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Volume 11 Number 3, Autumn 2014, Pages 1-156   

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A Contextualised Study of EFL Learners' Vocabulary Learning Approaches: Framework, Learner Approach and Degree of Success

    Qing Ma

For this study a new memory-based vocabulary strategic learning framework was constructed involving four essential stages for vocabulary learning which can be translated into four corresponding strategy-driven processes that execute learning actions. A questionnaire study was conducted with Chinese university EFL learners who shared a similar background and learning context at the macro level, guided by four research questions: (1) can the memory-based strategic vocabulary learning framework be employed to classify learners' vocabulary learning strategies (VLS) satisfactorily?, (2) what strategies do Chinese university students use for learning vocabulary items?, (3) what are the learner clusters among Chinese university students regarding their use of VLS?, and (4) how are learners' vocabulary learning approaches related to their language achievement? It is found that learners' VLS use is very contextualised and subject to change due to many factors. A micro language-rich environment, where there is out of class reading and meaningful social interaction, is a key to high vocabulary achievement in an EFL context. The cluster analysis revealed a non-linear, complicated relationship between VLS use and vocabulary learning success. In addition, gender has a prominent impact on VLS use; however, the impact of learners' discipline on VLS use is unclear and needs further investigation.

Keywords: vocabulary learning strategies, vocabulary strategic learning framework, cluster analysis, learner approach, learning success