VLI 9(1): Paton (2020)

Introducing Mnemonics to Japanese Students as a Vocabulary Learning Strategy
Stephen Paton
Fukuoka University
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7820/vli.v09.1.paton
Download this article (pdf)

Mnemonic strategies are not often utilised by Japanese students to
learn and consolidate vocabulary, despite research showing that they
are particularly effective. As part of an informal action research process,
a structured lesson plan was devised that would introduce mnemonic
strategies indirectly, that is, not by applying them directly to
second-language vocabulary study from the outset, but instead as a
means of memorising simple word/number pairings in something of a
game. The strategy’s applicability to vocabulary study was shown only
after it had been witnessed and practised by the students. This lesson
was given in numerous classes from a variety of academic disciplines.
A survey of the students (n = 361) was later carried out to ascertain
whether despite its initially bypassing second-language concerns and
complications, the lesson had been effective in introducing mnemonics
as a vocabulary learning strategy that the students might choose to
utilise in an upcoming programme of vocabulary learning and testing.
Responses indicated that the lesson had been highly effective and that
students in similar contexts might benefit from being introduced to
mnemonics in such a way.

Paton S. (2020). Introducing mnemonics to Japanese students as a vocabulary learning strategy. Vocabulary Learning and Instruction, 9 (1), 80–93. https://doi.org/10.7820/vli.v09.1.paton

VLI 9(1): Allen (2020b)

A Procedure for Determining Japanese Loanword Status for English Words
David Allen
Ochanomizu University
Download this article (pdf)

Japanese loanwords are mainly derived from English. These loanwords provide a considerable first-language (L1) resource that may assist in second-language (L2) vocabulary learning and instruction. However, given the huge number of loanwords, it is often difficult to determine whether an English word has a loanword equivalent and whether the loanword is likely to be widely known among the Japanese. This article demonstrates an efficient method of answering these two questions. The method employs corpus frequency data from the Balanced Corpus of Contemporary Written Japanese, from which the existence and frequency of loanwords in Japanese can be determined. Following the guidelines presented herein, researchers will be able to use data from the corpus themselves to check cognate frequency, thereby determining the cognate status of items used in research.

Japanese loanwords; Japanese-English cognates; loanword frequency; cognate frequency; different-script cognates

Allen, D. (2020). A procedure for determining Japanese loanword status for English words. Vocabulary Learning and Instruction, 9 (1), 73–79. https://doi.org/10.7820/vli.v09.1.Allen.b

VLI 9(1): Stubbe & Nakashima (2020)

Examining Katakana Synform Errors Made by Japanese University Students
Raymond Stubbe (a) and Kosuke Nakashima (b)
(a) Nagasaki University; (b) Hiroshima Institute of Technology
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7820/vli.v09.1.stubbe.nakashima
Download this article (pdf)

Laufer (1988) introduced the concept of synform errors, where second
language (L2) learners confuse a word for a different but similar looking
or sounding L2 word. Stubbe and Cochrane (2016) reported that of
1,187 commonly repeated errors on a Japanese to English non-contextual
translation test, 461 were synform errors (39%). This study introduces
the concept of katakana consonant pairing synform errors, where
Japanese learners of English can confuse one English word for another
because some English consonants have no Japanese equivalent, for example,
l and v. Words containing these consonants can be transcribed
into katakana using the closest Japanese consonant sound: r, b, respectively.
This can result in katakana pairings (l-r, v-b), which may lead
to confusion for the Japanese learners. “Vest” may be interpreted as
“best,” for instance. In the present study, English students at one Japanese
university (N = 235) were given a Japanese to English non-contextual
translation test containing the lower frequency member of 30 such
katakana pairs (“vest” being a much less frequent word than its pair
“best,” for instance). Thirty words not having a katakana partner (e.g.,
shade) from the same JACET8000 frequency levels were also tested. The
study results suggest that katakana consonant pairing synform errors are
problematic for these Japanese university students. Implications for the
classroom and vocabulary assessment are presented.

