VARGA Chinese Sources

This page is an extension of the main VARGA pages. It includes a number of sources which were originally published in Chinese. This page is not yet a comprehensive survey of contemporary Chinese vocabulary research, but our intention is to build up enough material that the main trends in Chinese vocabulary research will become available to Western researchers.
This site is maintained by Paul Meara and Yixin Wang-Taylor.
The site is not yet searchable using the VARGA search engine.



Luo, H.

Review of research on L2 vocabulary acquisition. Foreign Language Education 29,2(2008), 46-50.

Luo provides a brief review of research on L2 vocabulary acquisition in the last thirty years. Firstly, the author discusses the change of the position of L2 vocabulary acquisition in the second language acquisition. Secondly, Luo summarises different definitions of knowing a word, such as Richard’s eight assumptions, National’s vocabulary framework, Paribakht and Wesche’s vocabulary knowledge scale and Coady’s three types of vocabulary knowledge. Thirdly, Luo provides a review on theoretical research on L2 vocabulary acquisition. This includes Kroll and Steward’s Revised Hierarchy Model, De Bot, Paribakht and Wesche’s vocabulary processing model and Jiang’s psycholinguistic model. This is followed by a review on experimental research on L2 vocabulary acquisition, especially on incidental vocabulary acquisition and vocabulary learning strategies. Finally, Luo believes that, with the inclusion of cognitive linguistics, vocabulary research has a promising future.


Dong Y

Discussion on issues in language attrition research. Journal Beijing University of Chemical Technology (Social Science Edition) 4(2012), 63-68.

Dong discusses some issues in defining language attrition. He points out that language attrition is often confused with language loss, language shift and aphasia. Language attrition is best defined as a type of non-pathological and intragenerational language loss that happens individually. Dong proposes that five features should be considered in order to distinguish forgetting from language attrition: the theoretical context (linguistic or psychological), the research content (much of the forgetting research deals with meaningless syllables, whereas attrition research is concerned with real words), the time span between learning and loss (short-term in the forgetting studies, but long-term in attrition studies), how the loss is evaluated (learners fail to acquire words, but mature speakers lose words which were previously well-learned) and the method of assessing loss (forgetting is usually assessed using quantitative methods, whereas attrition is usually assessed using a mixed methods approach). The relationship between language acquisition and language attrition is discussed, and Dong suggests that dynamic systems theory should be used when studying these two features. Only in this way can language acquisition and attrition be treated as a single issue, rather than as two separate sets of phenomena.


Lin, Y.

A survey of senior high students’ English vocabulary knowledge (Master’s thesis). Retrieved from Wanfang Data (2012), DOI: 10.7666/d.y2078420

In this thesis, Lin aims to explore how well Chinese senior high school students have mastered English words they have learnt and the extent of their meta-vocabulary knowledge. 150 participants from three local senior high schools participated the study. A self-reported questionnaire concerning four general aspects (“sound”, “form”, “meaning” and “use”) of meta-vocabulary knowledge was developed to assess their meta-vocabulary knowledge. A word association test and a revised Vocabulary Knowledge Scale (VKS) test were used to assess the prticiapnts' depth of vocabulary knowledge. Results show that scores for students’ meta-vocabulary knowledge of “form” (3.84) and “meaning” (3.89) are generally better than “sound” (3.48) and “use” (3.45), which reflects the fact that Chinese learners spend more time on reading and writing than on listening and speaking. The average scores for the word association test and the revised VKS test are both less than 60% of the total score. Lin considers this averge score to be unsatisfactory. Significant correlations between the meta-vocabulary knowledge questionnaire and two measures of depth of vocabulary knowledge (r=0.321 with the word association test, and r=0.445 with VKS) suggest that students’ meta-vocabulary knowledge can influence their learning of the depth of vocabulary knowledge. Lin therefore concludes that if learners have a relatively good mastery of the meta-vocabulary knowledge, they might be able to use this knowledge to guide their language learning.

Wu G

Features of the developing process of the productive vocabulary of Chinese English learners at tertiary level - Corpus based. Journal of Chongqing University of Posts and Telecommunications (Social Science Edition) 5(2012), 133-140.

