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甘世安

除了太阳必须在那里,其余一切皆偶然。

 
 
 

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Thesis Sample 3  

2011-09-19 00:35:33|  分类: 论文写作 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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                                      英语专业本科词汇学习调查及学习建议  ——基于西北大学个案研究                        

 

摘要

词汇的学习和掌握,对中国的英语学习者来说,既是重点又是难点。在初、高中甚至追溯到小学英语启蒙教育阶段,英语单词的记背就被赋予了极大的重要性,教师常常以各种形式考察学生对单词掌握的情况。然而,升入大学后,随着学习阶段提升及教学模式的转变,词汇的学习逐渐让位于英语的各种具体分科、人文素养以及口语训练等教学内容。但实际情况是,无论英语专业学生还是非英语专业学生,在本科期间都需要参加各类英语水平考试(如专业四、八级或大学英语公共四、六级等),这些考试均对参考学生的词汇量做出一定要求。

本研究主要采用定性研究与量化处理相结合的方法,着重调查西北大学外国语学院英语专业学生的词汇学习现状,并对其词汇学习中的一些误区进行分类分析,并试图提出针对性的解决方法。研究主要包括两大内容: 记忆词汇方法、时间、内容和效果; 学生关于背单词的态度及重要性的认识。研究者采用问卷调查形式,并将所采集的数据进行统计分析。本研究结果表明, 英语专业的同学能够认识词汇学习的重要性,对词汇的学习态度比较积极,但同时存在一些问题和误区。从设计、调查、分析到写作,本研究本着务实精神,旨在其初步得出的结论能够抛砖引玉,为提高英语专业学生词汇量进而提高英语综合水平提供一些数据上的参考和教学上的启发。

关键词:英语专业学生;词汇学习;调查;建议

 

Abstract

With regards to English study in China, consistent learning and good command of English vocabulary has always been the focus and challenge. This point of view is witnessed throughout junior and senior secondary education, where great emphasis is invariably given on acquiring English vocabulary, usually on rote learning or repeated reinforcement. And this is even true ever since elementary schooling. Thus pedagogically guided, English teachers attempt and experiment with various ways to survey and measure the magnitude of vocabulary on the part of students. However, efforts dwindle on the school part when it comes to tertiary level, where major changes occur in terms of curriculum and teaching mode. For instance, the learning of words gradually gives way to ESP (English for Specific Purpose), cultural education and oral training, etc. And yet, college students experience no relax or any kind of relief concerning practical or academic requirement, for they have to take part in different English tests, TEM-4 and TEM-8 for the English majors, and CET-4 and 6 for non-English majors, all demanding the test-takers for sufficient size of English words. The present research was conducted qualitatively, together with quantitative process of data collected from questionnaires investigating the current situation of words learning and acquisition by the students of English major at School of Foreign Languages, Northwest University. Following up, the paper analyzed some faults revealed during the survey. Finally some suggestions have been put forward. Specifically, this study intended to discuss two main areas: what they do and why they think they do. The first ranges from the method to memorize words, the time spent on vocabulary accumulation, content to the effect; and the second includes the students’ attitudes towards vocabulary learning. Questionnaires were designed, distributed, collected processed. As it is, the research made several findings: generally speaking, the major students are quite clear aware of the significance of vocabulary and their attitudes are positive but some faults and misunderstandings were also found. In all the stages such as planning, investigation, data analysis and writing, the study adopts realistic attitude in hoping that its findings might provide some empirical value for improving the effect of vocabulary acquisition as well as enhancing teaching methods.

 

Keywords:English major students; Vocabulary learning; Investigation; Suggestions

 

 


                                                                                      TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS…………………………………………………………...3

ABSTRACT IN CHINESE…………………………………………………………....4

ABSTRACT IN ENGLISH………………………………………………..…………..5

TABLE OF CONTENTS.............................................................................................. 6

Chapter 1 Introduction.................................................................................................. 7

1.1 Background of the study.................................................................................. 7

1.2 Organization of the Paper................................................................................. 8

Chapter 2 Literature Review.......................................................................................... 9

2.1 Theories about foreign language learning......................................................... 9

2.2 Previous studies.............................................................................................. 10

Chapter 3 Methodology............................................................................................... 13

3.1 Subjects........................................................................................................... 13

3.2 Instrument....................................................................................................... 14

3.2.1 Questionnaire............................................................................................ 14

3.2.2 Vocabulary Test......................................................................................... 14

3.3 Data collection and analysis............................................................................ 14

Chapter 4 Analysis and Results................................................................................... 16

4.1 Results and Discussions of the survey............................................................ 16

4.1.1 Attitudinal Dimension................................................................................ 16

4.1.2 Performance Dimension............................................................................. 17

4.1.3 Vocabulary Test........................................................................................ 19

4.2 Suggestions and Solutions.............................................................................. 19

4.2.1 Reasonable Size of Vocabulary................................................................... 19

4.2.2 Time and rhythm for memorizing work....................................................... 22

4.2.3 Usage of Affixes....................................................................................... 23

4.2.4 Cultural Connotation................................................................................. 24

Chapter 5 Conclusion................................................................................................... 26

