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Learning environments and the use of vocabulary learning strategies : a case study of Chinese learners

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:43 authored by Dakun Wang
This thesis reports a study of how Chinese students use strategies when learning second language vocabulary. The focus of the study is on the effect of learning environments (EFL vs. ESL) and learner's achievement level on the use of vocabulary learning strategies. The subjects are Chinese secondary school students learning English in China (EFL context) and in Singapore (ESL context). For the investigation purpose, I developed in this study a two-phase research design, which consisted of a quantitative phase and a qualitative phase. Phase one was a survey using a modified version of the questionnaire developed by Gu and Johnson (1996). 450 secondary school students, aged from 16 to 19, from two secondary schools in Harbin, China and one boarding school in Singapore participated in the survey. The profile of the students' learning beliefs, sources and strategies was examined in relation to their learning environments and achievement level. The t test results showed that learning environment and achievement level were significant factors in affecting vocabulary learning beliefs, sources and strategy use. Phase Two was to make use of the qualitative data collected from selected participants through diaries and interviews to triangulate and illuminate the findings of the questionnaire survey in Phase One. The findings were generally consistent with the findings of Phase One, though with minor discrepancies. The findings suggest that the combined effects of the teaching emphasis and the amount of exposure to the target language in and out of the classroom should be considered closely in order to understand the strategy choice of Chinese EFL learners, and that integrative strategy training should aim at fostering positive cognition about language learning, facilitating self-directed learning, and identifying pedagogical approaches in an attempt to nurture intrinsic motivation in students' learning process.


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Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • EdD



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