Vocabulary Teaching and Learning Strategies for Senior High School Students

Abstract: As one of the three major components that constitute the English language (the other two being phonetics and grammar) vocabulary plays a substantial role in English language. Arguably, language acquisition starts with vocabulary. It can.be said that a good understanding of vocabulary acquisition strategies contributes immensely to the efficiency of vocabulary learning, which in turn, will be conducive to the learning of grammatical items and to the development of a learner's overall listening, reading, and speaking proficiency. However vocabulary has long been ignored both by learners and teachers, because of the influence of traditional teaching approaches which stress the rote memorization of such isolated items as morphemes and phonetics plus correspondent meaning. It is thus not unusual to hear students complain that they spend much time on English vocabulary learning but their efforts yield little results. Such imbalance between student efforts and learning efficiency has devastating effects on the students' initiative and confidence to learn the language. While there are extensive studies in recent decades on vocabulary teaching and learning strategies both at home and abroad, there is, to the best of our knowledge, limited attempts at research on the vocabulary teaching and learning strategies focused on the senior high school level. This study is thus a remedial attempt in this connection. It seeks to explore the vocabulary teaching and learning strategies based on the insights from relevant theories and on a sustained analysis of the existing problems (misconceptions and malpractices) of vocabulary teaching strategies in senior middle schools in mainland China.The instruments employed in this study consist of a carefully designed questionnaire on senior school students' vocabulary strategies and interviews with both successful students and less successful students. In the questionnaire the author investigated the senior high school students' vocabulary learning strategies at metacognitive, cognitive and social levels. Six hundred students from Ninde municipal senior high school were chosen as subjects in the research. A follow-up analysis is made over the subjects' different attitudes towards, and conceptions about, vocabulary learning as well as the learning strategies currently adopted, revealing the degree, scope and frequency of vocabulary learning strategies adopted by present-day senior high school students as well as the relevance between the use of learning strategies and academic performance. To better understandthe difference in the adoption of learning strategies between successful and less successful learners, an additional, recorded face-to-face interview is conducted between the author and each of the twenty students chosen from the 600 participants in the questionnaire survey. The statistics were done by using SPSS.This paper suggests that the practice of various kinds of vocabulary learning strategies as well as a combination of these strategies be strongly advocated and widely enforced in the context of Chinese EFL learning. Future explorations on vocabulary teaching in senior middle school should focus on flexible and viable combinations between vocabulary learning strategies and vocabulary teaching strategies, and on effective ways to help the students form the good habits and develop their ability for life-long independent learning…
Key words: Senior English ; English Vocabulary ; Vocabulary Learning Strategies; Vocabulary Teaching Strategies

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