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Strategic Vocabulary Learning in the Swedish Second Language Context

Doctoral thesis
Authors Richard LaBontee
Date of public defense 2019-03-16
ISBN 978-91-87850-72-1
Publisher Göteborgs universitet
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Swedish
Language en
Keywords Second Language Acquisition, Vocabulary Learning Strategies, Questionnaire Instrumentation
Subject categories Swedish language


This large-scale research project represents an exploratory investigation into the reported vocabulary learning strategies (VLS) used by adult, beginner Swedish L2 learners living and studying in Sweden. A questionnaire instrument, the Swedish Vocabulary Learning Strategy Survey (SVLSS) built explicitly for data collection in this context is developed and used over the course of five studies regarding learners’ approaches to Swedish L2 vocabulary learning. Results from the first study are used to establish a preliminary item list for the SVLSS from collected interview and learning task data. Pilot results (SVLSS 1.0, 1.1) guide revisions to access- ibility, readability, and item list, resulting in a 74-item questionnaire (SVLSS 1.2). The second study adopts a six-category VLS taxonomy for the instrument that is extracted through the guidance of exploratory factor analysis. Findings are used to conduct revisions aimed at supporting the adopted taxonomy, and again to improve accessibility, and readability. The third study situates the SVLSS instrument within a comparative review of other VLS questionnaires, guiding extended revisions started in study two. Revision results in the acceptance of an updated VLS taxonomy, and in the 69-item SVLSS (2.0). The fourth study explores what the target demographic believes it means ‘to know a word’ as a means of better these learners’ vocabulary learning experience. The fifth study uses the SVLSS 2.0 to explore possible patterns in learners’ VLS use across demographic grouping variables, offering two emergent learner profiles. Findings across these studies indicate that adult, beginner learners of Swedish L2 vocabulary report using strategies for establishing new word information more than any other VLS type, suggesting that the need to acquire vocabulary knowledge before it can be used in other strategic manners is high for this demographic. Also, significant differences between learners’ use of VLS are seen even amongst relatively minor differences in learners’ beginner proficiency levels, adult age groups, and amounts of time spent learning the language. A synthesis of findings suggest that these learners value communicative practices for learning words, though may not be able to reflect this in their learning behavior at earlier levels of Swedish. This report concludes with suggested use guidelines and planned updates for the SVLSS instrument, as well as suggested and planned future research for the field of Swedish L2 VLS use.

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