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Ngo Xuan Minh   051 E1   Vocabulary Level And Vls Of First Year Ulis English Majors
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    Ngo Xuan Minh   051 E1   Vocabulary Level And Vls Of First Year Ulis English Majors Ngo Xuan Minh 051 E1 Vocabulary Level And Vls Of First Year Ulis English Majors Document Transcript

    • VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI University of Languages and international Studies ENGLISH DEPARTMENT NGÔ XUÂN MINH VOCABULARY LEVEL AND VOCABULARY LEARNING STRATEGIES OF FIRST-YEAR ULIS MAINSTREAM ENGLISH MAJORS Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements For the degree of Bachelor of Arts (TEFL) Hanoi, May 2009
    • ACCEPTANCE I hereby state that I: Ngô Xuân Minh, 051E1, being a candidate for the degree of Bachelor of Arts (TEFL) accept the requirements of the College relating to the retention and use of Bachelor’s Graduation Paper deposited in the library. In terms of these conditions, I agree that the origin of my paper deposited in the library should be accessible for the purposes of study and research, in accordance with the normal conditions established by the librarian for the care, loan or reproduction of the paper. Signature May, 2009
    • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This paper would not have been completed without the support of many people, to all of whom I am profoundly indebted. First and foremost, I would like to thank my supervisor Ms. Nguyen Huyen Minh, M.A. for her constant support and insightful comments which were decisive factors in the completion of the study. In addition, sincere thanks are due to the teachers and students of Division 1 for allowing me to administer the test and interview schedule during their invaluable class time. Last but not least, I am truly grateful to my family and friends for their continual encouragement during the time I conducted the research. i
    • ABSTRACT This study has been conducted in order to bridge the research gap in vocabulary and vocabulary learning strategies at English Department, University of Languages and International Studies, VNU. It first aims at finding out first-year ULIS mainstream English majors’ vocabulary level - the guiding information for vocabulary learning and teaching. More than that, it investigates the target population’s use of vocabulary learning strategies, particularly the specific strategies they use and the problems in their use of these strategies. For these objectives, 104 first-year ULIS mainstream English majors were involved in taking the Vocabulary Level Tests by Nation (1983) and ten of them were invited to face-to-face interviews. The test scores reveal that over 80% of the target population has mastered the 2,000-word level and hence the teaching of vocabulary to them should move from direct instruction of lexical items to strategy training. The demand for strategy training is even more pressing in light of the tendency towards simpler and less effective vocabulary learning strategies and the inadequate use of familiar and favored vocabulary learning strategies as indicated by the interview data. To make strategy training more feasible, a suggested syllabus with detailed descriptions of content, material, methodology and assessment is also offered. ii
    • LISTS OF TABLES, FIGURES AND ABBREVIATIONS List of tables Table 2.1. Knowing a word (Nation, 1990) Table 2.2. Nation’s Taxonomy of VLS Table 2.3. Gu and Johnson’s Taxonomy of VLS Table 2.4. Schmitt’s Taxonomy of VLS Table 3.1. Interviewee Profile Table 4.1. Students’ mastery of three levels Table 4.2. Students’ use of discovery strategies Table 4.3. Students’ use of consolidation strategies Table 4.4. Students’ use of 4 sub-categories of consolidation strategies Table 4.5. Types of information obtained by students from dictionaries Table 5.1. A course in vocabulary learning strategies List of figures Chart 4.1. 2,000-word level score distribution Chart 4.2. 3,000-word level score distribution Chart 4.3. 5,000-word level score distribution List of abbreviations EVST: Eurocentres Vocabulary Size Test VLS: Vocabulary Learning Strategies ULIS: University of Languages and International Studies L1: first language L2: second language CLT: Communicative language teaching TESOL: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages vi
    • CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION This chapter sheds light on the research problem and rationale for the study as well as its scope and significance. More importantly, the aims and objectives are highlighted with three research questions. Lastly, the chapter concludes with an overview of the rest of the paper, serving as a compass to orientate the readers throughout the research. 1.1. Statement of the problem and rationale for the study “Without grammar very little can be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed” (David Wilkins as cited in Thornbury, 2002). This view of the renowned linguist David Wilkins has been echoed by many scholars, including the authors of the Cambridge English Course. In their introduction to the course book, Swan and Walter (1984 as cited in Thornbury, 2002) reaffirms that “vocabulary acquisition is the largest and most important task facing the language learner.” Moreover, the importance of vocabulary in reading and academic achievement has been supported by various researches (Chall, 1958; Klare, 1974-1975 and Saville-Troike, 1984 as cited in Nation, 1990). Besides the importance of vocabulary, there is also consensus among researchers, teachers and learners of English that learning English vocabulary is by no means an easy task. According to Allen (1983), “in many ESL classes, even where teachers have devoted much time to vocabulary teaching, the results have been disappointing. Sometimes – after months or even years of English – many of the words most needed have never been learned.” This failure can be attributed to many reasons, one of which is possibly the inappropriate approach. The amount of time devoted to teaching vocabulary, though great, may be not effective because “vocabulary 1
    • cannot be taught” (Wilga Rivers as cited in Thornbury, 2002). To be less extreme, Nation (1983) points out that only the most frequent 2000 words of English deserve individual attention and beyond that level, teaching should be directed to strategies for learning. This view is strongly supported by McCarthy (1990) who maintains that training vocabulary learning strategies is a particularly productive area and that it encourages learner autonomy. At the University of Languages and International Studies, vocabulary learning and teaching, however, have yet to receive adequate attention. Vocabulary is often integrated into other communicative skills and the task of vocabulary acquisition is totally left to students. Also, the research interest among the university staff and students has seemingly moved away from this field. At English Department library where research papers in English are deposited, no lecturer’s research on vocabulary can be found. Besides, while up to 9 graduation papers in 1998 dealt with vocabulary, the figure dropped to 4 in 1999 and only 1 in 2002 and 2003. From 2004 until now, there has been no graduation paper on teaching and learning vocabulary. Aware of this large gap as well as the importance of vocabulary and the problems of vocabulary learning and teaching, the researcher has decided to conduct a study on the Vocabulary Level and Vocabulary Learning strategies of ULIS first-year mainstream English majors. The first component of the research – Vocabulary Level is inspired by Nation’s notion (1983) that English vocabulary can be divided into different frequency levels, each of which requires distinct approaches in learning and teaching. Hence, knowledge of learners’ vocabulary levels is essential for the adoption of proper teaching and learning techniques. 2
    • Meanwhile, the second part is to find out how the target population is currently studying vocabulary. Such an understanding combined with the knowledge of their actual vocabulary levels will provide the solid foundations for the researcher’s suggestions on how to enhance their vocabulary knowledge and their autonomy in vocabulary learning. Besides offering an insightful understanding of the current vocabulary learning situation among the first-year ULIS mainstream English majors and some suggestions towards vocabulary improvement, it is the researcher’s ambition that this paper will be the groundwork for a component on vocabulary learning strategies in Study Skills for both the paper and the course share the goal of promoting learner autonomy among ULIS first-year students of English Department. 1.2. Aims and objectives of the study Initially, the study aims at identifying the vocabulary level of first year ULIS mainstream English majors or to be more specific what vocabulary frequency levels they have mastered based on the Vocabulary Levels Test by Paul Nation. Then, strategies used by the target subjects will be detected by means of face-to-face interviews with meticulously selected participants. Not merely listing out the strategies, the research also delves into the problems with the target students’ use of those strategies. All the data collected from the survey into the first-year ULIS mainstream English majors’ vocabulary level and use of strategies will be based on by the researcher to offer some recommendations to enhance their vocabulary learning practice and outcome. In short, the aims and objectives of the study are to answer the three following research questions: 3
    • 1. What is the vocabulary level of first-year ULIS mainstream English majors? 2. What are the strategies adopted by the first-year ULIS mainstream English majors in their vocabulary learning? 3. What are the problems with the first-year ULIS mainstream English majors’ use of vocabulary learning strategies? 1.3. Significance of the study As one of the trail-blazing studies on the vocabulary levels and vocabulary learning strategies of first-year ULIS mainstream English majors, the study would be of great benefit for the target population, their teachers, policy makers and other researchers interested in the topic. To begin with, the research findings would help first-year ULIS mainstream English majors improve their vocabulary learning practice, develop autonomy in vocabulary learning and ultimately expand their lexical knowledge. Especially, the recommendations are expected to offer suggestions not only for short-term but also for life-long vocabulary studying since “vocabulary learning never stops, even long after the grammar system is firmly in place” (Thornbury, 2002, p.160). As for the lecturers of Division 1, they could base themselves on the results of the paper to make informed decisions on how best to facilitate their students’ lexicon extension. Regarding policy makers, the paper would reveal to them some problems in the vocabulary learning practice of first-year ULIS mainstream English majors as well as proposing necessary changes in the curriculum for betterment of the learning and teaching quality. 4
    • Last but not least, regarding the researchers who share an interest in the topic, this study could serve as a reliable source of related literature and a basis for them to start their future works from. 1.4. Scope of the study First of all, the identification of “vocabulary level” as stated in the research title is, in fact, estimating the target subjects’ mastery of three receptive vocabulary frequency levels, namely 2000-word, 3000-word and 5000-word levels. The estimates will be based on the Vocabulary Levels Test by Paul Nation (1983) for the reasons elaborated on in the Methodology Chapter. Hence, such issues as productive vocabulary level and vocabulary depth or quality will not be touched upon in this paper. Regarding VLS, the researcher’s goal is only to investigate the strategies implemented by the target population and the problems in their implementation of those. Thus, other matters like the connection between VLS and test results, differences between good and bad vocabulary learners are not within the scope of this study. Finally, it should be noticed that only a limited number of members of the population were involved in taking the test (5 classes out of 18) and the interviews (10 interviewees out of over 469 first-year ULIS mainstream English majors). Nonetheless, the participants were meticulously chosen through a strict sampling procedure to ensure their representativeness of the whole population. 1.5. An overview of the rest of the paper The rest of the paper is comprised of the five following chapters: Chapter 2 (Literature Review) introduces the theoretical foundations for the whole paper. Besides providing the definitions of key terms such as 5
    • vocabulary level and vocabulary learning strategies, it offers a critical review of studies related to the research problem. Chapter 3 (Methodology) elaborates on the participants, the instruments, the three-phase procedure of collecting data and the procedure of processing data from the test papers and interviews. Chapter 4 (Results and Discussion) presents and analyses all the collected data to help find out the answers to the three research questions. Chapter 5 (Recommendations) presents the author’s suggestions on the vocabulary learning of and teaching to first-year ULIS mainstream English majors based on the research findings and the related literature Chapter 6 (Conclusion) summarizes all the major points raised in the paper, the limitations of the study and some suggestions for further researches. Summary By stressing the importance of vocabulary, knowledge of vocabulary levels and vocabulary learning strategies as well as disclosing the research gap, the chapter has provided the rationale for the study. Besides, the framework of the paper has been set in place with the three research questions and the clearly defined scope. 6
    • CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW This chapter, as its name suggests, provides an overview of the literature related to this study, laying the solid foundations for the subsequent development of the paper. Not only are key terms like vocabulary level, vocabulary learning strategies and first-year ULIS mainstream English majors defined but critical background information about the key terms is also presented to ensure a thorough understanding of the research matters. Besides, this review will reveal the research gap, thus rationalizing the need to carry out the study. 2.1. Vocabulary level 2.1.1. Vocabulary and word As the current paper tackles vocabulary acquisition, it is first necessary to arrive at a working definition of vocabulary. Etymologically, vocabulary originates in the Middle French word vocabulaire, which in turn can be traced back to the Latin word vocabulum (word or name). According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary Sixth Edition (2000), vocabulary is (1) “all the words a person knows or uses” and (2) “all the words in a particular language”. Since the paper focuses on the target students’ vocabulary level and VLS, vocabulary, if not clarified, should be understood in the first sense (all the words a person knows or uses). Another point to note from the etymology and the dictionary definitions of vocabulary is the recurrence of words. Regarding this connection, McCarthy (1995) asserts that “when we speak of the vocabulary of a language, we are speaking primarily, but not exclusively, of the words of that language”. 7
