An Empirical Study of Gender Effect on L2 Vocabulary Acquisition Strategies

Xuemei WEI


This research examines the gender effect upon L2 vocabulary acquisition strategies used by Chinese EFL university students in terms of total amount and breadth. Catalan’s research method was employed. 630 Chinese students from three universities of science participated in an investigation which consisted of questionnaire, EFL proficiency test and EFL vocabulary test. Results indicated that there were no significant gender differences between males and females with respect to the total amount of EFL vocabulary acquisition strategies they used. As for the breadth, there were significant differences between them for the twelve of the discovery and consolidating strategies. The results were explained within the framework of socio-cognitive theory which combined physiological factors with social ones, suggesting that the mastery and use of languages were closely associated with both of them. Contrastive analysis also revealed that participants in this research and those from other countries had much in common in their ESL/EFL vocabulary acquisition strategies, which might provide further evidences for both universalism and cultural relativism. Implications of the results were also discussed.  


Gender effect; EFL vocabulary acquisition strategies; Social cognition; Universalism; Cultural relativism

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