5.1 Findings.......................................................................................................... 26

5.2 Implications..................................................................................................... 27

5.3 Limitations and Suggestions for Further Research......................................... 27

BIBLIOGRAPHY…………………………………………………………………………….. 29

APPENDIXⅠ…………………………………………………………………………………. 30

APPENDIXⅡ………………………………………………………………………………..  32

 


                                                                                Chapter 1 Introduction
1.1 Background of the study

A word to a language is what a brick to a skyscraper. With a mother tongue, words are acquired by native speakers naturally and unconsciously in many cases, in everyday communicative context. Building up vocabulary, therefore, never presents a problem for the native speakers. However, when it comes to foreign language learning, how to enlarge our vocabulary is a topic often heard among teachers and students. Small vocabulary always hinders the further development of other skills, but an efficient way of learning new words is hard to come by. Even Gleason, a linguist who attaches more importance to grammar than lexicon, admitted that in second language learning, vocabulary is the most frightful part to students.

 English, a lingua franca around the world, is spoken as the first language by over 30 million people, apart from the number of people who use it as a second language. More than half of the newspaper and magazines have been published in English; radio stations that use English accounts for 60% in the world; and the 75% of the information stored in computers is in the form of English.[1] Since English is so widely adopted, its words differ from one country and one field to another, which leads to a tremendous vocabulary.

The American linguist Bolinger once pointed out that much more is contained in vocabulary than any other aspects of a language. Also D. A.Wilkin holds the opinion that without grammar, little information can be conveyed, but without vocabulary, nothing can be expressed at all.[2] The aim of learning a foreign language is communication, yet lack of enough vocabulary results in the inefficiency in interaction despite how solid his grammar knowledge is or how accurate his pronunciation is[3]. Further more, the significance of vocabulary is fully recognized in testing, and thus, in those influential tests either domestic or abroad such as TEM-4 and 8, CET-4 and 6, TOEFL and ITELS, etc, much weight has been put on the test of vocabulary. Also, under the backwash of these exams, numerable brochures of memorizing or improving vocabulary have come out. Even some EFL/ESL teaching syllabuses, English Teaching Syllabus for English Majors of the Institutions of Higher Learning (2004) for instance, have certain requirement for major students’ vocabulary.

Hereby, vocabulary learning becomes vital to English major students. In order to equip our English major students with better skills, we must make vocabulary learning more effective for us who are expected to be competent in English. The present study investigates the current situation concerning what the students of English major do and how they think in terms of vocabulary building at School of Foreign Languages, Northwest University.


1.2 Organization of the Paper

The paper is composed of five chapters. Chapter One gives a general introduction to the background information and presents the organization of the paper. Chapter Two is the literature review about the basic theories of foreign language learning and vocabulary learning as well as some related studies on vocabulary learning by English majors. Methodology is the third chapter which includes the subject, the instrument and data collection and analysis. Chapter Four provides analysis and discussions on major findings of the study. In addition, we try to offer some causes and efficient solutions to mend the faults that college students are likely to commit when learning vocabulary. Chapter Five serves as a conclusion in which major findings have been summarized, implications given, limitations of the study stated and some suggestions put forward.

 


                                                                               Chapter 2 Literature Review

This chapter intends to concentrate on the theoretical basis for the present study. It first introduces the theories about foreign language learning and vocabulary learning. Then some previous studies about the vocabulary of Chinese college English major students are briefly related and reviewed.


2.1 Theories about foreign language learning

Second language acquisition (SLA), formally established itself as a discipline around the 1970s refers to the systematic study of how one person acquires a second language subsequent to his native language. Whether the target language to be learnt is called a second language or foreign language depends on its status as a second language or foreign language in the country. Although second language learning is different from foreign language learning in many aspects, people tend to treat them equal and apply second language acquisition research results to foreign language learning and teaching.[4]

Since second language acquisition is regarded as a complex phenomenon that can not be described in all aspects, there are many schools of theories and models in this field, among which, Stephen Krashen's Input Hypothesis[5] is worth mentioning. “Input Hypothesis” attempts to explain how a learner acquires a second language and was called by Krashen “the central claim of Monitor Theory”[6]. It maintains that a second language is acquired through processing comprehensible input, i.e. language that is heard or read and understood. Language that is not understood does not help; it is too advanced, just noise in the system. In Krashen’s view the input hypothesis is central to all acquisition and has implications for the classroom.

Besides, people learn a second or foreign language at different rate with different attainments. Also people vary in their time and efforts spent on learning, and most notably in their different language aptitudes, motivation, and use of learning strategies, age of acquisition and personality, etc.

