Teaching and Learning Vocabulary: What English Language Learners Perceive to Be Effective and Ineffective Strategies

  • Seyyed Hatam Tamimi Sa’d
  • Fereshte Rajabi
Keywords: EFL learners, strategies, target language, vocabulary learning, vocabulary teaching


Vocabulary constitutes an essential part of every language-learning endeavour and deserves scholarly attention. The objective of the present study was three-fold: 1) exploring Iranian English language learners’
Vocabulary Learning Strategies (VLSs), 2) examining language learners’ perceptions of vocabulary learning, and 3) exploring Iranian English language teachers’ Vocabulary Teaching Strategies (VTSs). In total, 145  intermediate learners of English as a foreign language, consisting of 114 males and 31 females aged 15 to 27, participated in the study. The triangulated data were collected using three tools: questionnaires, interviews, and class observations. Sixty-seven learners (31 females and 36 males) filled out a 56-statement questionnaire, adopted and adapted from Takač (2008) and translated into Persian. The questionnaire comprised two parts, enquiring as to the learners’ VLSs and the teachers’ VTSs. The findings indicated that females and males differed significantly in their reported VLSs and their teachers’ use of various VTSs. Additionally, 78 learners were interviewed as to their perceptions of effective and ineffective VLSs as well as VTSs. The findings revealed that the most effective VLSs were reported to be: a) reciting, repeating and listening to words, b) using words, and c) memorising words while the most effective VTSs revolved around: a) explanation, b) repetition, and c) dictation. The observations also confirmed the findings obtained via the questionnaire and interviews. In general, the findings are indicative of the limited repertoire of vocabulary acquisition techniques employed by Iranian EFL learners, hence the need for strategy training in how to acquire vocabulary. 


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