Wu collected a set of 240 essays written by L1_Chinese learners of English, 60 essays from each of four years at University Level. The essays were analysed in terms of vocabulary range, vocabulary richness and diversity (to assess vocabulary breadth), morpho-syntax and semantics (to measure vocabulary depth) and vocabulary frequency and diversity of lexical bundles (to measure lexical fluency).Wu reports changes in all these measures across the four years, with particularly strong improvements in Yr 1 and Yr 2. Three phases of improvement are identified: a rapid growth phase, a transitional phase and a consolidation phase. The rapid growth phase usually occurs during years 1 and 2, and is especially obvious in the vocabulary breadth measures; in the transitional phase, vocabulary breadth increases less quickly, but measures of depth show an increase. The consolidation phase, usually occurring in Yr 4, is associated with rapid growth in the measures of fluency.


Liu J

Features of the development of the productive vocabulary. Journal of Heilongjiang College of Education 33(2014), 137-138.

Liu conducts a range of vocabulary tests among students from four years at university level, with an aim to investigate students' productive vocabulary ability, receptive vocabulary size, productive vocabulary size and the depth of vocabulary knowledge. The results show that, in terms of the productive vocabulary ability, the 2nd year students achieve the highest scores, followed by the 3rd year students. The 4th year students achieve the lowest scores. The 1st year students achieve a relatively low scores but higher than the 2nd year students. Liu concludes that this is because the 1st year students are still used to their high school English studying mode dominated by the grammar and the reading comprehension and therefore lack of understanding on the context and the vocabulary collocation. After passing the compulsory National Level 4 and Level 6 tests on the 2nd year, students gradually lose their English studying motivation. The author claims that the unbalanced knowledge in the vocabulary size and the depth is a classic feature of the development of the productive vocabulary among students at senior level in Chinese studying context.

Wen, W.

Assessing the roles of breadth and depth of vocabulary knowledge in Chinese EFL learners’ listening comprehension. Chinese Journal of Applied Linguistics 37,3(2014), 358-372.

This study investigates the effects of the breadth and the depth of vocabulary knowledge on Chinese EFL learners’ listening comprehension. The Vocabulary Levels Test (VLT) was used to measure the breadth of participants’ vocabulary knowledge. The Depth of Vocabulary Knowledge Test (DVKT) and a self-made Morphological Knowledge Test (MKT) were used to measure the depth of participants’ vocabulary knowledge. These three tests were administered to 150 Chinese non-English major students. Participants’ listening comprehension was measured by their listening scores obtained from the College English Test (CET) 4. Correlation and regression analysis were used to analysis the data. Results show that all three tests showed significant correlations with listening comprehension. However, VLT achieves the highest correlation coefficient with participants’ listening comprehension (r=.495, p<.01). Similar results were also found with regression analysis. Compared with other tests, VLT explained the most variance (24.5%) of participants listening comprehension. The author therefore concludes that the breadth of vocabulary forms the basic dimension of the vocabulary knowledge in listening comprehension. Depth of vocabulary knowledge mkes only a small contribution to listening comprehension.

Yang N

The framework of metaphorical competence and vocabulary acquisition Foreign languages research 2(2014), 7-12.

Yang notes that previous research suggests that the development of L2 vocabulary acquisition needs to go through three stages: a formal stage (learners rely on L1 lexeme structure to remember L2 lexeme structure); a lemma mediation stage (L2 lexeme structure and L1 lemma structure can be activated at the same time); and an integration stage (a direct link between L2 lexeme structure and L2 lemma structure is established). Yang's view is that this framework can be made more explanatory with the inclusion of metaphorical competence. At the initial stage, learners need to employ metaphorical competence to build the connection between L1 lexeme structure and L2 lexeme structure. At the second stage, when establishing L2 lemma structure, metaphorical competence is used to copy L1 lemma structure. At the final stage, metaphorical competence helps to consolidate the relationship between L2 lemma structure and L1 lemma.