The Affective Filter Hypothesis also plays an important role in Krashen’s Monitor Theory. It mainly holds the opinion that second language learning is affected by mental or emotional factors like attitude, motivation, self-confidence and anxiety, etc. every language learner has his or her own Affective Filter Device. Lack of motivation, low self-esteem, deliberating anxiety, and so on, Krashen claims, can combine to “raise the filter”, to form a “mental block”, which prevents comprehensible input from reaching the LAD (Chomsky’s Language Acquisition Device) (Krashen 1982a, p.31), and thereby from being used for acquisition.

    Krashen (1981b, 1985) summarized his five “hypotheses” as follows:

People acquire second languages only if they obtain comprehensible input and if their affective filters are low enough to allow the input “in”. When the filter is “down” and appropriate comprehensible input is presented (and comprehended), acquisition is inevitable. It is, in fact, unavoidable and cannot be prevented – the language “mental organ” will function just as automatically as any other organ. (Krashen 1985, p.4)

As a matter of fact, English vocabulary learning, which belongs to foreign language learning, is obviously a sort of input, which is usually encouraged to be carried out during the course of language learning continuously. The present study intends to find out the status quo of this basic step of learning English and its faults.


2.2 Previous studies

Vocabulary teaching had always been playing an important role in foreign language teaching, especially in the 1920s and 1930s, an array of British and American linguists threw themselves into the study of vocabulary teaching, including Ogden’s Basic English and A General Service List of English Words —a classic work by Michael West. However, when it came to the 1940s, with the standing out of American Structuralism, the learning of vocabulary gradually gave its way to the study of grammar and phonetics. It was not until the 1970s did the unfair treatment to vocabulary be altered. The most powerful Communicative Approach even regards vocabulary as a requisite of communication for it holds that “the goal of language learning is communicative competence.”

As long as enough vocabulary has been mastered, foreign language learners are able to make good sense of this language and use it to express despite a lack of solid grammar principles.

Since 1980, the flower of vocabulary teaching and study has been bloomed in the garden of EFL teaching field. But relatively speaking, there are not so many quantitative studies about Chinese students’ English vocabulary. Gui Shichun (1983; 1985) investigated and analyzed Chinese students’ vocabulary twice[7]. His second survey targeted on college English major learners, who were then at the second semester of their sophomore and senior year respectively. The results, according to which the author pointed out that major students’ vocabulary enlarged quite slowly, revealed that the average number of recognition vocabulary of major sophomore students were 6,092 and 6,647 that of seniors.

The testing centre of PLA Foreign Languages Institute (1987) tested on its own major students’ vocabulary of all five grades from foundations to seniors. However, some calculation mistakes have been found in the result, and thus its reliability affected.

Yu Aiju (1991) investigated on non English major students who further their education at Peking University by the method of free definition so as to found out their English vocabulary. If these students could be the representatives of non English major students in China, then the average recognition vocabulary of non English major graduates was 3,000 words.

Liu Si (1995) surveyed on listening and reading vocabulary of non English major students in Hainan University. It was showed in the survey that the listening vocabulary of non English major students was far less than their reading vocabulary.[8]

These researches are very important for the present study because they provide valuable theories and ideas for the researchers to do the study. However, as we can see from the above, these previous surveys were either out of date, like Gui’s in the year of 1985 or targeted on non English major students. It is of high necessity to carry out new investigations on vocabulary and its learning method of English major students, for college students nowadays are at a much higher English level than their counterparts 20 years ago. The methods and tools that are available are also much more advanced and varied at current universities. And it is the same with the economic and educational backgrounds of our period. At the same time, we should start from the aspect of vocabulary learning to explore more about English learning. The present study, therefore, intends to find out the usual ways and effects of vocabulary learning among English major students, and tries to put forward suggestions to some faults during vocabulary learning process.

 

 

 
                                                                              Chapter 3 Methodology

The previous Chapter reviews the theories of second language acquisition and previous researches on vocabulary learning of major students. This chapter will give a detailed description of the study. Specifically, Section 3.1 describes the participants. The instruments are presented in Section 3.2. In Section 3.3, data collection and analysis procedures are described in detail.


3.1 Subjects

The target population of the study is the students from the Department of English, School of Foreign Languages at Northwest University. To ensure that the subjects be more representative and comprehensive, the researcher uses stratified random sampling. The freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors are four stratums in each of which 40 students are randomly sampled. 160 questionnaires are distributed to them on March 25th, 26th and 27th. The ages of the subject students range from 17-24 and they have spent 7-13 years studying English previously. The composition of valid subject of the quantitative research is shown in the following table.

