Explicit Instruction of Memory Vocabulary Learning Strategies in an ESP Context


  • Kaoru Kobayashi Tokyo University of Agriculture
  • Andrea Little Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Sciences


vocabulary learning strategies, memory strategies, imagery, association, affix, grouping, ESP, explicit instruction


Recent studies have shown that proficient language learners make substantial use of vocabulary learning strategies (VLS). However, teaching VLS is not emphasized in English education in Japan. This is especially problematic when students are required to learn the technical terms of their field in university since those terms are usually low-frequency words that the students do not encounter when learning academic English. The present study examines the effectiveness of explicit VLS instruction for learning biology terms for Japanese students who major in biology. The study also investigates which VLS are suitable for these students in accordance with their vocabulary size. The instructed VLS in this study were all memory strategies: imagery, association, grouping, and a strategy using affixes. The results revealed that both students with smaller vocabulary sizes and those with larger vocabulary sizes were satisfied with explicit VLS instruction but that lack of vocabulary can hinder the use of some types of memory strategies. The study demonstrates the efficacy of explicit memory VLS instruction in ESP settings, especially the strategy using affixes and roots.

Author Biographies

  • Kaoru Kobayashi, Tokyo University of Agriculture
  • Andrea Little, Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Sciences