Task G, Using Pronouns, Possessive Adjectives and Substitution Words for Cohesion and Coherence in Academic Writing

Fill in the gaps with pronouns or substitution words listed below. (Some may be used more than once).

Such / such
They / they


If you have trouble, push the [?] button for the (inappropriate) word that means the same. Or, click the 'Hint' button at the bottom to see the next letter of each word.

A Comparison of the Vocabulary Learning Strategies of EAP and GE Learners at a University in Hong Kong (By James King)


Research into the vocabulary learning strategies (VLS) of L2 learners has gained attention because of growing interest in how they may affect own language acquisition (Schmitt, 2000, p 132). research provides pedagogical insight and direction regarding the most effective approaches for vocabulary learning. This paper will therefore report on the findings of a small-scale research project in which the VLS patterns of learners at the City University of Hong Kong Year were surveyed and then compared.

Results and Discussion
The data reveal several interesting general trends. Year One learners seem to engage in many of the determination strategies outlined by Schmitt (2000, p 134), including analysing parts of speech, analysing affixes and roots, guessing word meaning from context, and using an electronic bilingual dictionary. Participants seem much less likely, however, to engage in social strategies such as asking teachers or native speakers for word meanings. For word consolidation, learners seem to engage in some memory strategies, such as connecting words to personal experience and connecting words that have similar meanings. It also appears that they seldom use other memory strategies such as physical action (TPR) or drawing mind maps and pictures. Some cognitive strategies are also used more than , with the strategy of saying words repeatedly outweighing the strategies of writing words repeatedly or revising vocabulary notebooks. Metacognitive strategies, such as quizzing oneself with word tests, seem to be used slightly more than Social strategies, but are reported by as rarely employed.
It may be encouraging that 60% of participants report practising word part strategy for meaning discovery, as practises are more paradigmatic in nature and may be symptomatic of a ‘developing appreciation of syntax’ (Schmitt, 2000, p 60). The data reveal that the GE participants make slightly greater use of strategy than EAP learners, with 64% of GE respondents using often or very frequently compared with 56% of EAP learners.
It is also significant that 57% of respondents analyse affixes and roots often or very frequently for word meaning discovery. While the aggregated table shows the EAP and GE participants almost equal in their use of this strategy, it is salient that the non-aggregated table shows 27% of the GE learners engaging in very frequently, compared with only 14% of EAP learners.
Very salient are the differences revealed regarding participants’ reported use of guessing meaning of new words from context. Whereas 93% of GE learners say they employ strategy often or very frequently, a smaller though still encouraging 72% of EAP participants respond similarly. It is salient therefore that 57% of GE learners report use of this strategy very frequently, which is the highest percentage of any strategy. With 83% reporting use of this strategy often or very frequently, it seems that these learners have are familiar with it and understand its value, mirroring the findings of Fan (2003) that Hong Kong participants do not overuse mechanical, rote strategies (p 233).
The data also reveal that both groups are almost equal in their use of bilingual dictionaries. With a total of 61% reporting use of electronic dictionaries often or very frequently, it is one of the most-used strategies. may be a cause for concern, however, as might slow the acquisition process. Baxter (1980) states that proficiency may be impeded by an over-reliance on bilingual dictionaries as learners are less likely to think in their second language as a result of continually maintaining a link to their first (Oxford and Crookall, 1990, p 14). Fan (2000) mirrors view by stating that disregard among Hong Kong tertiary learners for other kinds of word knowledge such as pronunciation, collocation and usage may result from an over-reliance on bilingual dictionaries (p 134).
Monolingual dictionaries are used very frequently by 20% of GE learners compared with only 7% of those in EAP. suggests that GE learners may translate new words to their first language less frequently than do their EAP counterparts, and may be slightly better able to think in English (Oxford and Crookall, 1990, p 14). It is interesting that as many as 77% of EAP participants only rarely or sometimes use an all-English dictionary, echoing Oxford and Crookall’s (1990) findings that monolingual dictionaries may be too difficult for some intermediate learners (p 13). Though several researchers question the effectiveness of dictionary use for vocabulary building, argue that the latest thematic monolingual dictionaries which provide greater context may be preferable to an overreliance on bilingual dictionaries (Fan, 2000, pp 136-7; Oxford and Crookall, 1990, p 14).
Another salient finding is that Social strategies for word discovery or consolidation are seldom used by these participants. Asking teachers, practising with native speakers and group study are rarely employed, which may tell something of their character, learning style and/or cultural make-up. The Social strategy most employed is asking a classmate for the meaning of a new word, which 53% of respondents said they do.
One interesting difference between the two groups is that 18% of the GE respondents report saying new words aloud very frequently when studying, compared with 0% of EAP learners. It is also noteworthy that as many as 12% of EAP respondents say they never use strategy. There is not enough data to know whether this strategy is believed to make a difference in terms of consolidation of new words, though it would be an area worthy of deeper investigation.
The findings of this study with regard to cognitive strategies are consistent with of Fan’s (2003) which suggest that Hong Kong learners do not over-use repetition strategies (p 233). Although 51% of EAP participants repeat new words often or very frequently, as opposed to 41% of GE respondents, much lower percentages are seen for other rote strategies such as writing new words, with 35% of EAP respondents employing those strategies often or very frequently and 30% of GE participants reporting similarly. Keeping vocabulary notebooks and word lists is also not practised by most participants. These learners are also not likely to engage in the rote cognitive strategy of labeling surrounding objects, as 75% of GE and 63% of EAP respondents state they never or rarely do . Perhaps is because none of the participants are beginners who tend to favour type of strategy.
Finally, it appears that these learners do not engage heavily in metacognitive strategies, such as self-quizzing with word tests, as 70% of EAP learners never or rarely use this strategy, and 79% of GE learners responding similarly. Although more statements of variety might have been included in the survey to provide a more precise measure of metacognitive strategies used by these participants, it appears from responses to survey questions 28-30 that they are not making full use of metacognitive approaches to vocabulary learning.