    • Hence, apart from the above discussion of vocabulary, it is also essential to elaborate on word. In Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (Flexner, 2003), word is “a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principle carrier of meaning”. However, identifying the “word” status is not always straightforward in reality. For example, should look, looks, looked be considered three words or just three different forms of the same word? Also, English is abundant in phrases like odds and ends, bits and pieces, bits and pieces, each often learnt and understood as one WORD. From the researcher’s perspective, word in language teaching and learning should be treated primarily as a carrier of meaning. To put it in a different way, look, looks and looked should be considered three forms of a word in use. The base form (look) alone is far from enough for learners when they need to express the same meaning conveyed by “look” but in different contexts. 2.1.2. Receptive and productive vocabulary In Richards and Schmidt (2002), receptive vocabulary is defined as “the total number of words a person understands, either in reading or listening” and productive vocabulary as “the total number of words a person produces in his speech or writing”. These two terms are synonymous with recognition/ passive vocabulary and active vocabulary respectively. Pearson, Hiebert and Kamil (2007) assert that receptive vocabulary is generally larger than productive vocabulary, following the psycholinguistic principle that comprehension normally precedes production. Richards and Schmidt (2002) share the same view and adds a specific example: An educated English native speaker may have a passive vocabulary of up to 8
    • 100,000 words, but an active vocabulary of between 10,000 and 20,000 words (Richards and Schmidt, 2002, p.9). 2.1.3. Vocabulary level assessment Vocabulary level Vocabulary level is a term commonly used by Nation based on the conception that English vocabulary can be divided into different levels based on their frequency of appearance in texts, spoken and written. In his article with Batia Laufer (1999), two “compelling reasons” are given to justify this view of English vocabulary. The first is the striking differences between the occurrence frequencies of different words. For instance, the alone accounts for 7% of the running words in written texts. The most frequent ten words constitute about 25% of the running words in spoken and written use. The most frequent 1000 words make up around 75% of the running words in formal written texts and around 84% of informal spoken use. By sharp contrast, the second most frequent 1000 words cover only 7.7 of written texts and even less for spoken ones. Second, English vocabulary is huge with approximately half a million entries in the Oxford English Dictionary. Hence, it would be more cost- effective in terms of time and effort to focus on a well-selected group of vocabulary. In Laufer and Nation’s view, “in courses not focused on well- defined areas of use, only the words in the most frequent 2000 words of English (the high-frequency words) deserve individual attention”. Beyond that level, students should be trained to expand their own vocabulary rather than be taught directly because the time spent on teaching low-frequency words is not rationalized by the limited opportunities to use the words. In other words, different levels of vocabulary should be acquired in different 9
    • ways with high frequency ones via direct teaching and low frequency ones via self-study assisted by VLS training. In short, the above findings on vocabulary level suggest that it is highly cost-effective to administer a diagnostic test on vocabulary level at the beginning of a course. Based on the test results, teachers and students will be able to make informed decisions about how vocabulary learning and teaching should be carried out during the course. Aware of this issue, quite a few researchers have worked on standard vocabulary level tests, the three most prominent of which are the Vocabulary Levels Test by Nation (1983), its productive versions by Nation and Laufer (1999), and Eurocentres Vocabulary Size Test by Paul Meara and his colleagues(1987, 1988 as cited in Meara, 1990). Vocabulary Levels Test As the forerunner of its type, Vocabulary Levels Test has been widely used in New Zealand and many English-speaking countries as diagnostic vocabulary testing of migrant and international students. The test consists of five parts, representing five levels of vocabulary: 2000-word and 3000-word levels for high-frequency words, 5,000-word level for high and low words, 10,000- word level for low-frequency words and University Word List as a type of specialized vocabulary. Part of the test is as follows: 1. original 2. private ______complete 3. royal ______ first 4. slow ______ not public 5. sorry 6. total (Adapted from Nation, 1983) A level is comprised of three sub-sections as above, each containing 6 words and 3 definitions. Students are required to match three appropriate 10
    • words on the left with the definitions on the right. If one scores 12 or less out of 18 for each level, help should be provided for learning vocabulary at that level (Nation, 1983). The test is also accompanied by a table that provides guidelines on teaching and learning approaches for each level of vocabulary. Many strong points can be seen in the test. First, it is easy to make and easy to mark (Nation, 1983). The whole test takes no more then 50 minutes to administer and approximately 2 minutes to mark each paper. Another advantage of the test is to assess a large number of words in a short time. Although only 18 words are matched at each level, 36 words are actually tested because the distractors are all words, not meanings. However, Nation (1983) does admit that “partial knowledge of the words was sufficient to allow correct guessing”. Hence, the test is not suitable for learners whose first languages contain many lexical items of similar forms to English ones. Furthermore, as only partial knowledge is tested, it is impossible to conclude that if a person scores high on one level, he/she can use vocabulary from that level effectively in communication. Conscious of the above limitations, Nation and his colleague Laufer have constructed another vocabulary level test, namely the Controlled Productive Ability Test. Controlled Productive Ability Test Similar to the Vocabulary Levels Test, the Controlled Productive Ability Test consists of 5 sections corresponding to 5 levels: 1000 words, 2000 words, 5000 words, 10000 words and University Word List. Each level is made up of 18 items. In each item, there is one sentence and one unfinished word as follows: I’m glad we had this opp__________ to talk. 11
    • Students are required to complete the word based on the sentential context. The first letters of each word are provided to prevent test-takers from filling in another word that is semantically appropriate but from a different level. In Laufer and Nation (1999), the test has been administered to verify its reliability, validity and practicality. Through a survey with four groups of students of different levels of proficiency and various calculations of its results, the test is concluded as “a valid measure of vocabulary growth”. Besides, the test proves easy to administer and mark, economical to duplicate and easy to interpret. Nevertheless, the test is limited to measuring the ability of a test taker in controlled productive context only, not free productive context. Hence, the authors suggest that if a student scores high on the test and does not employ the full richness of his vocabulary in writing and speaking, measures should be taken to encourage him/her. Eurocentres Vocabulary Size Test Another renowned instrument for measuring vocabulary level is Eurocentres Vocabulary Size Test (EVST) constructed by Meara and his colleagues (Meara and Buxton, 1987; Meara and Jones, 1988). The test was originally developed under the commission of Eurocentres, a system of language schools in Europe which run intensive four-week courses. Consequently, an instrument for quick and accurate placement of students was required to replace the traditional and time-consuming Joint Entrance Test (JET). The test is computer-based and also divided into a number of blocks, each containing a sample of items from a level of vocabulary similar to Nation’s Vocabulary Levels Test. Here is the instance of one block: 12
    • Block a Adviser Dostage Discard Morlorn Mertion Boyralty Moisten Implore Vibrate Weekend Stourge Bariner Storage Gleanse Contord Sarsage Indoors Profess Ghastly Refusal Disdain (Meara, 1990) Pitiful Partine The sample, in fact, includes two types of items: two thirds are genuine words and one third is non-existent. Each time one word appears on the screen, a test-taker presses a button to indicate whether he/she knows the word or not. The proportion of real words he thinks he knows is called the HIT RATE (HR) and the proportion of non-existent words he thinks he knows is referred to as the FALSE ALARM RATE (FAR). The computer calculates the true Hit Rate by adjusting the Hit Rate in consideration of the False Alarm Rate. For instance, if Candidate A scores 60% for Hit Rate and 0% for False Alarm Rate, the Hit Rate will be 60%. If Candidate A scores 70% for Hit Rate and 10% for FAR, he may overstate his vocabulary knowledge so his HR will be adjusted downwards. According to Meara (1990), the mechanism for this scoring system is actually based on Signal Detection Theory models by Zimmerman, Broder, Shaughnessy and Underwood (1997 as cited in Meara, 1990). In his article, Meara (1990) lists out many strong points of EVST. First, it requires “no complex development of items”, is easy to score and 13
    • produce parallel versions, can test many candidates in a short time with no apparent wash back effects. What is more, the test is completely automated from the administration to scoring and placement of students. Hence, the staff has been saved a considerable amount of time and effort. Nonetheless, the EVST faces a number of criticisms from applied linguists (Meara, 1990). To begin with, the test assesses only a superficial level of word knowledge, more specifically the visual recognition of words. Second, the extent to which the scores are affected by the nature of non- words is still unknown and seems to vary from one mother-tongue group to another. Finally, the overall score alone is a very misleading piece of data because not all learners of English fit the expected pattern: the less frequent the level is, the fewer words from that level a person knows. To support this point, the example of a French student is cited: he encounters great difficulty with simple words but scores high on the block with less frequent words due to his previous traditional literary-based courses in English. As far as the researcher is concerned, the EVST represents an interesting attempt to integrate technology into English learning and teaching. Regarding its weaknesses (superficial assessment, unreliable interpretation of HR-FAR ration and misleading pattern), these can be partly overcome if a short interview is also administered. This interview can be considered an investigation into the quality of vocabulary to complement the inquiry into the lexical breadth via the EVST. 2.2. Vocabulary learning 2.2.1. Aspects of knowing a word In vocabulary learning, the first question commonly asked is “what is a word?” The answer to this can be found in 2.1.1. Besides, another heavily discussed question is “what does it mean to know a word?” The most 14
    • popular approach to address this matter is to enumerate all the aspects of a word a learner should know. Richard (1976 as cited in Read, 2000, p.25) produced the following list: • Knowing a word means knowing the degree of probability of encountering that word in speech or print. For many words we also know the sort of words most likely to be found associated with the word. • Knowing a word implies knowing the limitations on the use of the word according to variations of function and situation. • Knowing a word means knowing the syntactic behavior associated with the word. • Knowing a word entails the knowledge of the underlying form of a word and the derivations that can be made from it. • Knowing a word entails knowledge of the network of associations between that word and other words in the language. • Knowing a word means knowing the semantic value of a word. • Knowing a word means knowing many of the different meanings associated with a word. (Richard, 1976 as cited in Read, 2000) This set of assumptions has been cited by many authors as the framework of vocabulary knowledge. Though it is not comprehensive (only 7 aspects mentioned), it pioneers in highlighting the complex nature of vocabulary learning. Richards’ approach has been taken further by Nation (1990, p.31), a leading vocabulary expert. He proposes an analytical table, adding other components and the distinction between receptive and productive knowledge. (For definitions of receptive and productive vocabulary, please refer to 2.1.2.) For researchers who attempt to assess vocabulary quality, this detailed list poses an extremely burdensome task as observed by Meara (1996 as cited in Read, 2000). He found it possible to “construct measures of each of these types of knowledge of particular words in theory” but such measures could be conducted in practice with only a very small number of items. This 15
    • limitation, in turn, reduces considerably the reliability and validity of any research into vocabulary quality. Table 2.1. Knowing a word (Nation, 1990) (R=receptive, P=productive) Form Spoken form R What does the word sound like? P How is the word pronounced? Written form R What does the word look like? P How is the word written and spelled? Position Grammatical Patterns R In what patterns does the word occur? P In what patterns must we use the word? Collocations R What words or types of words can be expected before or after the word? P What words or types of words must be used with this word? Function Frequency R How common is the word? P How often should the word be used? Appropriateness R Where would we expect to meet the word? P Where can this word be used? Meaning Concept R What does the word mean? P What word should be used to express this meaning? Associations R What other words does this word make us think of? P What other words could we use instead of this one? 2.2.2. Incremental nature of vocabulary acquisition More importantly, the multiple dimensions of “knowing a word” as indicated in the above table suggest that knowledge of a lexical item is not “an all-or-nothing proposition” (Takac, 2008, p.10). In reality, when a learner claims to know a word, he/she is very likely to grasp only several aspects, possibly its written form, meaning and pronunciation. If later on this word keeps recurring in his/her learning process, he/she may gather more knowledge about its collocations, associations and appropriateness, etc. This process of accumulating word knowledge is, according to Takac (2008, 16
    • p.10) a feature of vocabulary learning. To be more exact, it is termed “the incremental nature of vocabulary acquisition”. In learning vocabulary, this incremental nature demands that efforts should be made to study lexical items over and over again after the first encounter so that these cannot only be recognized but also can be used appropriately. 2.2.3. Incidental and intentional vocabulary learning Intentional vocabulary learning (also known as deliberate/explicit/conscious vocabulary learning) and incidental vocabulary learning (also called vocabulary learning in context) are two contrasting approaches to vocabulary acquisition (Schmitt, 2000, p.120). The first one focuses directly on lexical items, thus giving the greatest chance for their acquisition. Nevertheless, it is “time-consuming and laborious” to develop an adequately sized lexicon for communication. In the second approach, vocabulary can be learnt when one is communicating in the language, which means a double benefit for the time spent. Nonetheless, it is much slower than intentional learning, which means one has to read extensively to come across a certain word. What is more, there are certain prerequisites to be met before one can learn vocabulary incidentally especially from reading authentic texts. The “vocabulary size threshold” for this purpose is between 3,000 to 5,000 word families in Nation and Waring (1997) or from 7,000 to 10,000 words in Fox (1987, p.309). Recently, due to the misinterpretation of the communicative approach, “learning vocabulary in context is often seen as opposed to intentional learning” (Nation, 2001, p.232). This viewpoint is quite inappropriate since intentional and incidental vocabulary learning are actually complementary activities. Each seems more suited for particular types or aspects of 17
