textbook (i.e. only teaching ten chapters out of twelve), or if teachers do not use all of the provided activities in the textbook. The responsibility then falls on the instructor to intentionally create materials that recycle the vocabulary in a sufficient manner. Thus, both textbook presentation and teacher-designed vocabulary review activities are paramount in a successful foreign language curriculum.




Neary-Sundquist, Purdue University.

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