Foreign Language Vocabulary Learning Strategies: Patterns of use among college students
Type of Degreedissertation
Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology
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The purpose of the current study was to (a) uncover the underlying factors of foreign language vocabulary learning strategies, taking both alphabet-based languages (ABL) and character-based languages (CBL) into consideration; (b) describe students’ use of vocabulary learning strategies (VLS) and examine the differences in frequency of VLS use between the two language groups; and (c) identify the effects of gender, college major, motivation and other variables on the use of VLS. Overall, the study was a quantitative inquiry where techniques such as exploratory factor analysis, correlation, group comparisons, and multiple regression were utilized. Data were collected using a self-report survey – Strategy Inventory of Foreign Language Vocabulary Learning, which consisted of a background information questionnaire, an inventory of vocabulary learning strategies (based largely on Schmitt’s 1997 taxonomy and Stoffer’s work in 1995), and questions about students’ motivation and reasons for taking the current language course. Total of 499 college students enrolled in six language courses, namely, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish, participated in the study. The results from the factor analyses revealed different data structures for the ABL group and CBL group. Four and five factors were extracted and named for the two language groups respectively. Comparisons of strategy use frequency revealed that students from the two language groups, on one hand, did share some favorite strategies, and, on the other hand, had their own preferences to cope with the unique challenges of the language. Results from analyses of variance and multiple regression indicated that gender, major, motivation, study time, and GPA were significantly related to students’ overall VLS use; while course level, academic level and heritage learner status did not have such effects. Results from the multiple regression analyses also indicated that motivation for learning the language was the best predictor of overall vocabulary language strategy use, which is in accordance with previous studies. Suggestions were made to teachers and students based on the patterns of VLS use emerged for the two language groups.