    • vocabulary. For instance, Nation (1999) maintains that only the most frequent words should be deliberately learnt and taught while the less frequent ones should be reserved for students’ incidental learning. Schmitt (2000, p.122-3) adds that reliable intuition of collocation is derived from numerous exposures through incidental learning while meaning is “amenable to conscious learning”. Based on the stance of Nation (1999) and Schmitt (2000), it can be noticed that the role of students in vocabulary acquisition is monumental. They have to take responsibility for studying thousands of less infrequent words and many aspects of word knowledge that cannot be effectively taught (,say, intuition of collocation). This also means students are required to develop a high level of learner autonomy in vocabulary acquisition which will be discussed in the next part. 2.2.4. Learner autonomy in vocabulary acquisition What is learner autonomy? Since the advent of CLT, there has been a shift from a teacher- directed class to a learner-directed one based on a principle called “learner autonomy”. In Richards and Schmidt (2002, p.297), this term is defined as “the principle that learners should be encouraged to assume a maximum amount of responsibility for what they learn and how they learn it.” Nevertheless, how much responsibility and independence an autonomous learner should take is a source of dispute among scholars. Nunan (1997, p.193 as cited in Palfreyman, n.d.) states that “the fully autonomous learner operates independently of classroom, teacher or textbook”. In contrast, Palfreyman (n.d.) asserts “learner autonomy does not mean avoiding any reliance on sources of help around you” but “means 18
    • being aware of these sources and what they have to offer in different situations”. For example, if students rely on their teachers for explanation of new words, it is teacher dependence. However, if a student asks his/her teacher to validate his/her own distinction of several synonyms after he/she already looks up the dictionary and other sources of reference, it is a sign of learner autonomy. In this case, the student has drawn his/her teacher into his/her “own learning agenda, effectively using the teacher as a source of help”. In short, learner autonomy can be considered a principle aimed at boosting learners’ responsibility for and independence in their own learning. As a principle, it can be interpreted into a variety of practices such as ‘study skills’ program for international students at the U.K universities or “strategy training’ in North America (Palfrey, n.d.). Diverse as they may be, they all share the ultimate purpose of improving learners’ academic self-reliance. Why is learner autonomy required in language learning? As an old saying goes, you can bring a horse to water but you cannot make him drink. This proverb highlights the importance of learners during the language learning process. Learning will not occur even if the teacher has provided all the necessary circumstances but the learner is unwilling to participate in the process. In Scharle and Szabo’s words (2000, p.4), “success in learning very much depends on learners having a responsible attitude” – a building block of learner autonomy. Moreover, language learning is lifelong learning: formal lessons alone will not enable them to communicate effectively in complex life and work situations. Hence, there is a need for learners to study on their own and the best way to prepare them for that is to “help them become more autonomous” (Scharle and Szabo, 2000, p.4). 19
    • What are the contributing factors to learner autonomy? To help learners develop their autonomy, it is essential to find out the building blocks of learner autonomy. According to Scharle and Szabo (2000, pp.7-9), there are seven factors contributing to learner autonomy, namely motivation and self-confidence, monitoring and evaluation, learning strategies, cooperation and group cohesion, (teacher’s) sharing information with the learner, (teacher’s) consistent control, and involving learner in delegating tasks and decisions. Besides these factors, the authors also offer a three-stage process to boost learner autonomy, starting with “raising awareness” to “raising attitudes” and concluding with “transferring roles”. Among these, it is noted that the last stage is the most demanding with class management changing hands from the teacher to the learner. Likewise, Nation (2001) suggests three factors of autonomy: attitude, awareness and capability. Attitude is defined by Nation as the learner wanting “to take control and responsibility for learning”, thus resembling motivation in Scharle and Szabo (2000, p.7). Meanwhile, awareness in Nation’s terms is quite similar to monitoring and evaluation since both refer to metacognition. Finally, capability refers to “the need for the learner to possess the skills and knowledge to be autonomous” (Nation, 2001, p.395). So it can be perceived that the most critical difference between the two viewpoints lie in the absence of the teacher role in Nation (2001). Instead of positioning the teacher directly in the factors of autonomy, he suggests that it is the teacher’s role to boost students’ awareness, motivation and capability through training students in learning principles and strategies. 20
    • Learner autonomy and vocabulary learning Learner autonomy is currently a principle favored in practically all areas of English language teaching and learning and one of the areas that have the greatest potential for adopting learner autonomy is vocabulary (McCarthy,1990, p.129). In Atkinson (1972 as cited in McCarthy, 1990, p.130), learners controlling how they learn words score 50% better in retention tests than when studying random word lists set for them. Furthermore, it has been affirmed that the way vocabulary is acquired is unique to each person (Thornbury, 2002, p.144). Also, the class time for vocabulary is extremely limited compared with the immense number of vocabulary items that learners need to acquire. All these points demonstrate that studying vocabulary on their own is a must for all learners, the best preparation the teacher can provide is to “help them become more autonomous” (Scharle and Szabo, 2000, p.4). To achieve this goal, Nation (2001, p. 395-403) puts forward eight principles based on his three factors of autonomy as depicted above. Still, he advises learners to reflect on and modify the principles based on their personal experience. This suggestion is quite rational because learners aiming at autonomy should never copy slavishly, even principles for learner autonomy. 2.3. Vocabulary learning strategies 2.3.1. Language learning strategies Recent time has seen an increasing interest in the field of language learning strategies but still, there is no consensus over the definition of the term “language learning strategies”. As pioneers of the field, Wenden and Rubin (1987 as cited in Griffiths, 2004) discuss “the elusive nature of the term” while Ellis (1994 as cited in Griffiths, 2004) describes the concept as 21
    • “fuzzy”. In her earlier work, Rubin (1975 as cited in Griffiths, 2004) defined the term as “the techniques or devices which a learner may use to acquire knowledge”. Later, Wendent (1987 as cited in Segler, 2001) remarks that language learning strategies have to take into consideration different aspects of the language learning process. In this flow, she points out the three areas referred to by language learning strategies: (a) the actual behavior of learners (b) strategic knowledge (c) knowledge about aspects. In Rubin’s words (1987 as cited in Segler, 2001), these areas include “what learners do to learn and do to regulate their learning”. According to Griffiths (2004), language learning strategies can be applied to a wide range of learning tasks from discrete ones such as vocabulary and pronunciation to oral communication and reading comprehension. Interestingly enough, it has been ascertained that most strategy use is for vocabulary (together with pronunciation) but not grammar. This does explain the vast literature related to vocabulary learning strategies available. 2.3.2. Taxonomy of vocabulary learning strategies There are quite a few strategies adopted by second and foreign language learners to acquire the target language vocabulary. To help students navigate through this maze of strategies, second and foreign language researchers have made various attempts to classify vocabulary learning strategies employed by foreign and second language learners. Following are the three most prominent taxonomies by Nation (2001), Gu and Johnson (1996 as cited in Gazhal, 2007), and Schmitt (1997). Nation’s Taxonomy In Learning vocabulary in another language, Nation (2001) 22
    • introduces another taxonomy of 11 vocabulary learning strategies. These are grouped into planning, sources and processes. Planning strategies involve deciding on what words and aspects of words to focus on, what strategies to use and how often to give attention to certain words. Meanwhile, sources strategies concern ways to find out information about words. This information may embrace all aspects of word knowledge (see 2.2.1) and can be found in the word itself (word part analysis), the context (guessing from context), sources of reference (dictionaries) or L1 (via analogy). The final set of strategies (processes) includes ways to remember words and make them available for use. The particular strategies in this set are divided into three sub-categories related to three conditions of vocabulary learning, namely noticing, retrieving and generating. The whole taxonomy is illustrated in Table 2.3. GENERAL CLASS OF STRATEGIES TYPES OF STRATEGIES Planning: choosing what to focus on and * Choosing words when to focus on it * Choosing the aspects of word knowledge * Choosing the strategies * Planning repetition Sources: finding information about words * Analyze the word * Using context * Consulting a reference source in L1 or L2 * Using parallels in L1 and L2 Processes: establishing knowledge * Noticing * Retrieving * Generating Table 2.2. Nation’s Taxonomy of VLS The strongest point of Nation’s taxonomy is probably its simplicity: only classes and types of strategies are mentioned and plain terms are used. This is in sharp contrast with Schmitt’s taxonomy in which up to 58 strategies are named and with Gu and Johnson’s taxonomy in which psychological terms such as metacognitve, cognitive, activation, self- 23
    • initiation, etc are widely used. However, the other two have their own advantages over Nation’s categorization which can be seen in the subsequent parts. Gu and Johnson’s Taxonomy Gu and Johnson (1996 as cited in Ghazal, 2007) divide second language (L2) vocabulary learning strategies into metacognitive, cognitive, memory and activation strategies. Metacognitive strategies are composed of selective attention (what words are important to learn and are essential for adequate comprehension of a passage) and self-initiation strategies (a variety of means to clarify the meaning of vocabulary items). Cognitive strategies in Gu and Johnson’s taxonomy include guessing strategies, skillful use of dictionaries and note-taking strategies. Learners using guessing strategies draw upon their background knowledge and use linguistic clues like grammatical structures of a sentence to guess the meaning of a word. Memory strategies are comprised of rehearsal and encoding categories. Word lists and repetition are examples of rehearsal strategies. Encoding strategies entail such strategies as association; imagery; visual, auditory, semantic, and contextual encoding as well as word-structure (i.e., analyzing a word in terms of prefixes, stems, and suffixes). Activation strategies involve the strategies through which the learners actually utilize new words in different contexts such as setting example sentences. 24
    • All these strategies can be found in Table 2.2. CATEGORY SUB-CATEGORY Meta-cognitive * Selective attention: identifying essential words for comprehension * Self-initiation: using a variety of means to clarify the meaning of words Cognitive * Guessing: activating background knowledge, using linguistic items * Use of dictionaries * Note-taking Memory * Rehearsal: word lists, repetition, etc. * Encoding: association, imagery, etc. Activation * Using new words in different context: setting examples Table 2.3. Gu and Johnson’s Taxonomy of VLS (Adapted from Gazhal, 2007) Though more complicated in terminology than Nation’s (2001), Gu and Johnson’s categories can reflect the level of mental processing a strategy user puts in learning a word. According to the depth (levels) of processing hypothesis, “the more one manipulates, thinks about, and uses mental information, the more likely it is that one will retain that information” (Schmitt, 2000, p.121). For example, if one follows rehearsal strategies, he/she is more likely to forget words than one who implements activation strategies. This is to say that this taxonomy seems more useful than Nation’s in evaluating learners’ use of strategies. It is still not as comprehensive as Schmitt’s taxonomy. Schmitt’s Taxonomy It should be noted that Gu and Johnson (1996 as cited in Ghazal, 2007) and Nation (2001) are quite successful in providing a taxonomy of VLS but only on the category level. Meanwhile, Schmitt (1997) have succeeded in composing a comprehensive taxonomy of 58 “individual strategies”. His list was drawn up from a number of sources, including 25
    • reference books, students and teachers. Though it surely cannot embrace all existing VLS, it is by far the most exhaustive of its type. In this taxonomy, the strategies are organized in two ways. First, they are divided into 2 major classes: (1) strategies for the discovery of a new word’s meaning and (2) strategies for consolidating a word once it has been encountered. Second, the strategies are further separated into 5 sub- categories, including Determination strategies (DET), Social strategies (SOC), Memory strategies (MEM), Cognitive strategies (COG), Metacognitive strategies (MET). Determination strategies refer to the strategies an individual can use to find out the meaning of one word without another person’s help. The reverse of this sub-category is Social strategies (asking for help from other people such as teachers or classmates). Memory strategies involve relating words to previously learnt knowledge through imagery or grouping. They bear a great resemblance to cognitive strategies but there is a significant between them. While memory strategies focus on “elaborative mental processing” that enables long-term retention (Schmitt, 2000, p.135), cognitive strategies mainly feature “mechanical means” to study vocabulary. This distinction between memory and cognitive strategies is in sharp contrast to that of Gu and Johnson (1996 as cited in Ghazal, 2007). In Gu and Johnson’s, rehearsal (repetition) strategies and guessing belong to memory category and cognitive category whereas the reverse is true for Schmitt’s. Finally, metacognitive strategies are defined as strategies used by 26
