Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Learning Strategies of Arabic Language Vocabulary for Pre-University Students' in Malaysia

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Learning Strategies of Arabic Language Vocabulary for Pre-University Students' in Malaysia

Article excerpt


Vocabulary is a vital aspect in second language learning. The knowledge and mastery of vocabulary are able to give a direct effect on learning and mastery of a second language. The learning of Arabic language in Malaysia has also put the mastery of Arabic language vocabulary as the main goal. The aim of this survey is to explore the learning strategies of Arabic language vocabulary of pre-university students in Malaysia. The objectives of this study are to (a) measure the vocabulary learning strategies (VLS) usage level of pre university students, (b) to identify the highest strategy usage for each main vocabulary learning strategy (VLS) and (c) to identify the lowest strategy usage for each main vocabulary learning strategy (VLS). Questionnaires are used as the instrument which is developed based on the Schmitt's VLS classification (1997). The sample involved 742 students in 15 religious high school (SMKA) and government-aided religious school (SABK). The study found that pre-university students have been using vocabulary learning strategies (VLS) moderately. Generally, the students used the determination strategy with the highest frequency compared to other strategies whilst the cognitive strategy is the least optimized one. Six strategies are used regularly while 12 strategies are not used frequently. The findings show that pre-university students tend to use strategies that are simpler, not creative and do not require high level of thinking. This situation somehow has displayed that the learning of Arabic language vocabulary in Malaysia is still very far from achieving the vocabulary learning objectives.

Keywords: vocabulary learning strategies (VLS), Arabic language vocabulary, second language learning, and the mastery of Arabic language vocabulary, pre-university

1. Introduction

Vocabulary is the key aspect in language learning. It has become the basic requirement and is prioritized compared to other linguistics aspects (Talib, 2000; Omar, 1984). In other words, the marginalization of the role of vocabulary may affect the mastery of other language skills. This has been acknowledged by Hunt & Berglar (2005) who implied that lexical knowledge is the core of understanding and language usage. Tu'aymah (1986) also mentioned lexical knowledge as the major condition in mastering a language.

Various efforts have been implemented in helping students to improve on their Teaching & Learning (T&L) vocabularies. Sokmen (1997) has asserted that the efforts executed to explore the vocabulary aspects are able to assist the students in learning all the vocabulary needed in the class. Cunnings worth (1995) agreed that these efforts are great approaches in assisting the students. Those efforts started with the exploration of aspects in the target problem and product and finally tackle the process aspect.

The exploration in understanding the vocabulary learning process has finally brought into the research of vocabulary learning strategies (VLS) which has seen through the involvement of students in the vocabulary learning process. Vocabulary Learning Strategies (VLS) were originally known as one of the language learning strategies (LLS) sub strategies. However, a few researchers are of the view that the importance of VLS is seen as more prominent than language learning strategy (LLS) in second language learning (Ahmed, 1989; Kojic-Sabo & Lightbown, 1999; Schmitt, 1997). Vocabulary learning strategies (VLS) research orientation that viewed the individual strategy's effectiveness in vocabulary learning has helped the students in self-making choice, self-monitoring and self-assessment. This allows the students to apply the cognitive process strategy in strengthening the relationship between vocabulary learning strategies and achievement (Gu, 2005; Macaro, 2005).

2. The Classification of Vocabulary Learning Strategies

Vocabulary learning strategies are the methods used by the students in learning vocabulary. …

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