Yi B

Lexical psycholinguistic features and their effect on L2 writing performance. Foreign Language Education 37,3(2016), 56-60

Yi examines how lexical psycholinguistic features vary as L2 writing improves, and whether these features will influence the fluency, the accuracy and the complexity of L2 writing performance. The "psycholingustic features" examined in this study include age of acquisition, lexical concreteness meaningfulness and familiarity. Yi collected a set of written essays from 23 advanced L1_Chinese learnes of English. Every two weeks, these students were asked to write a timed essay. Essays from the 1st week, the 7th week and the 13th week were analysed in this study, using the features listed above. the Results show that at the beginning of the semester, students tend to use words that are acquired in the early stages of their English study. More words acquired at the later stage of their English study appear in their writings at the end of the semester. In contrast, both the concreteness and meaningfulness of words decrease when students' L2 English proficiency improves. Familiarity does not appear to change as proficiency improves. Based on a regression analysis, Yi concludes that lexical psycholinguistic features are connected with the accuracy, the fluency and the lexical complexity, but not with syntactic complexity of the texts.

Yu H and Dai W

Visualisation analysis for L2 vocabulary acquisition development abroad - based on the Social Network Analysis. Foreign Language World 5(2016), 52-60.

The purpose of this study is to identify the developmental features of L2 vocabulary acquisition research published outside China between 1980 and 2015. The analysis focusses the research topics and research methods used in these papers. Authors employ Social Network Analysis method and collect a total of 396 articles published in high-ranking linguistics journals listed in the Web of Science. Two variables, the frequency of key words and the shared key words, are used to visualise the features for vocabulary research topics at three periods: 1980-2000, 2000-2010 and 2011-2015. Based on the results of the key words frequency list and the shared key words net graphs, authors conclude that between 1980 and 2000, the vocabulary research was at the beginning stage when the focus was mainly on vocabulary learning strategies, children’s vocabulary and incidental vocabulary learning. The second period saw the development of vocabulary research as an interdisciplinary subject. Vocabulary studies were combined with other subjects such as cognition analysis, psycholinguistics, corpus linguistics and social cultural theories. The results were closely tied with pedagogical methods. Apart from using interdisciplinary methods, the vocabulary research started absorbing new theories, such as Dynamic Systems Theory, in the third period. Further, the participants were no longer limited to children and school students, but included learners at all levels and different age groups. In terms of the research methods, the experiment designs and statistical methods were limited in the first period and most of the studies were based on quantitative analysis. During the second period, the experimental designs and statistical methods were more varied. This period also saw the start of the use of qualitative research methods and the use of combined qualitative and quantitative research methods. This trend continued to grow during the last period, 2011-2015. Authors conclude that the L2 vocabulary acquisition research methods started from limited qualitative or quantitative research method to a combined method. There is also a diversity in research designs and statistical methods.

Zhang X, Zhang Y and Ren X

Research on Chinese students' infrequent usage of English frequent verbs - corpus based. Journal of Hunan Institute of Engineering 26,2(2016), 42-47.

Comparing two corpora, the CLEC (Chinese Learner English Corpus) and the LOCNESS (The Louvain Corpus of Native English Essay), Authors identify 15 verbs (represent, argue, involve, allow, discuss, create, support, remain, continue, show, accept, explain, force, believe and act) that are frequently used by English native speakers but not by Chinese students. They analyse this situation in terms of four dimensions of vocabulary knowledge (vocabulary breadth, depth, accuracy of use and automaticity). All fifteen words are high frequency items that the students ought to know, so authors conclude that lack of vocabulary depth, poor command of vocabulary use and lack of automaticity is what stops students from using these words frequently and confidence.


Zhou D

Experimental study on L2 vocabulary learning strategies. Journal of Anhui Vocational College of Electronics and Information Technology 16,3(2017), 76-78, 82.

Zhou reports an empirical study of 111 vocational college students and their vocabulary learning strategies. Each participant was asked to report:the strategies they used in learning new words; the most frequent strategies they used in memorising a word’s meaning once it is known; their learning habits; their understanding on the function of “test/retrieval”; and whether they used repetitive test/retrieval during their learning activity. Results show that most respondents prefer to use reading and writing methods to learn new words (79%) and use repetition methods to consolidate their memory (78%). In terms of learning habits, about 72% of the participants rarely make study plans and only 24% of the students are willing to spend time learning vocabulary. The majority do not believe that test/retrieval is an effective way for vocabulary learning. Few students use repetitive test/retrieval methods during their learning.

©2018 Paul Meara and Yixin Wang-Taylor