Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia
Successful language learning depends crucially on a strong vocabulary. It is estimated that a vocabulary of 8000 word families is the necessary goal for English language learners who have to deal with unsimplified spoken and written texts. This study examined the English vocabulary size and vocabulary learning strategies of Mengubah Destini Anak Bangsa (MDAB) pre-diploma students at the Segamat Campus of Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Johor. While some of these students had intermediate English language proficiency, the majority of them had low language proficiency. Data for the study were collected in three stages. Firstly, a Vocabulary Size Test was conducted to determine the students’ vocabulary size. Secondly, a Vocabulary Learning Strategies Questionnaire was used to investigate the vocabulary learning strategies employed by the students. Finally, a semi-structured interview was carried out with eight students as a form of triangulation that supplements the findings gleaned from the Vocabulary Learning Strategies Questionnaire. The quantitative data from the first two instruments were analysed using descriptive statistics, while interview analysis was performed to analyse the qualitative data from the semi-structured interview. The findings revealed that only a very small number of the MDAB students had the desired vocabulary size of 8000 word families or more, and that they were medium users of vocabulary learning strategies. The findings on their vocabulary size suggest that many of them may not be lexically well equipped to successfully undertake a diploma programme of their choice at UiTM which uses English as its medium of instruction. In addition, the results of this study imply that some systematic vocabulary instructions and vocabulary learning strategies training should be introduced to help them improve their English vocabulary size.
Intermediate language proficiency, low language proficiency, vocabulary, vocabulary learning strategies, vocabulary size