chapter  6
12 Pages

Second language vocabulary learning

Are students cognitive misers and, if so, why?
WithEmmanuel Manalo, Marcus Henning

The centrality of vocabulary acquisition in second language (L2) learning has been demonstrated in numerous research studies. Experimental studies have shown that effective L2 vocabulary learning strategies are those that entail deeper processing through form and meaning associations. The research and anecdotal evidence on the strategies that students use in learning L2 vocabulary brings up one important question: Why do many students spontaneously use poor strategies for learning? Even though explanations of human performance based on economic concepts assume that people are predisposed to avoid or minimize cognitive workload, they also suggest that the use of available resources is influenced by intended performance. Analysis of the students' test performance and responses to the questions asked revealed that a possible reason for the students' cognitive miserliness was a mismatch between the difficulty levels of the strategies they were using and the resulting test outcomes. Previous research has demonstrated the importance of motivation in all stages of the vocabulary learning process.