 

Table 3-1-1 Overall description of the subject of the study

 

 

Freshmen

Sophomores

Juniors

Seniors

Total

Female

31

30

31

23

115

Male

9

10

9

17

45

Total

40

40

40

40

160

 


3.2 Instrument
3.2.1 Questionnaire

The instrument of the quantitative research is a structured questionnaire which consists of three sections. The first section is personal information. The second section is questions on vocabulary acquisition. The third section is a mini test of present vocabulary. There are two types of questions, the Likert-scale items and the multiple choices. (See Appendix Ⅰ)

As to the first type of questions, the present questionnaire adopts a five-point Likert-scale system. 1 stands for “Never or almost never true of me”, 2 for “Usually not true of me”, 3 for “Somewhat true of me”, 4 for “Usually true of me”, and 5 for “Always or almost true of me”. The participants are asked to rate each statement on the five-point scale. For each type of response, a score of 1-5 is assigned. For instance, if a participant never has a clear plan of learning vocabulary, a score of 1 will be given and a score of 5 will be given if a participant always learns new words according to his or her own design.


3.2.2 Vocabulary Test

The Vocabulary test ( see appendix Ⅱ) is quoted from one of the ten tests in the appendix Ⅲ of “English-Chinese Dictionary” by Professor Lu Gusun from Fudan University. This test is made up of sixty words. When doing the test, test takers could use the number of the words they know multiplies 600, and thus get their vocabulary roughly.


3.3 Data collection and analysis

    The quantitative data was collected during the break time of classes with the help of the researcher’s the assistants. They acted as the consultants to help the subjects provide the needed information if the subjects have any difficulty in understanding the questionnaire. There are 160 copies of the questionnaire administered and 144 were collected. After careful examination of the copies handed back, there were 4 copies with errors or missed items. Thus, 140 copies were identified as valid for further investigation, with 87.5 percent of the response rate.

 

Table 3-3-1 the description of valid subject of the research

 

 

Freshmen

Sophomores

Juniors

Seniors

Total

Female

26

25

26

19

96

Male

9

9

9

17

44

Total

35

34

35

36

140

 

 

 
                                                                      Chapter 4 Analysis and Results

The foregoing chapter describes the research methods in somewhat detail. The present chapter will present the results of the study as well as the corresponding analysis of the data collected. First of all, there will be a display of the results of the questionnaire distribution.

The results and discussion of the quantitative research is presented in accordance with the responses to questionnaires and scores from the vocabulary test.


4.1 Results and Discussions of the survey
4.1.1 Attitudinal Dimension

The first part of questionnaire mainly focuses on how students are motivated. Specifically, information is sought on the students’ attitude towards the necessity of vocabulary learning and the way they have adopted to memory new words. The descriptive results of Part Ⅰ were shown in Table 4-1-1-1

As is shown in the table, the students who answer the questionnaire mostly agree with the significance of vocabulary learning, for the average points of their choice are all above 3.5, between “somewhat true with me” and “usually true with me”. However, when it comes to the real action, not many major students create a vocabulary learning plan. Even among those who do have a scheme for enlarging their vocabulary, they don’t keep it well. But the result indicates that freshmen and sophomores seem to spend more time on reviewing the new words. A possible explanation for it is that freshmen and sophomores are at a fundamental period while students from higher grades have access to more professional courses, which means the teaching and learning focus are distinct.

 

 

Table 4-1-1-1 Descriptive results of students’ attitude from the questionnaire

 

Category

Respondents

Average

Vocabulary learning is important to English learning.

Freshmen

3.81

Sophomores

3.64

Juniors

4.14

Seniors

3.70

I have clear vocabulary learning plan.

Freshmen

2.36

Sophomores

2.96

Juniors

2.53

Seniors

2.19

I can stick to my plan continuously.

Freshmen

2.39

Sophomores

2.72

Juniors

2.47

Seniors

2.57

I will repeatedly review the words I have recently learned.

Freshmen

3.19

Sophomores

3.28

Juniors

2.83

Seniors

2.86

The following questions were surveyed on the learning methods. The average sum of using affixes and word-formation rules is 2.95 for all the four grades and 58% of the students acclaim that they will form a scene related to the word when they are learning it. But for the cultural connotation of the words, only 41% of the subjects choose that paying attention to cultural background is their usual habit. The questions in this part mostly reflected the subjects’ attitude towards vocabulary learning and their habit and the results expose some faults that will be illustrated later.


4.1.2 Performance Dimension

In Part Two, Question NO. 2, Question NO. 3 and Question NO. 4, the subjects are allowed to choose more than one options or even add what they think is appropriate for their situation.

 

 

Table 4-1-2-1 Frequency results of Question NO. 2, Question NO. 3 and Question NO.4

 

 

Option

No.

