The vocabulary performance of native and non-native speakers and its relationship to learning style.

Article English OPEN
Booth, P. (2010)
  • Publisher: Malaysian Journal of ELT Research
  • Subject: linguistics

One of the ways in which non-native speakers differ from native speakers is that the former tend to be more unpredictable in their use of vocabulary. This study explores how the learning style of second language learners may be associated with this variability. The participants are first year university students of engineering. Vocabulary from their report writing is analysed for the amount of lexical recycling which occurs in their texts. This is done by using a measure of lexical diversity which calculates a mathematical curve fitting procedure to model the fall of the type-token ratio in order to give a value, parameter D. Learning style is based on Skehan�s (1998) memory-analysis framework. The participants are tested for associative memory of unfamiliar words and grammatical sensitivity of an unknown language. The results suggest that L2 learners who show extreme lexical diversity (either high recycling or low recycling of vocabulary), are related to low grammatical awareness and high associative memory. The implication for teaching and learning is that although non-native speakers of English may use technical vocabulary in a quantitatively similar manner to native speakers, some may need to notice the complexity and coherence in L2.
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