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5. Motivation, strategy, and English as a foreign language vocabulary learning: A structural equation modelling study
Zhang, Y., Lin, C.-H., Zhang, D. and Choi, Y. (2017), Motivation, strategy, and English as a foreign language vocabulary learning: A structural equation modelling study. Br J Educ Psychol, 87: 57–74. doi:10.1111/bjep.12135
This item originally appeared in the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, Volume 87 Issue 1. See www.researchdigest.org.uk/blog
In spite of considerable advancements in our understanding of the different factors involved in achieving vocabulary-learning success, the overall pattern and interrelationships of critical factors involved in second-language (L2) vocabulary learning – particularly, the mechanisms through which learners regulate their motivation and learning strategies – remain unclear.
This study examined L2 vocabulary learning, focusing on the joint influence of different motivational factors and learning strategies on the vocabulary breadth of adolescent learners of English as a foreign language (EFL) in China.
The participants were 107 tenth graders (68 females, 39 males) in China.
The data were collected via two questionnaires, one assessing students’ motivation towards English-vocabulary learning and the other their English vocabulary-learning strategies, along with a test measuring vocabulary breadth.
Structural equation modelling (SEM) indicated that learning strategy partially mediated the relationship between motivation (i.e., a composite score of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation) and vocabulary learning. Separate SEM analyses for intrinsic (IM) and extrinsic motivation (EM) revealed that there were significant and positive direct and indirect effects of IM on vocabulary knowledge; and while EM’s direct effect over and above that of learning strategies did not achieve significance, its indirect effect was significant and positive.
The findings suggest that vocabulary-learning strategies mediate the relationship between motivation and vocabulary knowledge. In addition, IM may have a greater influence on vocabulary learning in foreign-language contexts. Theoretically, the present study’s findings considerably enrich our knowledge about L2 SRL, particularly with respect to the combined role of IM and EM. Pedagogically, awareness of the complexity of the construct ‘motivation’ will help educators more clearly understand what actually drives students to learn foreign-language vocabulary. In addition, as students’ motivation and their use of learning strategies both predict vocabulary knowledge, teachers should take these psychological and cognitive dimensions of students’ characteristics into consideration, as distinct from the teaching of content knowledge. It is important for educators to keep encouraging students to see vocabulary learning as an enjoyable process, in order to increase their intrinsic motivation for lifelong language learning.