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Gender, Academic Major, and Vocabulary Learning Strategies of Chinese Efl Learners

RELC Journal , Volume 33 (1): 35 – Jun 1, 2002


Sage Publications
Copyright © 2002 by SAGE Publications
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Gender, Academic Major, and Vocabulary Learning Strategies of Chinese Efl Learners


Gender and academic major are often seen as amongst the major factors that influence language learning. However, empirical studies on these two factors have produced inconsistent results. This paper bases itself upon the contention that specific tasks and contexts of learning may confound the relationship among gender, academic major, learning strategies and learning outcomes. A large-scale survey was conducted amongst a group of adult Chinese EFL learners on their vocabulary learning strategies. Female students significantly outperformed their male counterparts in both a vocabulary size test and a general proficiency test. Females also reported significantly more use of almost all vocabulary learning strategies that were found to be correlated with success in EFL learning. Academic major, on the other hand, was found to be a less potent background factor. Science students slightly outperformed arts students (though insignificantly) in vocabulary size, but arts students significantly outperformed science students on the general proficiency test. Strategy differences were also found between arts and science majors, but differences on most strategy categories were less clear-cut than were those between male and female participants. Interpretation of these results and pedagogical implications are presented.
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