translation test; synform errors; katakana; Japanese EFL learners

Stubbe, R. and Nakashima, K. (2020). Examining katakana synform errors made by Japanese university students. Vocabulary Learning and Instruction, 9 (1), 62–72. https://doi.org/10.7820/vli.v09.1.stubbe.nakashima

VLI 9(1): Therova (2020)

General Word Lists: Overview and Evaluation
Dana Therova
The Open University
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7820/vli.v09.1.therova
Download this article (pdf)

Vocabulary learning is unarguably one of the sub-goals in every language classroom. The learning and teaching of vocabulary have been transformed by the development of general word lists, providing compilations of the most prevalent vocabulary items used in everyday contexts. These lists have made an invaluable contribution to the field of applied linguistics in terms of both research and pedagogy; they have assisted the learning, teaching and testing of vocabulary; and they have also been widely used in materials development and vocabulary research. However, if they are to be utilised effectively, it is important to understand the characteristics of these word lists. Thus, this article offers a review of the various general word lists presently available with the aim of assisting English as a Foreign Language (EFL)/English as a Second Language (ESL) practitioners in making informed decisions regarding the choice and utility of these word lists in their practices.

Therova, D (2020). General word lists: Overview and evaluation. Vocabulary Learning and Instruction, 9 (1), 51–61. https://doi.org/10.7820/vli.v09.1.therova

VLI 9(1): Allen (2020a)

An Overview and Synthesis of Research on English Loanwords in Japanese
David Allen
Ochanomizu University
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7820/vli.v09.1.Allen.a
Download this article (pdf)

Loanwords in Japanese that share form and meaning with English words are referred to as Japanese-English cognates (e.g., ラジオ /radӡio/ “radio”) and are of fundamental concern for researchers concerned with vocabulary learning and instruction. This concern is reflected in the growing body of research into Japanese-English cognates in applied linguistics, which has addressed a wide range of questions in different contexts and with various methodologies. However, the research relevant to applied linguists appears not only in various domestic and international learning- and teaching-focused publications, but also in the feeder disciplines of linguistics, sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics. Consequently, identifying published research on Japanese-English cognates presents a considerable challenge for the applied linguist, which may in turn hinder progression in the field. Therefore, this article reports a comprehensive yet non-exhaustive literature search, which yielded a corpus of 130 research publications, for which a full reference list is provided. Furthermore, an overview and synthesis of the research is given, illustrating how cognates are typically treated in the feeder disciplines and in studies focusing on language learning and/or teaching, and assessment. Based on this synthesis, the following key areas for future research are identified: learners’ identification and use of cognates in English, their knowledge of loanwords in Japanese, their attitudes and beliefs towards cognates, researchers’ categorisation of cognates, whether classroom teaching approaches to cognates impact learning outcomes, and the extent of the cognate advantage in a range of assessment formats.

loanword; cognate; Japanese-English; gairaigo; overview; synthesis

Allen, D. (2020). An overview and synthesis of research on English loanwords in Japanese. Vocabulary Learning and Instruction, 9 (1), 33–50. https://doi.org/10.7820/vli.v09.1.Allen.a

VLI 9(1): Meara (2020)

The Emergence of a First Paradigm in Vocabulary Research: The Bibliometrics of System
Paul Meara
Swansea University
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7820/vli.v09.1.meara
Download this article (pdf)

This paper uses a bibliometric method to analyse the vocabulary research published in the journal System between 1976 and 2017. The bibliometric method used here is co-citation analysis, an approach which allows us to map the influences that have significantly impacted on vocabulary research. The analysis is intended to expand on an earlier analysis by Lei and Liu (2019), which studied the outputs in System but also analyses the features of all the papers published in the journal. This paper identifies five main clusters in the System data set. It also reports how these clusters grow and change over time. It argues that the data point to the emergence of a first paradigm in vocabulary research (Kuhn, 1971), and suggests some ways in which this paradigm might shift in response to demographic changes among the researchers who publish in System.

