Gender Differences in the Effects of Explicit Vocabulary Learning Strategies Training


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


vocabulary learning strategies, gender, explicit instruction, vocabulary learning behavior, metacognitive strategies, cognitive strategies, memory strategies


Vocabulary knowledge is a building block in language learning, but many students struggle to learn new words regardless of their proficiency level. Various studies have demonstrated the efficacy of explicit instruction of vocabulary learning strategies (VLS). On the other hand, other studies have demonstrated that gender can affect a student’s use of language learning strategies including vocabulary learning strategies, and many of them have confirmed that females use a larger variety of strategies more often than their counterparts. The aim of this study was to shed light on gender difference as a variable for the influence of explicit VLS training. The participants were 109 Japanese EFL bioscience majors. They completed a questionnaire on vocabulary learning behavior before and after receiving explicit VLS training for 11 weeks. The questionnaire consisted of nine categories of items, two on metacognitive strategies, six on the use of cognitive and memory strategies, and one on overall use of VLS. The quantitative measures used a 5-point Likert scale and multiple-choice. The VLS training focused on four memory strategies, namely imagery, association, affix and grouping. The results from two-way repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) with VLS training and gender as factors revealed that VLS training was effective in enhancing the participants’ use of metacognitive strategies, writing rehearsal, and grouping strategy, although significant gender differences were observed for writing and grouping strategies. The students’ written comments gave us insight into their perception of these strategies. Gender difference was also observed in the overall use of strategies.