Percent

Rank

Purposes of vocabulary learning

A to pass a certain exam

29

20.7%

2

B to improve English comprehensively

98

70%

1

C to be influenced by others

14

10%

3

D not clear

11

7.9%

4

Sources of new vocabulary

A specific vocabulary brochures

65

46.4%

3

B vocabulary list on the text books

66

47.1%

2

C from magazines and newspapers

68

48.6%

1

D dictionary

14

10%

5

E English movies and songs

54

38.6%

4

Methods of vocabulary learning

A scratching on the paper and spelling silently

59

42.1%

2

B analyzing structures and using affixes

44

31.4%

3

C students quizzing each other

23

16.4%

4

D doing vocabulary exercises

18

12.9%

5

E reading extensively

80

57.1%

1

Question 2 is about the purpose for vocabulary learning. The options are based on reasons that students usually have. Ninety-eight students sampled choose B “to improve English comprehensively”. It is because the subjects are all English major students whose study purpose is to master proficient English after graduation, and thus the learning of every basic part should be propitious to improve overall English capacity. “To pass a certain exam” ranks the second because quite a few tests that some students will attend have certain vocabulary requirement such as GRE. Still fourteen students acclaim that they are influenced by their peers and eleven even don’t know why they learn new words.

The subjects are asked about their vocabulary learning materials in Question 3. Magazines and newspapers, text books and vocabulary books are the most popular three choices. Numerous sorts of English magazines and newspapers are available on the market these days, by reading which, students can not only enlarge their vocabulary but enrich their knowledge as well. Text books are the easiest way to get new words, while vocabulary books designed for certain exams are also convenient.

As to the methods of vocabulary learning, the most popular choice goes to extensive reading and this is definitely a gratified result. However, fifty-nine students still use the most original way to strengthen memory: “spelling silently and scratching on the paper”. Forty-four students are analyzing the word-formation rules and using affixes scientifically.


4.1.3 Vocabulary Test

From the simple vocabulary test of the four grades, we have found the average vocabulary of major students in Northwest University almost reaches the requirement of the syllabus. The calculation result shows the average vocabulary of freshmen is around 6375 and goes to 7520 for sophomores. That figure is 9080 for juniors and 11080 for seniors. Generally, students’ vocabulary grows in accordance with their grade and years of learning, yet a few exceptions still exist, for example three sophomore students recognize much more words than some senior students. The result indicates that major students of our school polarize to some extent though the average statistics are barely satisfactory.


4.2 Suggestions and Solutions
4.2.1 Reasonable Size of Vocabulary

English learners in China are always confused about how many English words are enough to allow them to achieve free and skilled communication in English medium. It is the same question with even English major students, many of whom often complain about their poor memory or regard vocabulary memorization as too much of burden. However, it is not the case at all.

First, we refer to the vocabulary requirement in English Teaching Syllabus for English Majors of the Institutions of Higher Learning (2000)[9] (Table 4-3-1).

 

Table 4-2-1-1 Syllabus

 

项目

入学要求

二级要求

四级要求

六级要求

八级要求

词汇

认知词汇不少于2,000个;掌握1,200个左右的常用词和一定数量的习惯用语及固定搭配,并能在口笔语中运用;认识740个左右的单词和一定数量的习惯用语及固定搭配,能根据上下文的提示理解其含义。

通过基础英语课、阅读课和其他途径认知词汇达4,000-5,000个(其中含中学已学2,000个),正确而熟练地使用其中的2,000-2,5000个及其最基本的搭配。

通过基础英语课、阅读课和其他途径认知词汇5,500-6,500个(含第二级要求的4,000-5,000个),正确而熟练运用其中3,000-4,000个及最基本搭配。

通过课堂教学和其他途径认知词汇达7,000-9,000个;且能正确而熟练地使用其中的4,000-5,000个及其最常用的搭配。

通过课堂教学和其他途径认知词汇达10,000-12,000个;且能正确而熟练地使用其中的5,000-6,000个及其最常用的搭配。

It is obvious from the above table that sophomore students are qualified if their recognition vocabulary reaches 5,500-6000 and can use 3,000- 4,000 of them correctly, while the first number climbs to 10,000-12,000 so that they can pass TEM-8 successfully and 5 to 6,000 words need to be used in proficiency. For English major students, this syllabus is not beyond our ability and is also somewhat beyond our expectation, for 12,000 words are just a stream in the ocean of 2 million English words.

Vocabulary is important, yet, it is nothing but a part of a certain language. We learn English for communication, that’s why many people once heard that farmers in Western part of USA has a vocabulary of around just 2,000, but they can communicate with others without any difficulty. This, therefore, is a misunderstanding that more words you know, better English you will learn.

From my point of view, I compare vocabulary to a cylinder (Table 4-3-2) whose volume equals its basal area multiplies height.

 

 

Table 4-2-1-2 Cylinders

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Thesis Sample 3        (引用) - 安儿 - 甘世安的博客

 

 

 

Here is a display of two cylinders with different basal areas and heights. The basal area stands for the number of meanings of one word, and the height means the number of words we have mastered. We know the total volume is determined by both the basal area and the height, so height only can not effectively magnify the volume, that is to say, English learners should acknowledge as many meanings as possible of one single word so as to expand their vocabulary. Take a very common word “die” as an example. Usually “die” is used as a verb, meaning “stop living” or “stop existing”, but not many people can figure out the exact explanation of it in the idiom “The die is cast”. Actually this saying means “an event has happened or a decision has been made that can not be changed”, in other words “what’s done is done”. “Die” can also be used as a noun, meaning “dice” or “a block of metal with a special shape or with a pattern cut into it”. Another example is “appreciate”, for which we all know the usual explanations—— “to recognize the good qualities of sb/sth or to be grateful”, still this familiar word has its unfamiliar economic meaning ——“to increase in value over a period of time”. Suppose we foreign English learners are to master one word which just represents one object or a single action, then it is very likely that

It is not how many words you know but how many ways you can use a word that matters in English learning. Unless you are preparing for a GRE test which requires a least 18,000-20,000 words, even English majors can cope with ordinary tasks well with not that big vocabulary.


