Macquarie University
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A study of vocabulary knowledge and vocabulary learning strategies of Chinese EFL learners

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posted on 2022-03-28, 21:03 authored by Na Fan
Previous studies on vocabulary knowledge (VK) have primarily focused on EFL learners' vocabulary learning strategies (VLSs) in relation to their breadth of VK. However, the relationship between VLSs and the depth of VK has as yet been underexplored. This study sets out to examine how Chinese EFL learners' gender, discipline, proficiency levels and VLSs might contribute to their depth, as well as their breadth of VK. A number of 419 Chinese EFL students from four universities in Mainland China took the Vocabulary Size Test (VST), and Word Associates Test (WAT), completed a VLS questionnaire, and wrote an English essay. The two vocabulary tests and the essay were adopted to assess the participants’ breadth and depth of vocabulary knowledge respectively. Follow-up semi-structured interviews were conducted to seek any possible convergence and corroboration with the results drawn on the analyses of the quantitative data, or to shed more light on some of the quantitative findings where such convergence is not found. My findings showed that firstly the participants’ depth of VK measured by WAT was less satisfactory in comparison to their breadth of VK measured by VST. Secondly, the participants used less frequent and less familiar words in their writings and they seem not good at using various words or phrases to express meaning. Thirdly, the participants favored repetition strategies, inferencing strategies and using dictionaries, but disfavored notetaking strategies, production-based strategies and association and imagination strategies. Fourthly, inferencing strategies made a significant and positive contribution to participants’ breadth and depth of VK (VST and WAT) and productive lexical diversity, whereas repetition and social strategies made a significant but negative contribution to their breadth of VK. Self-initiated strategies significantly and positively correlated with some aspects of participants’ productive VK. Finally, the overall variables (i.e. gender, discipline, proficiency levels, and VLSs) explained 13.2% of the variance in participants’ breadth of VK (VST) and 13.7% of the variance in their depth of VK (WAT) while these variables explained less variance in participants’ productive VK. This study may inform curriculum developers and shed light on both vocabulary teaching and learning.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Literature review -- Chapter 3. Quantitative study -- Chapter 4. Qualitative study -- Chapter 5. Discussion of the quantitative and qualitative findings -- Chapter 6. Conclusions, implications, limitations and recommendations for further research.


Bibliography: pages 151-160 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Mehdi Riazi


Copyright Na Fan 2015. Copyright disclaimer:




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