    • learners to control and evaluate their own learning. Testing oneself is an instance of metacognitive strategies which provides “input to the effectiveness of one’s choice of learning strategies, providing positive reinforcement if progress is being made or a signal to switch strategies if it is not” (Schmitt, 1997). For its comprehensive treatment of individual VLS, Schmitt’s taxonomy is an effective research instrument for investigations into VLS followed by a particular group of learners. This remark has been confirmed in reality by Schmitt’s research on Japanese learners of English (1993). It is due to the taxonomy’s proven research value that it has been chosen as the basis for data analysis procedure of the study on first-year ULIS mainstream English majors’ vocabulary learning strategies. Table 2.4. presents 58 strategies in Schmitt’s Taxonomy (1997). STRATEGY GROUP STRATEGY Strategies for the Discovery of a New Word’s Meaning DET Analyse part of speech DET Analyse suffixes and roots DET Check for L1 cognate DET Analyze any available pictures or gestures DET Guess from textual context DET Bilingual dictionary DET Monolingual dictionary DET Word lists DET Flash cards SOC Ask teacher for an L1 translation SOC Ask teacher for paraphrase or synonym of new word SOC Ask teacher for a sentence including the new word SOC Ask classmates for meaning SOC Discover new meaning through group work activity Strategies for Consolidating a Word Once It has been Encountered SOC Study and practice meaning in a group SOC Teacher checks students’ flash cards or word lists for accuracy 27
    • SOC Interact with native speakers MEM Study word with a pictorial representation of its meaning MEM Image word’s meaning MEM Connect word to a personal experience MEM Associate the word with its coordinates MEM Connect the word to its synonyms and antonyms MEM Use Semantic maps MEM Use ‘scales’ for gradable adjectives MEM Peg Method MEM Loci Method MEM Group words together to study them MEM Group words together spatially on a page MEM Use new word in sentences MEM Group words together within a storyline MEM Study the spelling of a word MEM Study the pronunciation of a word MEM Say new word aloud when studying MEM Image word form MEM Underline initial letter of the word MEM Configuration MEM Use Keyword Method MEM Affixes and Roots MEM Parts of speech MEM Paraphrase the word’s meaning MEM Use cognates in study MEM Learn the words of an idiom together MEM Use physical action when learning a word MEM Use semantic feature grids COG Verbal repetition COG Written repetition COG Word lists COG Flash cards COG Take notes in class COG Use the vocabulary section in your textbook COG Listen to tape of word lists COG Put English labels on physical objects COG Keep a vocabulary notebook MET Use English-language media MET /Testing oneself with word tests MET Use spaced word practice MET Skip or pass new word MET Continue to study word over time Table 2.4. Schmitt’s Taxonomy of VLS 28
    • 2.3.3. Researches on vocabulary learning strategies Benefits of vocabulary learning strategies First and foremost, researches on vocabulary learning strategies have asserted the benefits of teaching, learning and using strategies in vocabulary acquisition. Oxford (1986 as cited in Griffiths, 2004) points out that language learning strategies, vocabulary learning strategies included, help to “improve language performance, encourage language autonomy”. The role of learning strategies is emphasized by Nation (1990) when it comes to the acquisition of low-frequency words. He argues that low- frequency words will not generally be encountered often enough to deserve individual explicit teaching. Instead, it is more cost effective in both time and effort for teachers to guide their students with the use of such learning strategies as guessing from context, using mnemonic techniques, and using word parts (Nation, 1990, chapter 9). Effective vocabulary learning strategies Another issue that attracts a lot of research attention is to identify the effective vocabulary learning strategies. However, Politzer and McGroarty (1995 as cited in Schmitt, 1997) warn that no strategy should be considered inherently good or bad but is dependent on the context in which they are used. The context here is comprised of many variables, including proficiency level, task, text, language modality, background knowledge, context of learning, target language, learner characteristics and culture, among which Schmitt (1997) highlights culture and language proficiency. Regarding the cultural element, O’Malley and Chamot (in Schmitt, 1997) conducted an experiment in which Hispanic and Asian learners were separated into strategy trained and control (non-trained) groups. After the training completed, the Hispanic strategy trainees made a significant 29
    • improvement in their vocabulary scores in comparison with their untrained Hispanic counterparts. Meanwhile, the reverse was true for the two Asian groups of students. Even more important is the role of language proficiency. Nation (1982 as cited in Nation and Waring, 1997) proves that using word lists and word cards is, contrary to popular belief, highly effective especially taking time contrainsts into consideration. It is particularly suited for learners aiming at the threshold vocabulary of about 2,000 - 3,000 word families or in other words, beginning learners. Cohen and Aphek (1981 as cited in Schmitt, 1997) do come up with a similar finding: word lists are better for beginning students but more advanced students benefit more from contextualised learning. Even though strategy effectiveness is contingent on external factors, remarkable attempts have been made to “assign the vocabulary strategies to at least broad characterizations of greater or lesser utility” (Schmitt, 1993). For this purpose, Craik’s Levels of Processing Model (1972, 1975 as cited in Schmitt, 1993) has been employed, indicating that the quality of learning is in direct proportion with “the mental manipulation of the new information.” In simple terms, if superficially processed even over a considerable period of time, new information will be easily forgotten. On the contrary, deeper processing (analysis, synthesis, association with known information, etc) will result in better retention. “Good” vs. “Bad” vocabulary learners More empirically, some researches are based on comparing vocabulary learning strategies adopted by “good” and “bad” learners. Nation (2002) conducts a case study on 10 adult learners taking an intensive ESL course in New Zealand. Each participant is first tested on their 30
    • retention of vocabulary learnt from the program and then interviewed on the strategies they use in learning. These strategies are divided by Nation into selection of words, aspects of word knowledge, learning and memorizing words, revision of words, self-evaluation and monitoring. 9 out of 10 subjects get low scores in the test despite their hard work during the ESL course. By comparing the strategies these 9 low achievers adopt with those utilized by the high achiever, Nation has drawn some conclusions. As for the selection of words and aspects of word knowledge, the effective learner emphasizes the importance of depth of knowledge and chooses to study words that he finds useful and interesting rather than words that the teacher expects him to learn. Regarding learning and memorizing, the high achieving student uses a wide range of strategies: rereading, flash cards and especially using new words whenever possible. He also keeps the habit of regularly reviewing vocabulary notebook, reinforcing his understanding of words already learnt and his ability to use them. Concerning self-evaluation and monitoring, the effective learner is able to reflect on as well as questioning his own learning behavior to make appropriate adjustments. Similar to Nation’s research, Liu (2006) surveys 111 subjects – Chinese students at Inner Mongolia University of Science and Technology. In terms of vocabulary learning strategy beliefs, the study reveals that more successful learners (MSL) have less faith in rote vocabulary memorization than less successful learners (LSL). Besides, MSL strongly believe that EFL vocabulary should be studied carefully as well as put to use as much as possible. A more significant difference is seen between MSL and LSL in the actual employment of vocabulary learning strategies. MSL adopt more “activation strategies, structural memorization strategies, contextual 31
    • guessing strategies and deliberate learning strategies.” These learners also enrich their English vocabulary with extracurricular materials. In other words, they have developed consciousness, interest and activeness in vocabulary learning. 2.4. First-year ULIS mainstream English majors The target population of the current research is 469 HULIS first-year mainstream English majors, divided into 18 classes with 16 classes specialized in TESOL and 2 classes in English translation and interpretation. According to their course outline (Division 1, 2008), these students should have achieved the level of proficiency equivalent to ALTE level 2 (A2) of the Council of Common Europe by the end of their first year at university. More specifically, students are assumedly “able to cope linguistically in a range of everyday situations which require a largely predictable use of language” (ALTE, n.d.). It can be inferred from this description that students should possess a fair level of vocabulary for daily communication. In terms of time spent on learning English, the target students have six credit hours in class that they are required to attend. Besides the compulsory amount of class time, students are required to spend time completing their assignments, among which the most influential to vocabulary development is probably the reading portfolio. This portfolio is a collection of “inspring reading passages” with the goal of improving students’ reading skills and enriching their vocabulary (Division 1, 2008). In addition to their own reading, each student is also provided with “a sheet of noteworthy vocabulary items found in the assigned theme” prepared and distributed by their peers on a weekly basis. This is to say that members of the target 32
    • population have considerable exposure to English vocabulary – a good condition for learning to take place. Finally, little is known about the target students’ use of vocabulary learning strategies. Except for guessing words in context, no other vocabulary learning strategy is indicated in the course outline. 2.5. Literature gaps Undoubtedly, the reviewed literature has made immense contribution to the teaching and learning of vocabulary in the world. However, in Vietnam, vocabulary learning is still a rather unexplored research area. Hard as the research may have tried, he has not been able to retrieve any significant domestic research on vocabulary, particularly independent vocabulary acquisition through strategy use. At the ULIS English Department, vocabulary is regarded one of the top goals for first-year students to aim at as indicated in the Course Outline (Division 1, 2008). Nevertheless, there has been no research conducted to find out these students’ level of vocabulary and determine the appropriate teaching methodology. Similarly, little has been attempted to discover how the target students study vocabulary on their own so that effective assistance can be offered in their monumental task of acquiring a large vocabulary of both general and specialized items beyond the high-frequency threshold. To address this major gap, the researcher has carried out a study on first-year ULIS mainstream English majors, the methodology of which will be elaborated in the coming chapter. 33
    • Summary The chapter has provided the theoretical background for the whole paper through providing definitions of key terms and significant background information on vocabulary, vocabulary learning and vocabulary learning strategies. Particularly important is the review of the Vocabulary Levels Test, and Schmitt’s Taxonomy of VLS which will be utilized in the subsequent chapters. Finally, the chapter discloses the gap that the researcher is attempting to bridge via this study. 34
    • CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY The following chapter depicts in detail the methodology of this research paper. It includes the size and characteristics of the sample, justification for and description of the two data collection instruments. Furthermore, an elaborate report on the procedures of data collection data analysis is also incorporated. 3.1. Participants As mentioned in the previous chapter, the target population of this research paper is 469 HULIS first-year mainstream English majors from 18 classes (Khoa, 2008, private communication). 104 members of this group were selected to take the adapted Vocabulary Levels Test, based on the results of which 10 students were then invited to interviews on their vocabulary learning strategies. 3.1.1. Test takers Although the number of students selected account for only around 23% of the target population, they were meticulously chosen based on two principles to ensure the representativeness and the resultant validity of the research findings. The first principle underlying the sampling procedure was “stratified random sampling” which helps to “avoid distortions due to the chance under- or over-representation of particular ethnic groups in the final sample” (De Vau, 2002). In 18 mainstream classes for HULIS first-year English majors, there are 16 teacher-training classes with 433 students and 2 classes for 37 translation and interpretation majors. Thus, the ratio of teacher trainees to translator and interpreter ones is 433/37, approximately 12/1. Though there is no proven record of the differences in language proficiency 35
    • and language learning strategies between the two groups of students, the researcher has applied this sampling method to ensure the highest possible representativeness of the test results. Besides stratified random sampling, the principle of systematic random sampling was also employed in the selection of test takers to give “a good spread across the population” (De Vau, 2002). To ensure one translation and interpretation class was included in the sample as the observation of the stratified random sampling principle and an affordable size of participants, the researcher decided to choose E2 as the first in line and an interval of 3 between classes. In other words, the chosen groups of test takers included E2, E6, E10, E14 and E18. A total of 117 test papers were returned among which 101 were from teacher trainees and 16 were from translator and interpreter trainees. Then 96 and 8 students were chosen from the two groups respectively based on the calculated ration of 12 to 1 as detailed above. The selection of 104 participants also observed the principle of interval sampling and the formula I = N/n I: interval, N: the population size, n: the sample size. 3.1.2. Interviewees Among the test takers, the researcher invited 10 students based on their test scores to participate in face-to-face interviews. Admittedly, 10 was quite small a number in comparison with over 104 test takers (approximately 0.1%) and 469 members of the target population (0.02%), which was hardly avoidable due to the researcher’s inability to conduct more interviews within the limited time budget available for the data collection process. Nevertheless, to make the data provided by the interviewees as typical of the 36
