Investigation into vocabulary learning strategies by learners of Chinese as a foreign language in United States institutions of higher education
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This quantitative inquiry investigated the strategic approach that American university learners of Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL) adopted in learning Chinese vocabulary from the beginning to the advanced levels. Specifically, this study identified the strategies that university CFL learners reported commonly using in acquiring Chinese vocabulary, explored the underlying characteristics that these strategies share in the CFL context, and examined the predictive effect of the university CFL learners' reported vocabulary learning strategy use on their vocabulary learning outcomes. Participants were 151 non-heritage Chinese learners enrolled in Chinese classes of different proficiency levels at two universities in Boston, Massachusetts. The Questionnaire of Chinese Vocabulary Learning Strategies (QCVLS) was used to measure the students' vocabulary learning strategy preferences. Two Chinese vocabulary tests were administered to assess the students' vocabulary learning achievement. Descriptive statistics were used to identify the strategies commonly used by the learners of Chinese under investigation. Factor analysis was performed to examine the categories underlying the reported individual vocabulary learning strategies. Multiple regression analysis was conducted to discover which strategy categories are the best predictors of students' vocabulary learning outcomes. The participants under investigation reported commonly using 15 strategies in learning Chinese vocabulary. In descending order of frequency use, these strategies include practicing the words by doing homework or other assignments, written repetition, guessing the word meaning from context, utilizing mistakes to facilitate learning, selective attention, associating new words with learned words, simultaneous oral and written repetition, applying knowledge about Chinese radicals for word recognition, pronunciation practice, oral repetition, analyzing word structure, visualizing the characters, using the word in context, translating the word into native language, and taking notes. The reported Chinese vocabulary learning strategies are categorized into 12 groups comprising memory, metacognition, functional practicing, production-oriented strategies, centering attention, application of Chinese orthographic knowledge, selfregulation, dictionary use, repetition, association, consolidation, and inferencing. The combination of two strategy categories, functional practicing and consolidation, are found to positively contribute to predicting the learners' vocabulary learning outcomes. However, the predictive effect is low. This study concluded that vocabulary learning strategies (VLS) are not language specific. The VLS use does not have strong predictive effect on vocabulary learning outcomes. Pedagogical implications and suggestions for further research are rendered.
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