Paul Meara. (2020). The emergence of a first paradigm in vocabulary research: The bibliometrics of System. Vocabulary Learning and Instruction, 9 (1), 1–32. https://doi.org/10.7820/vli.v09.1.meara

VLI 7(1): Brown (2018)

Examining the Word Family through Word Lists
Dale Brown
Kanazawa University
doi: https://doi.org/10.7820/vli.v07.1.brown
Download this article (pdf)

The choice of lexical unit has important consequences for L2 vocabulary
research, testing and instruction. In recent years, the most widely
used lexical unit has been the word family. This study examines the
characteristics of word lists based on the word family and explores the
levels of text coverage such lists may provide should the assumption
that learners can deal with word families be incorrect. This is pursued
through the detailed examination of a set of word-family-based word
lists. The study finds that such word lists pose a number of challenges,
including the number of word forms with multiple affixes, the number
of word forms with more challenging affixes, and the number of word
families in which the base word is not the most frequently occurring
member. Moreover, the first thousand word families in particular are
shown to be challenging. The study then demonstrates that if learners
are unable to deal with the complexity of word families, even to a relatively
small degree, word-family-based lists may provide far lower text
coverage levels than may be assumed. It concludes that in work on second
language vocabulary, careful consideration is needed of the appropriacy
of the word family as the lexical unit and highlights the range of
work based on the word family that may need reevaluating.

lexical unit, word families, word lists, text coverage

Brown, D. (2018). Examining the word family through word lists. Vocabulary Learning and Instruction, 7 (1), 51–65. doi: 10.7820/vli.v07.1.brown

VLI 7(1): Mueller (2018)

An Experimental Investigation of HAM, a Novel Mnemonic Technique for Learning L2 Homonyms and Homophones
Charles M. Mueller
Fuji Women’s University
Download this article (pdf)

Over the past 40 years, extensive research has examined the effectiveness of mnemonics for vocabulary learning. Much of this research has investigated the keyword method (Atkinson & Raugh, 1975), which involves linking an image related to a to-be-learned L2 word with an image related to a similar-sounding L1 word. Whereas most research has shown the keyword method to be effective (Webb & Nation, 2017) with impressive long-term retention rates (Beaton, Gruneberg, & Ellis, 1995), some have questioned its usefulness, particularly due to the quality of the resulting lexical representations and extended latencies associated with recall (Barcroft, Sommers, & Sunderman, 2011; Van Hell & Candia Mahn, 1997). Other drawbacks of the keyword technique are the equating of dissimilar L1 and L2 phonemes and the difficulty in creating associations for languages with markedly different phoneme inventories. The current study presents a novel approach called the Homonym/Homophone Association Method (HAM). It overcomes some of the drawbacks of the keyword method by associating meanings of L2 homonyms or homophones, one known by the learner and one unknown. Because the pronunciations of the L2 target words are identical (or nearly identical), learners only need to associate two distinct meanings. A quasi-experiment (N = 71) employing a within-subjects design compared the effectiveness of (1) HAM using researcher-generated associations and images, (2) HAM using self-generated associations, and (3) production practice that involved writing target words in sentences. Results on an unannounced posttest given 3 weeks after instruction suggest an advantage for HAM using researcher-generated associations.

HAM; keyword method; homonyms; homophones; vocabulary learning; mnemonics; puns; humor

Mueller, C. M. (2018). An experimental investigation of HAM, a novel mnemonic technique for learning L2 homonyms and homophones. Vocabulary Learning and Instruction, 7 (1), 35–50. https://doi.org/10.7820/vli.v07.1.mueller

VLI 7 (1): Alahmadi, Shank, & Foltz (2018)

Vocabulary Learning Strategies and Vocabulary Size: Insights from Educational Level and Learner Styles
Alaa Alahmadi (a), Christopher Shank (a), and Anouschka Foltz (b)
(a) Bangor University; (b) University of Graz
Download this article (pdf)

