Date of Award

8-1-2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

First Advisor

Charkova, Krassimira

Abstract

The present study investigated the most and least frequent vocabulary learning strategies that English language teachers in Congo encourage students to use, and the strategies that Congolese students actually use to build their vocabulary. Finding out whether the students' most used strategies were teacher-encouraged or independently learned was another point of interest. A Likert-scale of 34 statements and four short-answer questions was designed to collect data. The participants included 20 male and 23 female Congolese learners of English of ages 18 to 22, all of them students in the Arts program at the Reconciliation High School in Brazzaville, Congo. Statistical and content analysis methods were employed. Attention to suffixes was the only strategy that showed a significant difference between the teacher encouraged and student used strategies. Two other strategies, guessing word meanings from context and learning words in collocations approached significance, but the difference between teacher encouragement and student use was not of practical importance. This strong correspondence between the strategies that teachers frequently encourage and students' use provided evidence about the important role that language teachers play in students' learning in general, and in strategy in particular. Quantitative results revealed contextual guessing and dictionary use to be the most frequently used strategies, whereas pronunciation was the least frequently used. Participants' narrative descriptions revealed that notebooks and notepads were frequently used in participants' independent learning of vocabulary. Furthermore, 52.38% (N= 22) of the participants attributed their frequently-used strategies to their teachers' practices and advice while 38.10% (N= 16) claimed that their strategies were independently learned. In view of theory and empirical research, the present study provided evidence that Congolese learners of English are taking responsibilities about their vocabulary learning progress by employing a variety of strategies, some of them acquired as a result of classroom learning, whereas others developed in their independent learning outside of school.

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