Pedagogical Implications

There are several implications for teaching that emerge. Firstly, while a large percentage of respondents report use of word part analysis and guessing words from context, continued training of these paradigmatic strategies, especially in lower proficiency EAP classes, may be needed to best affect vocabulary growth (Nation, 2008, p 74). appears to be truer of analyzing affixes and roots, which as many as 40% of respondents only rarely or sometimes do. As this ‘deeper’ strategy is not employed by a large majority of respondents, more training may be called for, particularly, again, in EAP classes.
More significantly, as Fan (2000) writes, it is paramount that dictionaries other than bilingual be introduced (pp 136-137) so that other types of vocabulary knowledge, aside from meaning discovery, are not neglected. Fan (2003) states that EAP learners in Hong Kong need a clearer understanding of what ‘word knowledge’ entails and that ‘dictionary skills and wider use of non-bilingual dictionaries needs to be encouraged’ (p 136). While there is insufficient data here to state definitively that Hong Kong learners over-rely on bilingual dictionaries, the high percentage of respondents who use dictionaries seems to reflect trend, which may be detrimental to their ability to think in English. With as many as 77% of EAP and 61% of GE respondents only rarely or sometimes reporting use of monolingual dictionaries, more training in use is indicated.
Another implication is that these learners may benefit from more training in metacognitive strategy use, such as setting achievable goals, choosing appropriate strategies, monitoring use, employing a combination of strategies, allocating time for vocabulary learning, self-testing and self-evaluation of the entire process. According to the findings of Rasekh and Ranjbary (2003), instruction in metacognitive strategy use positively impacts lexical knowledge (p 12). Though training may be difficult to implement initially, if learners can be taught to use and feel their positive impact, their lexical knowledge should increase. As Nation (2008) reminds, complex strategy usage is not learned quickly and needs to be practised frequently over time, with teachers playing a major role in demonstrating their use (p 77). Both Fan (2003, p 235) and Chamot (2005, p 121) mirror this view, stating that more learners might use strategies if teachers can help them see their relevance.
Finally, teachers should teach and demonstrate a variety of VLS to their learners in order to help them acquire as much vocabulary as possible. If learners are taught to make frequent use of deeper paradigmatic strategies when encountering a new word, or to consolidate understanding of a word already encountered, their ability to comprehend texts of increasing difficulty should improve. Indeed, the degree to which explicit teaching of VLS results in better learning and acquisition of vocabulary, as well as better understanding of complex texts, would be a topic worthy of further investigation.


Baxter, J. (1980). The dictionary and vocabulary behavior: A single word or a handful? TESOL Quarterly, 114 (3), 325-336.
Chamot, U. H. (2005). Language learning strategy instruction: current issues and research. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 25, 112–130: Cambridge University Press
Fan, M. Y. (2000). The dictionary look-up behaviour of Hong Kong students: a large scale survey. Education Journal, Vol. 28, No. I, Summer, 2000. The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Fan, M. Y. (2003). Frequency of use, perceived usefulness, and actual usefulness of second language vocabulary strategies: A study of Hong Kong learners.
Modern Language Journal, 87(2), 222–241
Gu, Y., & Johnson, R. K. (1996). Vocabulary learning strategies and language learning outcome. Language Learning, 46(4), 643-679
Gu, Y. (2003) Fine Brush and Freehand: The Vocabulary-Learning Art of Two Successful Chinese EFL Learners: TESOL QUARTERLY Vol. 37, No. 1, Spring
Nation, I.S.P. (2008) Teaching Vocabulary: strategies and techniques. Heinle. Cengage Learning: Boston
Oxford, R.L. (1990). Language Learning Strategies: What every teacher should know. Boston: Newbury House.
Oxford, R. Crookall, D. (1990) Vocabulary Learning: A Critical Analysis of Techniques.TESL Canada Journal. Vol. 7, No.2, March 1990
Razech, Z. E. & Ranjbary, R. (2003) Metacognitive Strategy Training for Vocabulary Learning. TESL-EJ. September, 03, Vol. 7. No. 2
Sanaoui, R. (1995) Adult Learners’ Approaches to Learning Vocabulary in Second Languages. Modern Language Journal, 79, (15-28)
Schmitt, N. (2000). Vocabulary in Language Teaching. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge
Wei, M. (2007) An examination of vocabulary learning of college-level learners of English in China. The Asian EFL Journal. Volume 9, Number 2