Lack of 'word power' a problem

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 January, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 January, 2000, 12:00am

A survey conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) indicates that many students believe a poor vocabulary is their biggest obstacle to mastering English.

More than 63 per cent of the students surveyed thought a limited vocabulary had hindered their writing process. They said this was their biggest problem in learning English.

About 61 per cent said they had trouble finding the right word to use while speaking and some 46 per cent attributed listening difficulties to not knowing enough words.

The survey also indicated that almost 64 per cent of the students had never received any formal training in vocabulary building.

Only 16.2 per cent said it had been given adequate attention in their major courses of studies.

About 27.7 per cent had a habit of increasing their 'word power' on their own. CUHK's English Language Teaching Unit surveyed 620 students in 1997.

Based on its findings, a course in vocabulary expansion was launched in September 1998.

More than 87 per cent of the students thought that taking the course would help them to communicate better with others and use words more appropriately.

The programme was designed to help students build and retain vocabulary through an independent approach.

In a five-week project, learners had to identify their own goals and work with a partner.

CUHK language instructor Maggie Chu Lai-ha said the course had enriched students' incidental vocabulary with strategies based on intentional learning.

'Lexical references, effective use of dictionaries and independent learning are important to our students,' she said.