    • population as possible, careful selection was made once again based on stratified random sampling. According to the test results (Chapter 4), 19.2 % of the test takers (Group W) did not master the 2,000-word level, 23.5% (Group X) mastered only the 2,000-word level, 52.5% (Group Y) mastered two first levels (2,000 and 3,000 words) but not the third level and 4.8% (Group Z) grasped all the three vocabulary level. Hence, out of 10 interviewees, there are 2 from Group W, 2 from Group X, 5 from Group Y and 1 from Group Z. Following is some brief information about 10 interviewees, including their code names (from A to J), their score groups (as divided above) and their detailed scores for the three vocabulary levels. Participant Group 2,000 words 3,000 words 5,000 words A Y 18 16 14 B Y 16 15 9 C Y 17 15 5 D X 15 13 1 E W 11 8 0 F X 16 12 3 G Z 18 18 16 H Y 17 17 11 I W 12 9 6 J Y 16 16 5 Table 3.1. Interviewee profile 3.2. Data collection instruments There were two data collection instruments employed in this study, namely Nation’s Vocabulary Levels Test and an interview schedule, 37
    • representing the quantitative and qualitative methods respectively. These two methods were both used because according to Mackey & Gass (2005, p.164) they serve as “complementary means of investigating the complex phenomena at work in second language acquisition”. 3.2.1. Justification for two data collection instruments Regarding the first instrument, a ready-made test was chosen because it was the most feasible way to find out the answer to the first research question on the vocabulary level of first-year ULIS mainstream English majors. Among the popular vocabulary tests as reviewed in Chapter 2, Nation’s Vocabulary Levels Test was selected for its practicality, reliability and validity. First, the test is practical to administer since it takes a maximum of 10 minutes for each level (even less in reality) and only 2 minutes to mark the whole paper (Nation, 1983). Furthermore, it was designed to allow “low chances of guessing”, “test a large number of words” (36 words each level) with items representative of their levels. The words are also not related in any way to avoid test takers’ confusion. Besides, the author of the test conducted various trials to verify its reliability. Lastly, the test samples were checked against the General Service List, the Computational Analysis of Present-Day American English and the Thorndike and Lorge list to ensure its validity (Nation, 1983). As for the second instrument, the interview schedule was designed as the framework for semi-structured interviews. This type of interview was chosen since according to Nguyen (2007, p.52), it has the three following strengths. To begin with, a semi-structured interview gives the interviewer a degree of power and control over the course of the interview thus he/she is less likely to digress from the main issues than in an unstructured interview. What is more, it still allows the interviewer far greater flexibility than a 38
    • structured interview or a questionnaire. Finally, this form of interview “gives one privileged access to other people’s lives”. In the words of Dowsett (1986, p.53 as cited in Nguyen, 2007, p.53), the semi-structure interview is “quite extraordinary” with “incredibly rich” interactions and “extraordinary evidence about life that you don’t get in structured interviews or questionnaire methodology – no matter how open-ended and qualitative you think your questionnaires are attempting to be”. Particularly in this research paper, a semi-structured interview is the most rational means of eliciting the population’s commonly used vocabulary learning strategies since most members of the population have no formal training in VLS (no VLS component is seen in official high school or university English courses). Hence, it is inappropriate to use a questionnaire and ask them to tick on lists of unfamiliar terms to indicate the vocabulary learning strategies they often adopt. Instead, during a semi-structured interview, the interviewee has the chance to elaborate on his/her own way of studying vocabulary, based on which the researcher will interpret into VLS terms and patterns. 3.2.1. Vocabulary Levels Test (adapted version) The first data collection instrument of the research is a test adapted from Nation’s Vocabulary Level Test (1983). This instrument is aimed at finding out the answer to the first research question: Which levels of vocabulary have first-year HULIS English majors mastered? On the test paper, the identity of the researcher and the research title was first introduced. Then the respondent was requested to provide personal information, which was followed by a statement of confidentiality and an explanation for how his/her contact information would be used (for returning the test scores only). To further motivate the respondents, the source of the 39
    • test was clearly acknowledged (by Paul Nation, a world leading expert on vocabulary) together with a guarantee of its reliability and validity. Preceding the test questions was a detailed instruction on how to answer the test questions in order to make sure that all the respondents would write down the answers in the right way. In the main section of the test, only three parts out of five as in the original test were included for the following reason. As stated in the last chapter, HULIS first-year English majors in general and the test-takers in particular are expected to master ALTE – Level 2 (Division 1, 2008) which entails mostly communication in daily situations. Meanwhile, University Level and 10,000-word level consist of words from academic texts and low- frequency words respectively. Hence, there is little likelihood that HULIS first-year English majors are capable of mastering these two levels of vocabulary. To validate this deduction, the complete version of the test was piloted with 2 members of the target population, which returned the expected results with a negligible number of correct answers on the two last levels. This led the researcher to scale down the test, a necessary step to save time and effort and stay more focused on the critical levels of vocabulary. A more detailed description of the test can be found in the Literature Review Chapter. As for marking, each correct answer was awarded one mark. Since the focus of the test is on vocabulary size, grammatical mistakes like plural/singular and verb conjugation were ignored. To arrive at a rough figure of vocabulary size at each level, the total score for that level was divided by 18 and multiplied by 1000 (each level represents 1000 words). For example, if one scored 9 out of 18, he/she probably knew about 500 words at that level. However, in this research, the goal is not to calculate 40
    • figures but to examine the mastery of vocabulary levels and find out which approach should be adopted to help the target population enhance their vocabulary. Though there is no unanimous agreement on which figure should be taken as an indicator of mastery, the researcher has decided to follow Nation (1983) who suggested at least 15 correct answers out of 18 (over 80%). 3.2.2. Interview schedule As mentioned above, the interview schedule was designed to accompany the semi-structured interview which elicited data about the subjects’ behavior. Hence, it includes only two major open-ended and broad questions serving as a reminder to keep the interview on track while still giving the interviewer and interviewee plenty of freedom to further discuss important issues and patterns should they arise. To further supplement to two major questions, a number of follow-up questions are included with detailed instructions about the instances in which they should be used. To be more specific, the schedule is comprised of two parts. The two major questions are to answer the second research question (What are the strategies adopted by first-year ULIS mainstream English majors in their vocabulary learning?) and the follow-up questions are to address the third research question (What are the problems with the first-year ULIS mainstream English majors’ use of vocabulary learning strategies?). As the interviewees are not familiar with vocabulary learning terminology, they are not asked to the names of VLS they follow. Instead, they are asked to describe the way in which they often learn new words or revise already learnt words. Afterwards, the researcher will interpret these depictions into names of VLS as in Schmitt’s Taxonomy (1997). 41
    • Regarding the follow-up questions, they are offered where elaboration is needed to detect problems and solutions. For example, keeping a notebook is more than a single strategy. What one writes down in his/her vocabulary notebook reflects his/her view of word aspects that should be studied, whether he/she uses semantic mapping or new words in sentences appropriately. Clearly, an insight into such a complex practice requires more than interviewee’s initial description. It also demands lots of eliciting efforts from the interviewer via follow-up questions. Last but not least, wording of the interview schedule was taken into serious account due to the complex nature of the topic. For example, in the Vietnamese version that was utilized for the real interviews, the researcher used the word “cách học từ” instead of “chiến lược học từ” (a more accurate translation of “vocabulary learning strategies”). This was to “avoid ambiguous or loaded words” as advised in Nguyen (2007, p.33), helping the interviewees better understand what information they were expected to provide. 3.3. Procedures of data collection The data collection process was carried out in 3 phases, namely preparation of data collection instruments, administration of tests and administration of interviews. 3.3.1. Phase 1 The very first task in this phase was to select and adapt an appropriate test to measure vocabulary level. After numerous considerations, Nation’s Vocabulary Levels Test (1983) was chosen for the aforementioned reasons. However, it was not until the researcher piloted it with two respondents and consulted the Course Outline of first-year students that he decided to administer only the three first levels (2,000 words, 3,000 words and 5,000 42
    • words). An introduction was added to the adapted test with the key information about the study, a request for personal information together with a promise of anonymity. Due attention was paid to the layout of the test and the booklet format was chosen as the advice of Nguyen (2007, p.58). As for the interview schedule, it was composed based on Schmitt’s taxonomy (Schmitt, 1997) or his categorization of VLS into discovering a new word’s meaning and consolidating an encountered word. Like the adapted test, the first draft of the interview schedule was also piloted with 2 respondents who enthusiastically made comments and helped improve it remarkably. 3.3.2. Phase 2 Before actually administering the test, the researcher communicated with the Head of Division 1 via e-mail to obtain authoritative information about the number of classes, students as well as class size and arrangement (whether students are grouped into classes at random or according to their English proficiency). From these data, a sample of 5 classes with over 100 students was selected. The next step was to choose suitable administration dates and contact teachers of the chosen classes for permission. Plenty of heed was paid to gaining the support of these “authority figures” because according to Nguyen (2007, p. 39), “participants are quick to pick up their superiors’ attitudes toward the survey”. Also, the researcher sought the teachers’ permission to administer the instrument during class time since as a test; it requires an appropriate sitting arrangement and silence if the test scores are to reflect the students’ levels. To boost the students’ enthusiasm, the researcher tried to evoke their curiosity about their own vocabulary levels, asserted the 43
    • reliability and validity of the test and promised to return their results in one week’s time. After the provision of key instructions, the timing was started. During the time allowance, the researcher occasionally moved around the class, encouraging the students to raise questions about anything unclear but carefully not distracting them. Besides, students were asked to maintain academic integrity so that the test scores would not be a distorted reflection of their actual levels. 3.3.3. Phase 3 In this final phase, the most daunting task was to select the interviewees. To ensure that 10 students would be as representative of the population of 469 students as possible, numerous calculations had been made. Again, the teachers were contacted for permission to invite one to three students of their classes out for interviews on VLS during class time. Afterwards, the 10 selected participants were contacted individually for their consent. To make them more enthusiastic, the researcher promised to give them some tips on VLS after the interviews. Furthermore, the interviews were scheduled for different dates in case the interview schedule had to be changed to suit the real situation. Thanks to this precaution, the data collection went smoothly despite some major changes after the first two interviews. During each interview, the researcher attempted to encourage the interviewee but still remain as neutral as possible. A lot of follow-up questions were fielded to gather not only strategy names but also the problems the interviewee encountered when using the strategy. For example, 44
    • when an interviewee said she used flash cards, she was then asked how she made and learnt from those flashcards. Throughout the interview, efforts were made to draw the interviewee back to the right track when he/she showed sign of digression. Besides, clarification skills were frequently applied to avoid future misinterpretations. Copious notes were also taken to enable easier and faster data processing in the subsequent stage. 3.4. Methods and procedures of data analysis To begin with, the data collected were categorized under the three research questions. To be specific, the test scores answered the first research question while the interview data addressed the other two. Regarding the first question, the test scores were recorded separately for each level since the study was to find out students’ mastery of vocabulary levels rather than to arrive at an estimation of students’ vocabulary size. For every level, the frequency of each score from 0 to 18 was counted and illustrated in a bar chart. In this way, the score distribution would manifest itself clearly, making it easier to comment further on students’ mastery of vocabulary levels. With reference to the second question, data processing was far more complex. As the answers of the interviewees were descriptions of their learning behavior, substantial efforts were required to interpret them into the strategies in Schmitt’s taxonomy (1997). Afterwards, the frequency of the strategies in use was calculated and charted to reveal significant trends. Comments were then made on the characteristic of commonly used strategies. Finally, the data from the follow-up question were analyzed to show the pitfalls in the interviewees’ use of strategies. It is the researcher’s 45
    • awareness that such an analysis is highly subjective and prone to misinterpretation. Thus, quite a few quotations were used to provide more credentials for the comments. Summary Throughout this chapter, the methodology of the paper, which is a combination of the qualitative and quantitative methods, has been rationalized. First, the selection of the sample for both surveys (test-based and interview-based) following stratified random sampling and interval sampling methods was substantiated. Succeeding the Participants section was an intricate justification for and description of the two data collection instruments. The chapter was concluded by a full account of the methods and procedures of data collection and analysis. 46