4.2.2 Time and rhythm for memorizing work

It is firmly believed that almost every student once heard a popular opinion which goes to the effect: Vocabulary memorization is a gradual course. Five words a day contributes to more than 1,800 a year and after six years, we will enjoy the vocabulary of over 10,000. Is it really the case? Do the majorities finish their high school with a vocabulary of more than 10,000? As a matter of fact, our real experience disproves this seemingly reasonable yet deceitful opinion. The following is the psychological reason for the failure.

The famous German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus systematically experimented on manifestations of memory. He researched and devised the curve of forgetting, which shows the progression of forgetting certain amounts of learned material as time passes. (See Table 4-2-2-1)

The basic assumption of this curve is that, as more time elapses after learning a stimulus set, the more information is forgotten.  His findings reveal that the best performance of recall occurs soon after the learning has taken place. A prime example of this occurrence can be found on a daily basis in schools and universities where students often cram for an examination, studying the necessary material, close to the time of the test.[10]

An effective way to improve the efficiency of word memory is continuous “repetition”. As is known, memory cycle consists of short term memory and long term memory. Five minutes, thirty minutes and twelve hours all belong to short term memory, while one day, two days, four days, seven days and fifteen days are important points in long term memory. If this theory is fully put into use, the memory period can be stretched to the greatest extend.

 

Table 4-2-2-1 Curve of Forgetting

 

Thesis Sample 3        (引用) - 安儿 - 甘世安的博客

 

  
4.2.3 Usage of Affixes

English learners in China prefer to recite the Chinese meanings of an English word when they try to remember it, which is now gradually realized as an inefficient vocabulary learning method. Then the usage of affixes to has been highly praised and soon became popular among English learners at a higher level. Since Chinese characters have radicals to convey meaning, affixes are regarded as radicals in English. Soon many vocabulary books that analyzing word-formation rules came out and the students take these books as vocabulary canon. As a result, it’s a common phenomenon that quite a number of students including major students start to recite those prefixes, roots and suffixes. But not many of them have realized the faults of reciting affixes rigidly. For example, we discuss the meaning of two words “flammable” and “inflammable”. As we know, “in” is a productive prefix, meaning “not”, and usually words with it has a contract meaning to the one without it. According to this rule, the above two words have contrasted meanings with the first being easily caught fire while the latter meaning cannot catch fire. As a matter of fact, they two have the same meaning “easy to catch fire and can be burned”. Here we find the problem of remember affixes blindly. Quite a few prefixes have more than one meaning just like a word does, therefore without a certain amount of words accumulation, using prefixes and suffixes directly is sometimes misleading. A smart and scientific way is to generalize the commonly-used affixes by ourselves during our learning process and then refer to the specific list of affixes to verify and enhance memory.


4.2.4 Cultural Connotation

As the foundation of a language, vocabulary reflects the culture of a certain nation throughout the history of its development. For countless English learners, it’s rather hard to make new breakthrough when they reach a certain level. In many cases, they understand very well every word and sentence structures in a passage, yet they make no sense of the meaning. The cause for this phenomenon is the lack of cultural connotation. In our study, we have found that English major students in our university still need to improve their acknowledgement of the cultural connotation behind English vocabulary.

English words’ cultural connotation refers to the associative meaning related with English-speaking countries’ historical background, religious beliefs, tradition and customs, etc.[11] First, mythologies, especially Greek Mythology, have a deep influence on English words. “Never be exalted over a premature success,as it always turns out to be a Pandora’s box.”  Here, “Pandora’s box” comes from the Greek myth in which Pandora was created by god Zeus and sent to the earth with the box containing many evils. When she opened the box, the evils came out and infected the earth. Therefore, it is used to describe an origin of evil rather than an ordinary box.      Also some suffixes have myth origins such as “Psyche-”, which relates to spirit and soul, came form the story of the gorgeous princess “Psyche” in Greek myth.

Besides, quite a few words and expressions came out from famous literature works. A case in point: “He was spurred on by the green-eyed monster to work like the devil.” “Green-eyed monster” appeared in Shakespeare’s Othello, in which “green-eyed” equals to jealous.

Thirdly, since UK is country surrounded by seas, English is a language related with the culture of ocean, contrasting to the culture of land in China. For instance the phrases “in the same boat”, “take the helm”, “when the ship comes home”, and “have other fish to fry”, etc, all handle the issues in navigation and fishing, which are definitely inseparable parts of English people’s life.

