English Vocabulary Attrition of Young Chinese EFL Learners

Meifang Zhu, Jianping Xie


Language attrition, the reverse process of acquisition, is part of the field of language acquisition, and vocabulary is the first and most frequent linguistic unit that suffers attrition. Vocabulary attrition of young L2 learners deserves special attention because a successful language learning experience at the early stage facilitates learners’ later learning efficiency. However, research on young L2 learners’ vocabulary attrition seem scant in the current literature. Such being the case, this study investigates 72 Chinese primary school EFL learners’ English vocabulary attrition after an interval of a two-month summer recess through a repeated vocabulary test. Statistical results indicate that the young Chinese learners suffer significant attrition in vocabulary after the disuse of English during the holiday. In addition, verbs are found to be more vulnerable than nouns to attrition, but many words are partially remembered instead of being completely forgotten, as Retrieval Hypothesis proposed. Pedagogical implications for vocabulary teaching in Chinese primary schools and other similar L2 contexts are discussed.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijl.v11i3.14846

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