Learning English is a complex process, the critical aspect of which is acquiring a comprehensive vocabulary. The scholars studied a variety of strategies to help students learn independently, including through technology. Shamsan et al. (2021) studied online vocabulary learning strategies that Saudi students used during the COVID-19 pandemic for individual online learning. Scholars noted that students today have a wide variety of online platforms such as Blackboard, Zoom, YouTube, Moodle, Cisco, Instagram. They may also use mobile phones, online games, electronic flashcards, Quizlet platforms, Blackboard, social media platforms, and blended learning to obtain the vocabulary. They also mentioned five main learning strategies: determination strategies and social strategies are traditionally used to discover word meaning, while cognitive strategies and metacognitive strategies, social strategies, and memory strategies are used to consolidating a word meaning after it was first discovered.
According to Shamsan et al. (2021), learning strategies are essential because they allow the structured approach to the self-education process. As a rule, having an extensive vocabulary is a determining factor for understanding and playing a foreign language. The scholars determined that many foreign language school learners in Saudi Arabia do not have sufficient skills in speaking and writing. Therefore, they studied the students’ learning strategies to obtain vocabulary so that in the future, educators could use this information to support the students. One hundred nineteen students from the Saudi University of Bisha filled in the modified questionnaire and shared their strategies, used to understand new vocabulary, study new vocabulary, and revise vocabulary to keep it in memory.
The results showed that students mainly used Google Translate, bilingual dictionaries, or guessed the meaning during the online learning to include learned vocabulary to their repertoire. They also primarily used bilingual vocabularies to understand the meaning of the new words and study them repeatedly. The scholars recommended that educators should help students broaden their aptitude in learning strategies by including the vocabulary learning strategies subject in the university’s curriculum.
An et al. (2020) developed a tool to validate the self-directed use of technology learning and studied its potential effectiveness, adequacy, and necessity. The Technology-Based Self-Regulated English Learning Strategies Scale (TSELSS) was applied to validate English learning among Chinese university students. According to scholars, self-regulated learning is a complex process featuring “self-generated thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are oriented to attaining individuals’ personal goals” (An et al., 2020, p. 3). It is a dynamic process that has behavioral, motivational, affective, and cognitive components.
Therefore, the TSELSS scale aimed to evaluate this complex process. It measured self-regulated English learning strategies: “social strategies, motivational regulation strategies, goal-setting, and learning evaluation, technology-based vocabulary learning, and technology-based English song and movie learning” (An et al., 2020, p. 4). The scholars emphasized the importance of technology-based learning due to its flexible learning venues and good potential to impact the students’ motivation. Interestingly, motivation proved to be the main factor affecting learning achievements, according to the study results. Although the technology tools are handy for self-regulated learning, self-regulation itself requires making individual learning decisions. For example, what to learn, how to learn, how to adapt the learning strategies and plans, and the schedule of increasing the efforts.
Therefore, the scholars aimed to prove the high potential of self-regulated learning at the intersection with technology use and further study the strategies the students developed to enhance their efforts. They also recommended that educators should support students in their technology-based efforts with sound theoretical frameworks. Interestingly, An et al. (2020) mentioned the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) tool as an effective instrument measuring social, memory, cognitive, metacognitive, and determination strategies but suggested that this tool cannot be used in the framework of technology-based learning.
Alshammari (2020) studied the vocabulary learning strategies that Saudi Arabia students use to become efficient learners. The scholar was concerned about the low English proficiency scores for many school students in Saudi Arabia and set out to research optimal learning strategies to further educate students on effective individual learning. Therefore, Alshammari (2020) studied whether language learning strategies affected vocabulary strength and academic achievements and came to a positive conclusion in this regard.
The study participants were 85 Arabic speakers aged 19 to 24 years from first and second years of undergraduate programs in the Department of Language & Translation at Northern Border University, who completed the course in English vocabulary. They filled in the SILL questionnaire and a vocabulary test battery to share their experiences. The results showed the differences between the attitudes of high and low achievers: the former tended to use all the strategies equally well, and the latter focused solely on meta-cognitive and memory strategies. The scholar recommended the educators, trainers, material developers, and curriculum designers pay more attention to educating students on effective vocabulary learning strategies.
Noteworthy, the results showed that language learning strategies directly impact the vocabulary size of participants. Therefore, Alshammari (2020) concluded that vocabulary is the foundation for language learning. The results also proved the unfortunate tendency that Saudi tertiary students majoring in English generally have a small vocabulary size, not sufficient for comprehensive communication. Interestingly, the scholar found that when participants focused on one strategy, it brought poor results for improving the vocabulary size, and using all strategies guaranteed the improvement.
Ahmad Shamsan, M. A., Mohammed Ali, J. K., & Hezam, T. A. (2021). Online learning amid COVID-19 pandemic: A case study of vocabulary learning strategies. Arab World English Journal. Web.
Alshammari, S. R. (2020). EFL vocabulary learning strategies used by Saudi Arabia University students. Advanced Education, 7(16), 28-38. Web.
An, Z., Gan, Z., & Wang, C. (2020). Profiling Chinese EFL students’ technology-based self-regulated English learning strategies. PloS One, 15(10), 1-16. Web.