    Moreover, religion also plays a crucial role in English culture, and of course has its unique effect on vocabulary. A famous sentence is “John can be relied on; he eats no fish and play the game.” The literal meaning of this sentence is very confusing if the readers are not familiar with the religious conflicts in England in history. “Play the game” actually means “follow the instruction” or “obey the order” because the Protestants wanted to show their loyalty to Protestant by not eating fish on a fast.

Hence, we draw a conclusion that vocabulary learning can not be isolated from cultural background. A suitable context will stimulate effectively the learning of new words.

 


                                                                                  Chapter 5 Conclusion

In the previous chapters, we have reported and discussed the findings of the study. In this chapter, we shall draw a conclusion to this study. More particularly, Section 5.1 summarizes the major findings of the present study. In Section 5.2, we discuss the limitations based on the findings. Finally, in Section 5.3, suggestions for further research are put forward.


5.1 Findings

The present study reveals that the importance and necessity of vocabulary learning are generally recognized by the students. Most of the students learn words voluntarily because they want to do so. They believe that a large vocabulary has a positive effect on their learning of the language. The major findings are summarized as follows:

(1)                    Though the importance of vocabulary learning is generally recognized by major students, they have not distributed enough time or made clear plan to it. For some students, vocabulary learning is an unpleasant but compulsory task.

(2)                    English major students have access to a variety of approaches to learn new words. The major ways are: vocabulary list of text books, English movies and songs, specific vocabulary brochures and English magazines and newspapers.

(3)                    English major students adopt more than one ways to memory new words, such as using suffixes, reading extensively, doing word exercises, etc.

(4)                    Through the study, we find that the students’ vocabulary grows roughly in accordance with their grades, and their vocabulary reaches the demand of the syllabus respectively. 


5.2 Implications

Based on the above results, some implications can be drawn for English learning and teaching.

Since memory traces gradually fade away without regular practice, it is obviously important for students to review constantly what they have learnt. Vocabulary learning is of course no exception. This study provides evidence of human beings’ memory law——the Ebbinghaus Memory Curve. Hence, learners should review their vocabulary periodically.

Meanwhile, the present research provides implications to teachers. Firstly, awareness of strategy use should be raised. To help students cultivate their awareness of vocabulary learning strategies, teachers may introduce them to the wide range of alternative strategies, help them understand their own current strategies, and assist them in applying the strategies effectively.


5.3 Limitations and Suggestions for Further Research

The present study also has some limitations and suggestions for further research will, therefore, be put forward.

Firstly, due to time limitation and other practical restrictions, the participants in this research only consist of 160 students in one college, not well representing the population of the English major students in China. Thus the sample needs to be enlarged in future research.

Secondly, the method used to investigate vocabulary learning involves a structured questionnaire. It is not clear whether the participants behave actually the way they circled out in the questionnaire. They may have given responses which they thought they had followed but actually not. If it were combined with other methods, such as classroom-observation and interview, the study would be more comprehensive.

Thirdly, the vocabulary test is just one of a series of tests, and the test takers are very likely to be unfamiliar with these words but did a better job when taking a different test. Thus, to a certain degree, it undermines the validity of the research.

Despite of the restrains of his study, the present research has shed some light on vocabulary learning of English major students, which can be both helpful to both vocabulary learning and teaching. Vocabulary learning is an ongoing, lifelong process and English vocabulary learning strategies deserve more attention and future research.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 



 

 


                                                                                                 Bibliography

[1] 汪榕培,卢晓娟. 英语词汇学教程[M]. 上海:上海外语教育出版社,2007:1-2.

[2] 汪庆华. 关于我国大学生英语词汇量的初步探讨[J]. 外语界,1998年,第二期:23.

[3] 段莉.词汇学西策略对大学外语教学的启示[J].中共山西省委党校学报,2004年,第二期:75.

[4] 戴炜栋,何兆熊. A New Concise Course on Linguistics for Students of English[M].上海:上海外语教育出版社,2005:159.

[5] Reid Wilson. A Summary of Stephen Krashen's "Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition". http://wenku.baidu.com/view/39ae76c30c22590102029daa.html, 2010.11

[6] Krashen,Stephen D.Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition[M].Oxford:Pergamon Press,1982.

[7] 桂诗春. 我国英语专业学生英语词汇量的调查和分析[J].现代外语,1885年,第一期.

[8] 席仲恩.英语专业学生的词汇发展状况调查[J].外语教学,1998年,第二期:72-73

[9] 高等学校外语专业教学指导委员会英语组. 高等学校英语专业教学大纲[M].北京:外语教学与研究出版社, 2000

[10] 杨鹏. 17天搞定GRE单词[M]. 西安:西安交通大学出版社,2007:32-34.