This study investigates the effect of different vocabulary learning strategies
(VLS) as well as different learner styles on vocabulary size in Saudi
Arabic-speaking students in higher education. The goals of this study were
to examine which VLS undergraduates used more frequently than postgraduates
and vice versa, to determine which VLS related positively and
significantly to vocabulary size, and to explore individual learner styles
and their relationship to vocabulary size. Participants filled in a VLS questionnaire
and completed a vocabulary size test. The results indicated that
undergraduates tended to use simpler strategies than postgraduates. The
strategies of guessing a word’s meaning from context and watching television
related positively with vocabulary size in both groups. Clustering analysis
revealed two learner groups which differed in how frequently they used
VLS overall, rather than in terms of which VLS they preferred. Those students
who used more VLS overall also had larger vocabulary sizes, irrespective
of educational level. We thus found no evidence for differences
in individual learner styles in the current groups. We conclude that VLS
usage should be encouraged overall, but that the need for instructors to
cater to individual vocabulary learning styles may not be warranted.

vocabulary acquisition; vocabulary learning strategies; vocabulary size; postgraduates; Arabic learners of English

Alahmadi et al. (2018). Vocabulary learning strategies and vocabulary size: Insights from educational level and learner styles. Vocabulary Learning and Instruction, 7 (1), 14–34. https:/doi.org/10.7820/vli.v07.1.alahmadi

VLI 7(1): Kanayama & Kasahara (2018)

The Indirect Effects of Testing: Can Poor Performance in a Vocabulary Quiz Lead to Long-Term L2 Vocabulary Retention?
Kohei Kanayama (a) and Kiwamu Kasahara (b)
(a) Sapporo Otani High School; (b) Hokkaido University of Education
doi: https://doi.org/10.7820/vli.v07.1.kanayama.kasahara
Download this article (pdf)

Taking a test on learned items enhances long-term retention of these items. However, it is believed that good performance in a test contributes to subsequent high retention of the tested items while poor performance does not. Recent studies have sought to find the optimal way to make up for this poor performance, and have indicated that giving the subsequent learning session soon after the test is one such way. This study is different from previous studies in that we used L1–L2 word pairs to examine whether restudying immediately after the failure in the test is useful for long-term retention. First, in the initial study session, all the participants (n = 52) were shown and asked to remember 20 English and Japanese word pairs (e.g., deceit:詐欺). A week later, Group A took the first test session (Initial Test) before the restudy session. On the contrary, Group B took the restudy session before the Initial Test. An hour after this session, both groups took Posttest 1. Then, Posttest 2 was conducted a week after Posttest 1. The results showed that Group A had significantly lower scores than Group B in the Initial Test (2% vs. 55%). However, the results were reversed in Posttest 1 (84.2% vs. 53.2%) and Posttest 2 (55% vs. 43.5%). This study found that a restudy session soon after poor performance in the Initial Test enhanced long-term L2 vocabulary retention because learners benefited from the indirect effects of testing. Thus, English teachers should take such effects into consideration when organizing vocabulary quizzes and restudy sessions.

Kanayama, K. & Kasahara, K. (2018). The indirect effects of testing: Can poor performance in a vocabulary quiz lead to long-term L2 vocabulary retention? Vocabulary Learning and Instruction, 7 (1), 1–13. doi: 10.7820/vli.v07.1.kanayama.kasahara

VLI 8(1): Larson-Hall (2019)

Vocabulary Instruction and Learning: A Commentary on Four Studies
Jenifer Larson-Hall
University of Kitakyushu
Download this article (pdf)

Four papers were presented by Shusaku Kida, Magda Kitano
and KatsuhiroChiba, Tim Stoeckel, and Raymond Stubbe. In this article,
my thoughts about the issues raised in these thought-provoking
papers about vocabulary resource processing allocation and the Type of
Processing Resource Allocation (TOPRA) model, the use of flashcards
in vocabulary learning, an empirical evaluation of the New General
Service List (NGSL), and the use of yes–no checklists for multi-word
units are given. The first paper provided some theoretical underpinnings
for thinking about vocabulary acquisition, while the last three papers
were valuable for their extremely timely and practical examination
of issues that are highly important for the acquisition of vocabulary.

Larson-Hall, J. (2019). Vocabulary Instruction and Learning: A Commentary on Four Studies. Vocabulary Learning and Instruction, 8 (1), 83–95. doi: 10.7820/vli.v08.1.larson-hall