    • CHAPTER 4: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION In this chapter, all collected data from the test papers and interviews will be analyzed and discussed to provide the answers to the three research questions. Furthermore, the findings of this study will be thoroughly discussed and related to the relevant literature so that not only the detected patterns themselves but also the causes behind will be brought to light. 4.1. Research question 1: What is the vocabulary level of first-year ULIS mainstream English majors? As stated in the previous chapter, the first research question was answered by the marks 104 ULIS first-year mainstream English majors scored on the Vocabulary Levels Test adapted from the original version by Nation (1983). In the adapted version, there are only 3 levels, namely 2,000- word level, 3,000-word level and 5,000-word level, each of which is comprised of 18 items. Since each item is awarded one mark, the highest possible score for each level is 18. If a test taker scored at least 15 for a level, he can be considered to master that level of vocabulary (Nation, 1983). Following is the detailed score distribution of 104 test takers for each vocabulary level. Besides the participants’ charted scores, extra information such as mean and range will be provided where appropriate to clarify the sample’s vocabulary level. 2,000-word level The score distribution is illustrated in the chart below. The horizontal axis carries the score range (0-18) and the vertical axis represents the frequency of each score (the number of students who obtain the score). More detailed information about the score frequency can be seen in the data table right below the chart. 47
    • SCORE DISTRIBUTION 2000 30 25 FREQUENCY 20 15 10 5 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 3 4 11 17 21 20 26 SCORE RANGE Chart 4.1. 2,000-word level score distribution 3,000-word level SCORE DISTRIBUTION 3000 20 15 FREQUENCY 10 5 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 0 0 0 0 1 1 3 1 4 0 4 5 11 7 9 18 18 13 9 SCORE RANGE Chart 4.2. 3,000-word level score distribution Regarding the 3,000-word level, the score distribution seemed more even across the marking scale from under 9 points (9.6%), between 9 and 14 points (34.6%) to 15 points and above. Though the range (14 points) was really remarkable, the mean was still as high as 13.95 points due to the fact that over half of the sample (58 students or 55.8%) have obtained the mastery scores for the 3,000-word level. 48
    • 5,000-word level SCORE DISTRIBUTION 5000 25 20 FREQUENCY 15 10 5 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 5 3 4 10 9 8 20 6 6 4 7 7 7 1 2 1 4 0 0 SCORE RANGE Chart 4.3. 5,000-word level score distribution With reference to the 5,000-word level, the tendency seemed in sharp contrast the two previous levels: the distribution was skewed towards the left of the marking scale (behind the mastery threshold). The range of the test scores for this level was 16 points (from 0 to 16) and the mean was as low as 6.87 points. The number of test takers demonstrating mastery of this level was merely 5 people, accounting for 4.8% of the sample. An overview of the students’ mastery of three levels of English vocabulary can be seen in the subsequent table. Level 15-18 pts (Mastery) 9-14 pts 0-8 pts Mean Range (83.3-100%) (50-77.8%) (0-44.4%) 2,000 84 (80.8%) 20 (19.2%) 0 15.97 9 3,000 58 (55.8%) 36 (34.6%) 10 (9.6%) 13.95 14 5,000 5 (4.8%) 28 (26.9%) 71 (68.3%) 6.87 16 Table 4.1. Students’ mastery of three levels In short, the test scores revealed that the discrepancy in vocabulary among ULIS first-year mainstream English majors is highly significant with 49
    • roughly 4.8% mastering all the three levels and up to 19.2% not mastering the 2,000-word level. As for the mastery of the 2,000-word level and the 3,000-word level, the overall tendency was the mastery of the higher level (3,000 words) entailed that of the lower level (2,000 words). However, there were four cases that did not observe this common trend, constituting 3.8 % of the sampled students 1 . Thus, only 52 % of the test takers grasped both the 2,000-word and the 3,000-word levels. The fact that a large number of students have mastered the threshold of 2,000 words and the wide discrepancy in vocabulary levels are the two most critical points that can be obtained from the test scores. From these findings, some implications will be drawn out and elaborated in the next chapter. 4.2. Research question 2: What are the strategies adopted by first-year ULIS mainstream English majors in their vocabulary learning? To answer this question, 10 interviewees were asked to describe in detail the way they discovered the meaning of a new word (Question 1 – Interview schedule) and the way they consolidated a word once it had been encountered (Question 2 – Interview Schedule). The elaborate descriptions of their own learning behavior were then interpreted by the researcher into Schmitt’s taxonomy of vocabulary learning strategies (1997). Strategies for discovering a new word’s meaning Regarding the first class of strategies, dictionary look-up is the most commonly used (reported by 10 out of 10 interviewees). It was closely followed by guessing from context (6 out of 10). Meanwhile, only 1 student 1 The abnormality of these cases could be attributed to many reasons, including the performance of the test takers since their scores were actually very close to the 2,000-level mastery threshold. (Three of them got 14 points and the other one got 13 points). 50
    • claimed to use asking teacher and the same was true for asking peers. The above figures are summarized in the following table: TYPE STRATEGY FREQUENCY OF USE DET Dictionary look-up 10 DET Guessing from context 6 SOC Asking teacher 1 SOC Asking peers 1 Table 4.2. Students’ use of discovery strategies As can be seen, most interviewees preferred determination strategies (DET) or self-reliance strategies rather than recourse to another person’s expertise (social strategies). Of the two determination strategies, dictionary look-up, a less demanding strategy, was clearly more popular than guessing from context. Strategies for consolidating word knowledge With reference to consolidating a word once it has been encountered, a total of 18 strategies were used as detailed in the table below. These strategies are divided into three types: Social (SOC), Memory (MEM), Cognitive (COG), and Metacognitive (MET). Explanations on these types of strategies can be found in the Literature Review Chapter. TYPE STRATEGY FREQUENCY MEM Use new word in sentences 10 COG Keep a vocabulary notebook 8 51
    • COG Written repetition 6 COG Visual repetition 2 4 MEM Pictorial representation 4 MEM Connect word to synonym/antonym 4 COG Verbal repetition 3 MET Use English-language media 3 MET Skip new word 3 MEM Say aloud new word when studying 3 MEM Group words together (topic) 3 COG Flash cards 3 SOC Study and practice in group 2 MET Spaced word practice 2 MEM Paraphrase word meaning 2 MEM Relate to personal experience 1 Table 4.3. Students’ use of consolidation strategies Besides 58 strategies in Schmitt’s Taxonomy (1997), one strategy (visual repetition) was added from 4 interviewees’ responses. Interviewee A, for example, says: “Unlike my classmates, I do not write down the new word again and again. Instead, I look closely at the word in the dictionary for many times and try to remember it.” This modification to the taxonomy is, in fact, in accordance with Schmitt’s comment that there are “numerous VLS” and his list is far from exhaustive (Schmitt, 2000, p.133). As this strategy involves mechanical repetition, it is labeled as cognitive (COG). From the table, it can discerned that there are 3 strategies most favored by the interviewed students, namely using new word in sentences, 2 An extra strategy added by the researcher. Further explanations are provided in the first paragraph following the table. 52
    • keep a vocabulary notebook and written repetition. The number of students adopting these strategies was far greater than the other enlisted ones. For instance, written repetition was adopted by 6 of the students, doubling the number of those using English-language media, and tripling the number of those spacing their vocabulary revision (practice). Besides viewing individual strategies, it is necessary to see how commonly the four groups of strategies (SOC, MEM, COG and MET) were used by the interviewees. To arrive at a figure representing this feature, the number of people using strategies of the same type will be aggregated. The subsequent table demonstrates the result of such calculations: TYPE NUMBER OF STRATEGIES TOTAL AVERAGE AVAILABLE USE FREQUENCY SOC 3 2 0.67 MEM 28 27 0.96 COG 9 24 2.2 MET 5 8 1.6 Table 4.4. Students’ use of 4 sub-categories of consolidation strategies The table reveals that memory (mnemonic) strategies were the most popular in terms of the total use (27), closely followed by cognitive strategies (24). Nonetheless, if taking the average use for each strategy of a group into consideration, it was cognitive strategies that topped the list. Also, among the top three strategies, two out of three (keep a vocabulary notebook, written repetition) belong to the cognitive category which involves “using mechanical means to study” (Schmitt, 2000, p.136). In other words, cognitive strategies, though limited in quantity (only 9 compared 53
    • with 28 memory strategies), are the most favored by the interviewed students in their consolidation of word knowledge. Discussion The interview data reveals that in both discovering the meaning of a new word and consolidating an already encountered word, there is still a remarkable tendency towards strategies that require low level of mental processing among the interviewees. This finding is quite similar to Schmitt’s (1997) in his survey with over 100 Japanese learners of English who were found to favor dictionary look-up (especially bilingual dictionaries), written and spoken repetition, and focused-on-form strategies. However, first-year ULIS mainstream English majors still differed from Schmitt’s Japanese subjects in significant ways. First, all the ten students asserted their frequent use of monolingual dictionaries rather than bilingual ones. Moreover, up to 6 out of 10 interviewed learners claimed to use the guessing strategy and all of them reported on using new word in sentences. These demonstrate that the interviewees of this study, as English majors, have pursued deeply processing strategies to a certain extent. Nevertheless, there still existed quite a few problems in their manipulation of VLS which would be elaborated on in the next part. 4.3. Research question 3: What are the problems with the first-year ULIS mainstream English majors’ use of vocabulary learning strategies? This question was answered based on the interviewer’s comparison between the interviewees’ use of vocabulary learning strategies and the suggested approach in the related literature. Broadly speaking, two major pitfalls could be observed, namely a tendency towards low-level processing VLS and students’ inappropriate use of their preferred VLS. Tendency towards low-level processing VLS 54
    • The first flaw is, as mentioned above, a tendency towards the strategies requiring low level of mental processing. For example, 6 out of 10 students adopted written repetition, as a major means of consolidating vocabulary together with 4 using visual repetition and 3 following verbal repetition. This low level of processing is responsible, to some extent, for the low rate of retention and slow access to vocabulary. Among 6 students practicing written repetition, 4 complained about these problems. Additionally, 2 out of 4 students and all the three students following visual repetition and verbal repetition encountered the same difficulties. Here are the complaints from C (using visual repetition) and D (using written repetition). Interviewee C: For many words, I found them so familiar when encountering them in the text but I couldn’t remember their meaning. Interviewee D: I write down words a lot of times …but I easily forget words I have just learnt. As a result of the focus on low-level strategies, the students did not make good use of many highly beneficial strategies such as using affixes and roots (0), connecting word to a personal experience (1), keyword method (0), and spaced practice (0) to name just a few. This pitfall is somehow understandable because the mentioned strategies take a lot of time and effort for one to successfully implement them. For instance, Nation (1990) estimates that 20 times of practice are required to enable adequate use of keyword method. Likewise, the distribution of practice (spaced practice) into many sessions over a long time demands great discipline and diligence from learners. Besides, these strategies require formal training, which has never been available to the target students. 55
    • But Schmitt (2000, p.135) affirms that the time expended would be well spent if used on important words. Take the word part strategy (using affixes and roots) as an example. To become an effective user, one needs to first master affixes and roots and then practice extensively in recognizing these components in words. Also, he/she must get used to restating dictionary definitions into special explanations with the meanings of affixes and roots included (Nation, 2003). This task may sound daunting but according to Nation (2001, p.280), once the strategy is well used, it can help learners learn “thousands of English words”. This benefit is by no means overstated because about 60% of English words are derived from Latin - Greek roots and affixes (Nation, 2001). Inappropriate use of preferred VLS As for the strategies used by many interviewees, they were not implemented in the appropriate way, especially in using dictionaries, using new words in sentences and keeping a vocabulary notebook. Regarding dictionary use, the types of information obtained from the dictionary of the ten interviewees are shown in the table below: INTERVIEWEE TYPES OF INFORMATION OBTAINED A - meaning, pronunciation - examples and idioms (sometimes when they are “eye- catching” B - meaning, pronunciation - word family - dependent preposition C - pronunciation, meaning - example - “interesting” structures D - pronunciation, meaning - example E - meaning, pronunciation - word family - register (formal or informal) F - meaning, pronunciation 56
    • G - pronunciation, meaning - synonym, antonym - idiom, phrasal H - meaning - synonym, antonym - example I - meaning, pronunciation - word family J - meaning, pronunciation - collocation 3 Table 4.5. Types of information obtained by students from dictionaries As can be seen from the table, only several aspects of a word were studied by the interviewees. Their foremost concern seemed to be the meaning (10 out of 10), followed by pronunciation. Only one student (H) was not used to writing down the phonetic transcription, which resulted in her mispronunciation of very familiar words like comfortable and chocolate (detected in a quick check by the researcher). Apart from these two aspects, the students also paid attention to example (4), word family (3), idiom and phrasal verb (2), synonym and antonym (1), preposition (1), structure (1), and register (1). The results can be regarded as a reflection of the interviewees’ views of dictionaries. Apparently, they consider dictionaries a quick look-up tool rather than “a rich resource for vocabulary acquisition” (Thornbury, 2002, p.151). Hence, they do not make full use of all the information offered in a dictionary like its connotation, register, grammatical information (countable or non-countable noun, transitive or intransitive) and collocation. Regarding collocation- a critical aspect of vocabulary in use, a quick check was conducted by the interviewer in which he asked each interviewee whether they knew the term or not. For this question, there were 9 “No” 3 The interviewee did not know the term “collocation” 57
