The vocabulary learning behavior of Romanian high school students in a digital context
Cojocnean, Diana Maria
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
I wish to publish papers using material that is substantially drawn from my thesis.
This thesis investigates the vocabulary learning behavior of Romanian high school students in a digital context. The research identifies the vocabulary learning strategies used by EFL high school students and focuses on how the choice of vocabulary learning strategies varies across four independent variables: students’ age, gender, academic profile (math-ICT, humanities, science and economic-technical) and language program (intensive English, bilingual, normal). These variables are hypothesized to influence learners’ vocabulary behavior. Furthermore, the study examines the technology enhanced tools (computer and mobile assisted language learning tools) used by these students in their vocabulary learning as well as their attitudes towards using technology in vocabulary learning. Likewise, the study analyzes how students’ choice of technology enhanced tools and their attitudes towards them vary across the four independent variables. The study is a mixed methods investigation with 1,239 participants (60% female, 40% male, aged 14-19 years old) learning English as a foreign language in nine Romanian secondary schools. Of the 1,239 participants who filled in the self-reported questionnaire, 43 also participated in focus group discussions prior to the administration of the questionnaire. The quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics procedures whereas the qualitative data were analyzed thematically. The results from both phases were integrated in the results chapter. The main findings indicated that Romanian high school students prefer social strategies, followed by determination, metacognitive, cognitive and memory strategies. However, the usage of the strategies in these categories is medium towards low. As for individual vocabulary learning strategies, the participants reported that the impact of a new word, English media, guessing from context, associating the word with a picture and using cognates are frequently used strategies. The results also indicated that students’ use of vocabulary learning strategies varies across the four independent variables. As far as the use of digital tools for vocabulary learning, the findings indicated that the students in this particular cultural context use few available digital tools with a preference for online dictionaries, games and social networking web sites. The results showed that overall Romanian students are not very familiar with computer and mobile assisted language learning tools, their attitudes towards the use of digital tools for vocabulary learning are neutral and they mostly associate the use of personal devices with their personal space, suggesting that they may not want to embed learning in their everyday activities. The results enrich existing knowledge of vocabulary learning strategies in a Romanian cultural context and they also give us an insight into how high school students use computer and mobile assisted language tools in their vocabulary learning. Implications for theory and practice are also discussed.
EdD in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
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