Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

The Effect of Technology-Supported Co-Sharing on L2 Vocabulary Strategy Development

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

The Effect of Technology-Supported Co-Sharing on L2 Vocabulary Strategy Development

Article excerpt

Introduction

Vocabulary acquisition is important for second or foreign language (L2) learners (Laufer, 1986; Llach & Gomez, 2007; Nation, 1990; Tavil & Isisag, 2009) since it affects their grammar competence, ability to communicate, and perceptions about the relative importance of vocabulary (Barcroft, 2004). Furthermore, L2 learners' vocabulary acquisition is related to their listening (Smidt & Hegelheimer, 2004) and reading comprehension (Cobb, 2007; Kern, 1989). Unfortunately, acquiring an adequate vocabulary is initially highly problematic for L2 learners (Meara, 1982). Given the important and challenge role of vocabulary acquisition in L2 learners' target language acquisition, the development of approaches to help students to acquire new words has been an important issue in language education (Aist, 2002; Gilman & Kim, 2008; Huyen & Nga, 2003; Kern, 1989; Kojing-Sabo & Lightbown, 1999; Smidt & Hegelheimer, 2004; Stockwell, 2010; Townsend, 2009). The relationship between vocabulary learning strategy (VLS) instruction and vocabulary acquisition is one of the main issues of concern (Gu & Johnson, 1996; Lawson & Hogben, 1996). According to Dansereau (1985) and Rigney (1978), learning strategies are actions performed by learners to aid the acquisition, storage, subsequent retrieval, and use of information. Strategies are especially important for L2 learning because they are tools for active and self-directed involvement, which is in line with the argument of constructionist learning in which learners construct mental models to understand the L2 knowledge. Oxford (1990) further indicated that appropriate language learning strategies (LLSs) result in improved proficiency and greater self-confidence. Numerous studies have confirmed Oxford's arguments, such as in learning Spanish (Morin, 2003) and English (e.g., Fan, 2003; Gu & Johnson, 1996; Kojig-Sabo & Lightbown, 1999).

LLSs are specific actions or behaviors accomplished by L2 learners to enhance their learning. After a certain amount of practice and use, learning strategies--like any other skills or behaviors--can become automatic. Thus, LLSs can be taught and modified through strategy training (Chang et al., 2010; Mayer, 2008; Velluntino, 2003). It has been recommended that strategy training should form an essential part of language education (Oxford, 1990, 2003; RAND, 2002). Through training, L2 learners are able to learn strategies that are useful for their acquisition of the target language, and consequently to take charge of their learning in all respects, including determining the objectives, selecting methods and techniques to be used, monitoring the procedures, and evaluating what has been learned (Holec, 1981). In such an L2 setting, teachers have new roles in the process of language acquisition by L2 learners, acting as facilitators, helpers, diagnosticians, and advisers, and being responsible for identifying students' learning strategies, conducting training in learning strategies, and helping learners to become more independent.

Most research findings on VLSs have been obtained either by using questionnaire surveys to determine what strategies were used by L2 learners (e.g., Fan, 2003; Gu & Johnson, 1996; Kojig-Sabo & Lightbown, 1999) or by investigating the effects of individual strategies on L2 learners' vocabulary acquisition, such as mnemonic VLSs (e.g., Morin, 2003; Sagarra & Alba, 2006). Questionnaire surveys provide rigid information regarding our understanding of how L2 learners use VLSs, while specific strategies provide only a partial knowledge of the effects of VLSs on L2 learners' vocabulary acquisition. However, the development of VLSs is a dynamic continuum. Through training, practicing, and modifying, L2 learners are able to use LLSs automatically, without additional mental effort (Chamot, 1987). Therefore, L2 learners require timely support during the VLS development continuum. …

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