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Dynamic Vocabulary Development in a Foreign Language


Yongyan Zheng

The Dynamic Systems Theory perspective offers new lenses to probe into long-term foreign language development. This book reports on findings of a longitudinal multiple-case study on the vocabulary development of eight university-level Chinese learners of English. Framed within the Dynamic Systems framework, the study assumes a holistic perspective towards vocabulary knowledge and aims to project a comprehensive picture of vocabulary development in a typical foreign language learning setting such as the Chinese context. To this end, a wide array of quantitative measurements and qualitative methods was employed. In-depth examination was given to both psycholinguistic and sociocultural processes involved in the complex and dynamic development of vocabulary knowledge. Efforts were also made to establish meaningful links between the learners’ cognitive, mental, pedagogical and social contexts. Although the focus is on vocabulary development, what is discussed in the book is applicable to a wide range of topics in foreign language learning and development.


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Acknowledgements 11


Acknowledgements My gratitude first goes to the participants who agreed to join the one- year study. Without their help, this book would not have been possible. Many colleagues and friends have encouraged and helped me shape and develop the ideas contained in this book. I would like to acknowledge Professor Agnes Lam, Professor Steve Andrews, Dr. Lawrence Jun Zhang, and Dr. Yongyan Li for their conscientious reading of and valuable feedback on earlier drafts of the manuscript. I would also like to thank Professor Ken Hyland, Professor David Nunan, Dr. Vivian Berry, Dr. Yvonne Loong for their wonderful teaching. I am indebted to Prof. Yafu Gong, Dr. Xuesong Andy Gao, Dr. Citing Li, Dr. Wenfeng Wang, Dr. Xiao Lei, Dr. Jing Huang and former colleagues at the University of Hong Kong for the inspirational dialogues and intellectual stimuli during the research and writing pro- cess. My gratitude also goes to the editors at Peter Lang, without whose help I would not have seen this book in print. The Shanghai Municipal Philosophy and Social Sciences Program Office supported the research with Grant #2011EYY002. Needless to say, the remain- ing faults are entirely mine.

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