Undergraduate EAL (English-as-an-Additional-Language) Students' Reported Use of Vocabulary Learning Strategies and its Relationship vis-à-vis Language Proficiency, Vocabulary Size, and Gender

Date

2015-01-09

Authors

Cai, Mengyue

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Abstract

In the field of second language vocabulary learning, numerous studies had been done to investigate language learners’ use of vocabulary learning strategies, as well as relationships between the use of vocabulary learning strategies and other individual variables (e.g., personality, intelligence, major, learning style, etc.). To fill the gap in the literature reviewed, the present study examined the use of vocabulary learning strategies reported by 95 Chinese undergraduate engineering students, and relationships between the use of vocabulary learning strategies and three key variables, i.e., language proficiency, vocabulary size, and gender. Results of this study indicated: 1) With a reported frequency of overall vocabulary learning strategies use of medium, Chinese undergraduate engineering students use determination strategies most frequently, while social strategies the least. 2) There is a negative relationship between the use of overall vocabulary learning strategies reported by Chinese undergraduate engineering students and their language proficiency. In terms of the use of the five categories of vocabulary learning strategies, determination, cognitive, and metacognitive strategies are positively correlated to Chinese undergraduate engineering students’ language proficiency. While social and memory strategies are negatively correlated. On the level of individual vocabulary learning strategies, ten individual vocabulary learning strategies are significantly correlated with language proficiency. 3) Chinese undergraduate engineering students’ use of overall vocabulary learning strategies and vocabulary size are positively correlated. In terms of the use of the five categories of vocabulary learning strategies, social strategies is negatively correlated with vocabulary size while the remaining four categories are positively correlated. On the level of individual vocabulary learning strategies, significant correlations are identified between the use of three individual vocabulary learning strategies and vocabulary size. 4) No significant difference is found between male and female Chinese undergraduate engineering students on uses of overall vocabulary learning strategies, although male Chinese undergraduate engineering students employ overall vocabulary learning strategies more frequently than females. When analyzing the use of the five categories of vocabulary learning strategies, male students employ social, memory, and cognitive strategies more frequently than female students while female students employ determination and metacognitive strategies more frequently. In terms of the gender differences on the use of individual vocabulary learning strategies, female students employ two individual vocabulary learning strategies more frequently than male students at significant levels. Findings of the present study illustrate Chinese undergraduate engineering students’ reported use of vocabulary learning strategies, as well as correlations between the use of vocabulary learning strategies and language proficiency, vocabulary size, and gender. It is recommended that English language teachers in China spending more time on vocabulary learning strategies training and taking advantages of the individual vocabulary learning strategies that can contribute to students’ language learning.

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Keywords

Vocabulary Learning Strategy, Chinese EAL students

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