A corpus study of Chinese EFL learners’ use of circumstance, demand, and significant
An in-depth analysis of L2 vocabulary use and its implications
This study investigated Chinese EFL learners’ use of circumstance, demand, and significant, three challenging words each being a member in a synonym set: circumstance in the case/circumstance/event/situation set, demand in the ask/demand/request/require set, and significant in the important/meaningful/significant set. Via an expert rating and a close examination of all the uses of the three words in Wen, Wang, and Liang’s (2005) Spoken and Written English Corpus of Chinese Learners, the study has uncovered various inappropriate usages as well as successfully acquired usages involving the three words. The results reveal a failure by many Chinese EFL learners to understand the three words’ semantic usage differences with their respective synonyms. The study has also identified L1 interference, inadequate descriptions of these words in dictionaries, and insufficient instructional attention to the semantic usage differences among synonyms as likely reasons for the learners’ inappropriate usages. Pedagogical and research implications are also discussed.
Keywords: learner corpus, L1 interference, (near)-synonym, vocabulary learning
Published online: 27 August 2018
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