    • answers out of 10. Only 1 student (G) said: “I’ve just bought the Oxford Collocation Dictionary but I haven’t used it”. This proves that even Interview G, who had the highest score in the test, did not have an adequate understanding of collocations and her dictionary. In fact, Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, which Interview G uses, does provide word collocations. They are printed in bold and often occur in example sentences that typify the real use of collocations in native speakers’ English. With reference to the examples in a dictionary, only four out of ten students stated they did take notice of this aspect, which is a serious oversight because the examples listed in a dictionary are normally chosen carefully to reflect the typical context in which the word is used by native speakers. In short, the interviewees’ lack of attention to the above mentioned features demonstrated their failure to study the usage of a word via the dictionary. This failure, in turn, led to the problems with the use of another strategy mentioned right below. The second strategy that was equally popular among the interviewees and also inappropriately used was using new word in sentences. This strategy has a number of manifestations from examples to illustrate the meaning of a new word to sentences in writing or speaking tasks. However, due to the limitations of an interview, the strategy of using new word in sentences was examined on the example sentence level only. For instance, when asked to construct a sentence with a new word she recently learnt (dolphin), Interviewee D said: “Dolphin is very friendly with human.” In this six-word sentence, 3 grammar mistakes can be easily detected, which was probably due to her omission of grammar information of the words “dolphin”, “friendly” and “human”. Or else, she should have said the sentence as follows: “Dolphins are very friendly to/towards humans 58
    • (human beings).” Similarly, another student (I) set the subsequent example: “Last Sunday I had a wonderful holiday”. The problem with this example is that there is no clue to reveal the meaning of “wonderful”. There are numerous adjectives even contrasting ones can fit in with “holiday” (say, “great” and “terrible”). Thus, using new word in such sentences do little to help reinforce the student’s recall of word meaning. From these two simple cases, it is very likely that students will encounter far more problems when using new words in complex written and spoken discourse like a paragraph/essay or conversation/ presentation. Finally, many problems could also be detected in the way eight interviewees organized their vocabulary notebooks. Thornbury (2002, p.156) stresses that learners “have to depend to a large extent on their own vocabulary records” because these materials are the basis for their repeated practice – a must for vocabulary learning. Generally speaking, the interviewees’ vocabulary notebooks are simply mechanical records of words and its meanings. Only 2 students (H and I) maintained that they regularly provided examples for new words. This lack of examples in vocabulary notebooks is completely plausible because the vocabulary information students record in their notebooks is heavily influenced by the way they retrieve information from the dictionary (only 4 students paid attention to dictionary examples as mentioned above). Only 1 student reported that she used different colors to mark the head word, meaning and examples. This habit is beneficial, allowing faster retrieval of word knowledge and more attention paid to important points. These advantages explain why modern dictionaries also take a similar color marking system. 59
    • Merely one student drew pictures in the vocabulary notebook. More interestingly, she said: “when I learnt the word building, I drew a brick and when I learnt the word beautiful, I drew a flower”. In this way, she could probably illustrate even abstract nouns by relating them to something with the same quality. However, no student applied a tree diagram or a bubble network, which is strongly advised by McCarthy and O’Dell (2002,p.8). Although “there is no one correct way to organize a vocabulary notebook” (McCarthy & O’Dell), the lack of information in a vocabulary notebook and the mechanical way in which the insufficient information was recorded should be dealt with, possibly with “some classroom training” as suggested by Thornbury (2002, p.157). Clearly, this point on “classroom training” is applicable not only for organizing vocabulary notebook but also for all the other strategies, including dictionary use and using new words in sentences. As far as the researcher is concerned, the more familiar a strategy is, the more training should be devoted to it. The first reason is that as a strategy is familiar, how it is adopted is often taken for granted: teachers suppose students should know it and students suppose they know and do it the right way. However, the data analyzed above suggest the reverse is true. Second, students tend to adopt familiar strategies. Hence, it is highly cost effective to train students in what they will often use. 60
    • Summary Through thorough analysis of the collected data, the research has discovered that a majority of the target population (over 80%) have mastered the 2,000-word level but there is still a considerable discrepancy among its members. Also, it has been found out that the researched students utilize a total of 22 VLS and in their implementation of these strategies, there were two major problems, namely the tendency towards VLS requiring low level of processing and the improper use of their preferred strategies. These findings will pave the way for the recommendations put forward in the next chapter. 61
    • CHAPTER 5: RECOMMENDATIONS Based on the research findings, this chapter suggests the establishment of a course component in vocabulary learning strategies. It will first rationalize the need for such a component and then explain how the course will fit in the existing curriculum. To make the foundation of such a course module feasible, a detailed description of objectives, content, material, methodology and assessment is provided. 5.1. Justification for a course component in vocabulary learning strategies It has been discovered in the previous chapter that over 80% of the participants have mastered the 2,000-word level. Hence, the explicit teaching of lexical items to the target population is quite unnecessary. Instead, time should be spent on training them in VLS (Nation, 1999). This need for such training is even more compelling when regarding the fact that the learners were not autonomous and effective enough in their control of vocabulary learning strategies, which resulted in low retention of and fluency with using vocabulary (Chapter 4). For the above two reasons, it is the researcher’s view that a course in VLS should be established as soon as possible. 5.2. Position of the course in the curriculum This course should be incorporated as a module of Study skills, a newly established course for first-year student. This integration is reasonable since this course also provides students with strategies or skills to learn vocabulary rather than teaching individual words. 62
    • 5.3. Course objectives By the end of this course, students should be able to: • Demonstrate an understanding of the goals and principles of vocabulary learning. • Develop an autonomous attitude and awareness of vocabulary learning. • Be able to implement the strategies introduced in the course in their own vocabulary learning. 5.4. Course content The course consists of five lessons, each lasting 2 credit hours (90 minutes) as detailed in the following table: WEEK LESSON CONTENT READING 1 Introduction to - How many words are Nation (1990): Chapter 1 English vocabulary there in English? &2 learning - How many words does a Nation (2001): Chapter 1 learner need to know? Schmitt (2000): Chapter 1 - How many words have I already known? - Should vocabulary be taught? 2 Fundamentals of - Aspects of knowing a McCarthy (1990): Chapter English vocabulary word 9 learning - Learner autonomy in Nation (1990): Chapter 3 vocabulary learning Nation (2001): Chapters - Principles of vocabulary 2,9&11 learning Schmitt (2000): Chapter 3 63
    • - Incidental and Thornbury (2002): intentional vocabulary Chapters 2&9 learning - Good learner vs. Bad learner 3 Incidental - Vocabulary and Reading Nation (1990): Chapters vocabulary - Vocabulary and 6,7,8&9 acquisition Listening Nation (2001): Chapters - Vocabulary and Writing 4&5 - Vocabulary and Schmitt (2000): Chapter 8 Speaking 4 Intentional - Vocabulary learning McCarthy (1990): Chapter vocabulary strategies 9 acquisition - Guessing from context Nation (1990): Chapter 10 - Dictionary use Nation (2001): Chapters - Word part strategy 7&8 Schmitt (2000): Chapter 7 Thornbury (2002): Chapter 9 5 Intentional - Keyword Method Nation (1990): Chapter 10 vocabulary - Flash card Nation (2001): Chapter 8 acquisition (Cont.) - Vocabulary notebook McCarthy (1990): Chapter - More effective rote 9 learning Thornbury (2002): Chapter 9 Table 5.1. A course in vocabulary learning strategies 64
    • The very first lesson is to orientate students in their vocabulary learning since the participants in this research were found to learn vocabulary without a clear goal and direction. Specifically, it helps them to identify their current level through the introduction of the Vocabulary Levels Test (in How many words have I already known) and their goals in vocabulary acquisition (How many words does a learner need to know?). Most importantly, a considerable amount of time in the first lesson should be devoted to a discussion of the final part (Should vocabulary be taught?) so as to change students’ attitude and raise their awareness of their own responsibility in vocabulary acquisition. This is the initial but significant step towards an autonomous vocabulary learner. In the second lesson, students are first introduced to the aspects of knowing a word. Hopefully, the lesson will help to raise students’ aware of the learning burden and the need to study more than a word’s meaning and pronunciation. Particular attention in this part should be paid to collocation – a must-know aspect of word meaning but still rather novel to the target students as found out in this study. Their inadequate knowledge of word collocations is very likely to badly affect their language performance since “fluent and appropriate language use requires collocational knowledge” (Nation, 2001, p.323). A detailed treatment of collocation can be found in Chapter 9 (Nation, 2001, pp.317-43). What is more, learner autonomy in vocabulary is again brought up to heighten students’ attitude and awareness of their responsibility in vocabulary learning. More significantly, a further step is taken in this lesson: students are provided with eight principles for autonomous vocabulary acquisition by Nation (2001, pp.395-404). These eight principles are meant to provide learners with the skills and knowledge 65
    • or boost their capability for autonomy – an essential factor besides attitude and awareness. To supplement the principles, incidental and intentional vocabulary acquisition and good learner vs. bad learner are also incorporated into the lesson. Incidental and intentional vocabulary acquisition is expected to open the learners’ eyes to various vocabulary learning opportunities beyond the traditional deliberate vocabulary learning they practiced during high school for testing purposes. Good learner vs. Bad learner is where research findings and famous examples are given and analyzed with reference to the eight principles. The third lesson can be viewed as the extended continuation of incidental vocabulary acquisition in the previous lesson. It delivers practical ideas on how new words can be learnt and already known words are recycled during students’ practice of the four skills. This lesson is of tremendous importance since studying vocabulary incidentally is a life-long practice and has “a double benefit for time expended” (Schmitt, 2000, p.120) because one can study vocabulary and practice communication at the same time. It should be noted that in this lesson, a considerable period of time should be allowed for discussing how to study vocabulary in reading because it offers the best exposure to the vocabulary of a language (Schmitt, 2000, p.150). The discussion is supposed to inspire students to develop their own reading – vocabulary scheme: students of low level can start with graded readers; more proficient learners can practice narrow reading and then extensive reading of authentic material. A more detailed guide on this matter can be found in the first part of the current chapter. The two last lessons both focus on “Intentional vocabulary acquisition” are of great practical value to students, many of whom have not 66
    • mastered the most frequent levels of vocabulary, thus in need of an effective set of learning strategies to quickly remedy the situation. In these lessons, students are first introduced to a wide range of vocabulary learning strategies are available and the theory of “depth of processing”. It is expected that after being informed about the diversity of VLS and the benefits of deeply processing vocabulary, students will be more willing to embrace a wide range of appropriate VLS instead of several ones that involve superficial processing as at present. Afterwards, students are instructed thoroughly how to implement 7 vocabulary learning strategies. Guessing from context, use of dictionary, vocabulary notebook are chosen because they are commonly utilized but in an improper manner. In the meantime, word part strategy, keyword method and flash card are brought in since though unfamiliar to the target students, extensive researches (Nation, 2001) prove that they are highly beneficial strategies. Finally, rote learning is also embraced because it is a common practice among the target subjects according to the research finding and a strategy that helps “many learners reach high level of proficiency” (Schmitt, 1997). Nation (2001) also agrees that rote learning should not be disapproved of but rather students should be taught how to make better use of the strategy. This is actually in line with the view that no strategy is “inherently good or bad” but is contingent upon the context in which they are used (Politzer and McGroaty, 1995 as cited in Schmitt, 1997). 5.5. Course material There has recently been a renewed interest in vocabulary learning so extensive resources are available as the course material. Some of the most creditworthy have been provided in the table above, including Teaching and 67
    • learning vocabulary (Nation, 1990), Learning vocabulary in another language (Nation, 2001), Vocabulary in language teaching (Schmitt, 2000), Vocabulary (McCarthy, 1990) and How to teach vocabulary (Thornbury, 2002). As first-year students are not used to reading multiple books on the same subject, it is advised that a compilation of the appropriate parts of the suggested books above should be prepared. Moreover, as the target readers of the textbook are only working towards PET proficiency (Division 1, 2008), efforts should be made to simplify the original book extracts. Ideally, the research findings suggest that the textbook should mainly consist of words from the 2,000 to 3,000 word level. 5.6. Course methodology The ultimate goal of the course is to change learners’ attitude, heighten their awareness and develop their capability so as for them to become autonomous and effective learners of vocabulary. Therefore, most of the class time should be reserved for discussions and practice. The discussions are supposed to be enlightening and motivating rather than imposing because no strategy is “inherently good or bad” but is contingent upon the context in which they are used (Politzer and McGroaty, 1995 as cited in Schmitt, 1997). Practice should be attached great importance to as well because learners are expected to be able to use the strategies, not just to know them. 68
