L2 Vocabulary Acquisition: Investigating the Key to Lexical Comprehension
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L2 researchers have debated the significance of the lexicon in addition to the relevance of acquiring syntax, in the learning of an L2. (Huckin et.al, 1993; Haastrup, 1991) and other researchers in the field of SLA recognize the fact that learners' knowledge of words from context assists them in the comprehension of unfamiliar words that they encounter in their reading materials. Academic reading materials tend to be cognitively demanding and often require language in which contextual cues for meaning are reduced. Research in lexical acquisition has gained significant grounds lately, comparable to that of studies in the acquisition of syntax, which have played a prominent role in SLA.This study investigates the strategies employed by L2 learners towards their lexical development. It specifically addresses questions such as:Do learners acquire vocabulary through guessing from meaning?Do they retain the new words learnt in phrases?Do they employ the use of dictionaries?How significant do they consider the acquiring of vocabulary in their L2 learning?What are the strategies employed by the learners to gain a broader vocabulary?Tests that attempt to measure the learners' vocabulary competence were administered to 70 students from the Foundation Program at Curtin University of Technology, Sarawak Campus. In addition, questionnaires elicited numerous responses in their approach to lexical acquisition. This study provides a framework for a discussion of the various aspects of vocabulary acquisition among L2 learners. The findings from the analyses of the tests designate that vocabulary learning occurs through extensive reading and that learners with prior vocabulary knowledge often used topic knowledge and clues to understand unknown words from context, among other facts.
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