The use of verbal protocol analysis in L2 vocabulary acquisition patterns
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This paper reports on a study employing Verbal Protocol Analysis (VPA) to investigate patterns of English vocabulary inferencing strategies used by second language (L2) learners between Pre-receptive and Productive processes stages for vocabulary development in pedagogical contexts. Verbal report data from 41 (n=41) tertiary-level students were gathered to deduce the processes involved in selecting inferencing strategies by L2 learners during reading. The use of verbalisations or Think Aloud Protocol provided rich data in terms of quality and content. Using a grounded approach (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Strauss & Corbin, 1998) to data analysis, themes were teased out from the data which provide a look at how and what strategies are employed by L2 learners while reading. The study employed a mixed- method design applying a multi-dimensional approach for data gathering specifically for addressing different issues through a case study. Both concurrent and retrospective verbal protocols were gathered and were consequently transcribed, coded and evaluated for levels of understanding and strategy categorisation. These verbalisations offered insights into the cognitive learning processes of the L2 learners. The paper highlights how verbalisations inform strategy use. The study’s significance lies in its ability to raise awareness in learners to be aware of their own learning with regard to vocabulary development in tertiary L2 learning contexts.
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