    • 5.7. Course assessment Students can be assessed in various ways, two of which are suggested as follows by the researcher. If possible, both should be used as they are complementary forms of assessment. Continuous assessment: Students are required to hand in their vocabulary notebooks or collections of flash cards and will be assessed on the way they organize these learning aids. These vocabulary records should span over about 10 weeks so that students can incorporate good strategies in taking and using vocabulary records into their learning habits. Also, this ensures more precise assessment of students’ works. Test: Students are required to take a test comprised of two parts. The first includes a set of multiple choice, matching or yes/no questions on vocabulary learning goals and principles. The second part requires students to demonstrate such strategies as key word method, word part strategy, etc with a number of words. Summary The chapter can be regarded as a sketch syllabus of a course in vocabulary learning strategies with a detailed program, suggested material, methodology and forms of assessment. Through this chapter, it is the researcher’s expectations that such a course in vocabulary learning strategies will soon be introduced at the English Department to provide the needed assistance for the target students in their monumental task of vocabulary acquisition. 69
    • CHAPTER 6: CONCLUSION As the conclusion of the whole research, this chapter will first review significant research findings that have been elaborated on in Chapter 4. Afterwards, it will pinpoint some limitations of the study, based on which suggestions for further studies will be offered. 6.1. Major findings of the study Firstly, the study has found out that there is a remarkable discrepancy in the first-year ULIS mainstream English majors’ vocabulary level. About 19.2% of the test-takers have yet to master the 2,000-word level. Only 4.8% have grasped all the three levels. 52.8% have shown mastery of the first two (2,000-word and 3,000-word) while about 18% have gripped the first. As the population consists of so many levels, the direct teaching of certain lexical items is hardly effective. Second, the research has discovered that the interviewed students used a total of 22 VLS for discovering new words and consolidating already encountered words. The students’ use of strategies was both similar to and different from that of Japanese subjects in Schmitt’s survey (1997). Both had a tendency towards using strategies that required little mental processing (cognitive strategies) but still first-year ULIS mainstream English majors demonstrated greater effort in processing vocabulary. They utilized monolingual dictionaries rather than bilingual ones. More of them followed the guessing strategy and put new words in practice than Schmitt’s subjects. Third, two pitfalls were detected in the interviewees’ use of VLS. The first, as mentioned above, is the omission of effective VLS such as the word part strategy, keyword method, etc. This has been due to the demanding nature of the strategies and the target students’ lack of formal training in 70
    • VLS. The second problem was the improper use of familiar and favored strategies such as looking up dictionaries, using new words in sentences and keeping a vocabulary notebook. Again, the problem was found to result from students’ lack of training in VLS. From these findings, the researcher has devoted a chapter to suggest the establishment of a course in VLS, which is also one of the greatest contributions of this study. 6.2. Limitations of the study A number of limitations can be discerned in the study due to the time constraints and the researcher’s limited ability and experience. Initially, only 104 members of the population were involved in taking the Vocabulary Levels Test and 10 were invited to interviews on their use of VLS. However, this limited sample size has been compensated for by the thorough selection of participants based on stratified random sampling and interval sampling. What is more, the interpretation of the interviewees’ descriptions of their learning behavior was unavoidably flawed for two reasons. First, Schmitt’s taxonomy, though the most comprehensive available, cannot embrace all the existing VLS as the author himself admits (Schmitt, 1997). Second, misinterpretation of the interviewees’ ideas was highly probable especially when the interviewees were confused and could not make themselves clear. Aware of these potential problems, the researcher adopted an open attitude and made necessary changes to the taxonomy (add one new VLS) as well as constantly comparing the notes and the recordings to minimize the chances of misinterpretation. Finally, only the use of the three most common VLS has been thoroughly investigated, leaving 19 others barely touched upon. Had there 71
    • been more time available, an inquiry into those VLS would have disclosed more problems in students’ use of VLS. 6.3. Suggestions for further studies As vocabulary learning and teaching are a relatively unexplored research area in Vietnam, there is still a lot of room for further studies on this issue. As this paper investigates students’ use of VLS in general, it has yet to treat significant strategies like guessing from context, using dictionaries, organizing vocabulary notebooks exhaustively enough. Therefore, researches into each strategy are a promising direction. Moreover, the teaching and learning of vocabulary at ULIS at present is mainly attached to reading skill. Hence, it is tempting to find out how vocabulary knowledge could be best expanded through various reading activities and assignments (particularly reading portfolios). Lastly, little is known about ULIS students’ use of vocabulary in productive activities (speaking and writing). Consequently, studies about students’ productive use of vocabulary are in great demand. Summary The three research findings have once again been highlighted in this chapter, raising the need for the establishment of a course in VLS. Also, the limitations of the study have been acknowledged, including the limited sample size, the flawed interpretation of the interviewees’ description and the limited coverage of strategy analysis. Finally, the chapter has been concluded with suggested directions for further studies including the separate treatment of significant VLS, the lexical acquisition in reading and the productive use of vocabulary. 72
    • REFERENCES Allen, V.F. (1983). Techniques in teaching vocabulary. New York: Oxford University Press. De Vau, D. (2002). Survey in Social Research Fifth Edition. Australia: Routledge. Division 1. (2008). Course outline. Unpublished course book. Hanoi: University of Languages and International Studies, Vietnam National University. Flexner, S (Ed.). (2003). Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary on CD-ROM. New York: Random House. Fox, L. (1987). On acquiring an adequate second language vocabulary. In Long, M.H. & Richards, J.C. (Eds), Methodology in TESOL (pp. 307- 311). Boston: Heinle & Heinle Publishers. Hornby, A.S. (2000). Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary Sixth Edition. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press. Ghazal, L. (2007). Learning vocabulary in EFL contexts through vocabulary learning strategies. Novitas-ROYAL, Vol.1, pp.84-91. Retrieved January 10, 2009 from http://www.novitasroyal.org/Ghazal.pdf Griffiths, C. (2004). Language learning strategies: Theory and Research. Retrieved January 12, 2009 from http://www.crie.org.nz/research_paper/c_griffiths_op1.pdf Mackey, A. & Gass, M. (2005). Second Language Research. Methodology and Design. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers: New Jersey.Nguyen (2007, p.52) Research methodology 73
    • McCarthy, M. ((1990). Vocabulary. Hongkong: Oxford University Press. Meara, P. (1990). Some notes on Eurocentres Vocabulary Tests. Retrieved January 12, 2009 from http://www.lognostics.co.uk/vlibrary/meara1990b.pdf Nation, P. (1983). Testing and teaching vocabulary. Guidelines, Vol. 5(1): pp.12-15. Retrieved January 16, 2009 from http://www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/staff/paul-nation/nation-pubsdate.aspx Nation, I.S.P. (1990). Teaching and learning vocabulary. Boston: Heinle & Heinle Publishers. Nation, P. & Waring, R. (1997). Vocabulary size, text coverage and word lists. Retrieved April 5, 2009 from http://www.fltr.ucl.ac.be/fltr/germ/etan/bibs/vocab/cup.html. Nation, P. and Laufer, B. (1999). A vocabulary-size test of controlled productive ability. Language testing Vol. 16 (1):pp.33-45. Retrieved January 16, 2009 from http://www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/staff/paul- nation/nation-pubsdate.aspx Nation, I.S.P. (2001). Learning vocabulary in another language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Nation, I.S.P. (2002). Learners’ use of strategies for effective vocabulary learning. Prospect Vol. 17(1):pp.15-35. Retrieved January 16, 2009 from http://www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/staff/paul-nation/nation- pubsdate.aspx 74
    • Nguyen, T.T.M. (2007). Research methodology. Unpublished course book. Hanoi: University of Languages and International Studies, Vietnam National University.Palfreyman, D. (n.d.). Learner Autonomy: Knowing Who to Depend on and How. Retrieved January 14 from http://ilearn.20m.com/research/learnera.htm Pearson, D.P., Hiebert, H.E. and Kamil, M.L. (2007). Vocabulary assessment: What we know and what we need to learn. Reading Research Quarterly: Vol. 42(2). Retrieved January 15 from http://www.reading.org/Library/Retrieve.cfm?D=10.1598/RRQ.42.2.4 &F=RRQ-42-2-Pearson.pdf Read, J. (2000). Assessing Vocabulary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Richards, J.C. & Schmidt, R. (2002). Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics (Third Edition). Malaysia: Longman Ltd. Scharle, A. and Szabo, A. (2000). Learner Autonomy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Schmitt, N. (1993). Identifying and assessing vocabulary learning strategies. Thai TESOL Bulletin Vol. 4. Retrieved January 15,2009 from http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2sql/content_storage Schmitt, N. (1997). Vocabulary learning strategies. In Schmitt, N & McCarthy, M. (Eds). Vocabulary: Description, Acquisition and Pedagogy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 75
    • Schmitt, N. (2000). Vocabulary in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Takac, V.P. (2008). Vocabulary learning strategies and foreign language acquisition. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, Ltd. The Association of Language Tester in Europe (ALTE). (n.d.). A2-ALTE Level one. Retrieved February 5, 2009, from http://www.alte.org/framework/level1.php Thornbury, S. (2002). How to teach vocabulary. Malaysia: Longman Group Ltd. Tran, L.A., Vu, H.H., Pham, T.T.H., Nguyen, T.T.H, Nguyen, L.H., Nguyen, T.L., Vu, T.P.T & Nguyen, T.T.T. Study Skills. Unpublished course book. Hanoi: University of Languages and International Studies, Vietnam National University. 76
    • APPENDIX 2A BẢN CÂU HỎI PHỎNG VẤN (Original version) Cảm ơn bạn đã tham gia cuộc phỏng vấn về cách bạn học từ vựng. Cuộc phỏng vấn của chúng ta gồm có 2 phần chính và sẽ kéo dài khoảng 10 phút. Trước hết chúng ta sẽ tìm hiểu cách bạn thường dùng để học từ mới. Sau đó chúng ta sẽ đi sâu vào cách bạn củng cố từ đã học. PHẦN 1: CHIẾN LƯỢC HỌC TỪ MỚI 1. Bạn hãy miêu tả cách bạn thường dùng để học một từ mới. * Các câu hỏi nối tiếp - Nếu sinh viên trả lời phỏng vấn dùng chiến lược “Đoán từ dựa vào ngữ cảnh” Bạn hãy miêu tả chi tiết các bước bạn thực hiện để đoán từ dựa vào ngữ cảnh. - Nếu sinh viên trả lời phỏng vấn dùng chiến lược “Tra từ điển” Bạn thường dùng từ điển nào? Đơn ngữ hay song ngữ? Từ điển cung cấp rất nhiều thông tin về từ, ví dụ như nghĩa, cách phát âm, thành ngữ, v.v. Vậy bạn cho biết khi tra từ điển, bạn thường chú ý đến những thông tin nào về từ. - Nếu sinh viên trả lời phỏng vấn dùng chiến lược “hỏi thầy/cô hoặc bạn bè” Bạn thường hỏi những thông tin nào về từ? PHẦN 2: CHIẾN LƯỢC CỦNG CỐ TỪ ĐÃ HỌC 2. Bạn hãy miêu tả cách bạn thường dùng để ôn lại từ đã học.
    • * Các câu hỏi nối tiếp - Sau khi sinh viên trả lời phỏng vấn miêu tả cách học của mình: Bạn hãy cho ví dụ về cách học đó với một từ mà bạn mới học gần đây. - Nếu sinh viên trả lời phỏng vấn tự nhận là có sử dụng sổ ghi từ / thẻ ghi từ: Bạn hãy miêu tả quyển sổ từ vựng. thẻ ghi từ vựng của mình. Dựa theo miêu tả của bạn, tôi sẽ thử vẽ một trang trong sổ/ một thẻ từ. Sau đó bạn làm ơn giúp tôi kiểm tra xem tôi vẽ thế đã đúng chưa. - Nếu sinh viên trả lời phỏng vấn tự nhận là ôn từ qua các phương tiện tiếng Anh (English-language media): Bạn dùng những phương tiện nào? Hãy cho tôi biết một số kênh truyền hình/bộ phim/sách/báo/tạp chí mà bạn thường xem để học ôn từ? - Nếu sinh viên trả lời phỏng vấn tự nhận là thường xuyên ôn lại từ: Bạn hãy cho biết tần suất cụ thể (mỗi tuần mấy lần)? Vào lúc nào? Bạn có ôn một từ thành nhiều lần không? Nếu có, khoảng cách giữa các lần ôn từ của bạn là bao lâu?
    • APPENDIX 2B Interview schedule (English translation) Thank you for participating in this interview, which will be centered on your vocabulary learning strategies. The interview consists of two parts and will last about 10 minutes. We will first find out the strategies commonly employed by you in learning new words. Then, we will go further into the way you revise vocabulary. PART 1: STRATEGIES FOR LEARNING NEW VOCABULARY 1. Please describe the way in which you usually learn a new word. * Follow-up question - If the interviewee uses “guessing from context” Please describe in detail the steps you take to guess a word from its context. - If the interviewee uses “dictionary look-up” There are various types of information about one word (say, its spelling, pronunciation, meaning, idiom, etc.). So when you look up a word in the dictionary, what types of information do you often pay much attention to? - If the interviewee uses “asking teachers/peers” What types of information about one word do you often ask teachers/ peers for? PART 2: STRATEGIES FOR REVISING VOCABULARY 2. Please describe the way in which you usually revise an already learnt word. * Follow-up questions
    • - After the interviewee describes his/her strategies Please give an example for the strategy you have just described with one recently learnt word. - If the interviewee claims to “keep a notebook/ a collection of flash cards” Please describe how you organize and use your notebook (how you make and use flash cards). I’ll draw a page of your notebook (or a flash card) while you describe then you’ll check if it fits your description or not. - If the interviewee claims to consolidate word knowledge via “English- language media” What types of media do you often use to consolidate your vocabulary? Please tell me the TV channels/movies/newspapers/magazines/books you watch/read to consolidate your vocabulary. - If the interviewee claims to “revise words regularly” Please tell me how often do you revise your vocabulary each week? On what occasions do you often revise your vocabulary? Do you revise a word for more than once? How are your revision sessions distributed (spaced)?