The Effects of Task Involvement Load on L2 Incidental Vocabulary Learning: A Meta-Analytic Study

Shufen Huang, Victor Willson, Zohreh Eslami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)


This meta-analytic study provides a systematic statistical synthesis of the effects of output tasks on second or foreign incidental vocabulary learning. A total of 12 studies were included this meta-analysis. Five mediator variables were examined: design quality, types of output task, time on task, genres of text, and text-target word ratios. Results show that language learners who completed an output task outperformed those who only read a text. Results also support the involvement load hypothesis: Language learners who performed a task with a higher degree of involvement load, gained more vocabulary. Studies with high and medium levels of design quality were more likely to detect statistically significant differences among groups with different output tasks, compared to studies with a low level of design quality. Furthermore, results indicate that time on task had positive effects on vocabulary learning. Learners who read a combination of expository and narrative text gained more vocabulary than those who only read either an expository or narrative text. Learners who read a text with text-target word ratios of less than or equal to 2% did not learn significantly more vocabulary than those who read a text with a ratio of 2% to 5%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)544-557
Number of pages14
JournalModern Language Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics

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