[11] 刘玉昌. 发掘词汇文化内涵 改进英语词汇教学[J]. 武汉航海,2006年,第一期:17

 


                                                                                          Appendix I

英语词汇学习问卷调查

年级_________________性别_____________年龄________________

我从_______________开始学习英语,至今已学习__________年

 

同学们,你们好!

词汇在英语学习中是重要的一部分。为了更好地了解大家掌握正确的词汇学习方法,促进英语学习,我们进行此调查。希望同学们根据自己实际情况认真完成下表。谢谢大家的合作!

 

一、

如何回答:

在答案纸上,每个问题都有一行分为5级的选项:1,2,3,4,5  请圈出你选得号码,表示你选的答案。

每个号码代表:

1,完全或几乎不合适我的情况

2,通常不符合我的情况

3,有时适合我的情况

4,通常适合我的情况

5,完全或几乎完全适合我的情况

 

圈出最能代表你即时反应的号码,不要花太长时间在一个问题上,第一反应是最好的。

1)我认为背单词对学习英语非常重要

1        2        3        4        5

2)我有明确的词汇学习目的和计划(如每天记多少、什么时候记,等),会主动背单词

1        2        3        4        5

3)我能坚持自己的词汇学习计划,而不是三天打鱼两天晒网

1        2        3        4        5

4)我会定期复习巩固自己已背过的单词

1        2        3        4        5

5)我认为认识的单词越多对英语学习越有利

1        2        3        4        5

 

6)我会尽量在口语和写作中使用新学的单词

1        2        3        4        5

7)我认为背单词应该每次记忆少量,积少成多最有效

1        2        3        4        5

8)我记单词有一定的选择性,对自己学习直接用的单词才去记

1        2        3        4        5

9)我常使用各种单词书来帮助背单词

1        2        3        4        5

10)我会有意识的利用词根词缀来帮助记忆单词

   1        2        3        4        5

11)记一个单词时,我脑海中会出现与生词相关的情景(如shopping,会想到购物场景)

   1        2        3        4        5

12)我背单词的时候,通常只关注其汉语意思,而不太注意它的文化内涵或者词源演变

   1        2        3        4        5

13)记单词时,我会联想到与它相似的词(如由bark想到bar)

   1        2        3        4        5

14)我会有意识地把单词分类记忆

   1        2        3        4        5

 

二、选出适合你自己的选项

1)你对背单词的态度是什么

   A、苦差事,没什么用,不背   B、虽然痛苦,为了学英语也要坚持

   C、无所谓,想起来就背背     D、已经成为一种乐趣,收获不小

(第一题选A的同学结束问卷)

2)你背单词的主要目的是什么

A、通过某种考试               B、全面提高英语水平,尤其是阅读写作

C、受同学影响                 D、不清楚,觉得应该如此做

3) 你背单词的通常来源是什么(可多选)

   A、专门的单词书                B、课本课文的词汇表 

C、课外报刊杂志中的生词        D、拿字典,按字母表顺序

E、英文电影、歌曲              F、其他(请补充)____________

4)你背单词的方法是什么(可多选)

   A、机械地默念、默写             B、分析构词法,词根词缀

   C、同学互相提问                 D、反复做词汇测试题

   E、广泛阅读                     F、其他(请补充)____________

5)你背单词时的状态是怎样的

   A、始终精神饱满,注意力集中     B、开始认真,逐渐走神

   C、一背单词就犯困               D、有时效率高有时没质量

 


                                                                                         Appendix Ⅱ

年级__________性别________

■小小建议

本测试的目的是为了让您能大体了解自己的英语词汇量,所以我们建议您在测试过程中不要查阅字典,对不认识的词汇不要勉强猜测。

1. abroad__________      2. binoculars__________        3. daily__________

4. expedition_______    5. horizon____________        6. jangle__________

7. limit____________      8. postulate___________        9. ration___________

10. stroke__________      11. abandon__________         12. ballot__________

13. chaos__________       14. contraband________       15. excavate________

16. fatigue_________      17. laboratory_________        18. maverick_______

19. purchase_______       20. shuttle____________        21. abridge_________

22. aggregate_______      23. biscuit____________        24. credulous_______

25. duodenal________    26. grueling__________         27. industrious______

28. meager_________      29. nomadic__________         30. occidental_______

31. abhorrent_______   32. amorphous_________      33. crustacean______

34. declivity________      35. emaciated_________         36. foible___________

37. galaxy__________     38. heretical__________         39. igneous_________

40. nomenclature____  41. abscissa___________          42. badinage________

43. cartel__________      44. demon___________          45. dendrite_________      

46. exordium_______      47. inchoate__________         48. moraine_________

49. rubric__________     50. soutane___________         51. aboulia__________      

52. bifurcate________     53. caracole__________          54. chalybeate_______

55. croton__________     56. dysphoria_________         57. halitosis_________

58. python__________    59. ortolan___________         60. quadrat_________

 

认识的词汇数量:_____________识得的词数量×600=___________


 

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