The Impact of Studying Abroad on the use of Vocabulary Learning Strategies among Saudi Master’s Students

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Studying aboard context has been widely acknowledged for supporting second language learning especially vocabulary learning due to the available of several opportunities like high frequency of native speaker interactions. Most of the second language researchers showed that studying abroad experiences can help in improving the vocabulary learning efficiency of second language learners. Despite the clear advantages of studying abroad experience, it is still unclear on whether this studying abroad experience could influence the choices of particular learning strategies made by the second language learners. This study has explored the perceptions of the Saudi students on their preferred vocabulary learning strategies while studying in the UK. A total of 53 students have given their preferences in terms of the vocabulary learning strategies that they have used in Saudi Arabia and those that are being currently used by them in the UK. The findings of this study revealed that Saudi students have adopted social strategies, determination strategies and guessing strategies to a great extent when learning vocabulary in Saudi Arabia. However, with the change in the learning environment from Saudi Arabia to UK classrooms, these students have been using determination strategy, but the preference given for cognitive and the meta-cognitive strategies have increased. The social strategy used by Saudi students in Saudi Arabia was related to searching internet, but in UK, this changed to having frequent interaction with the native speakers. The cognitive strategy preferred by Saudi students in Saudi Arabia was related to guessing the word based on knowledge, nut in UK, this strategy remained same and in addition to it, translation using English to Arabic dictionary was preferred. The access to the interactions with native speakers and exposure to different places of speaking English made Saudi students to give preference for cognitive and meta-cognitive strategies of vocabulary learning. Based on these results, this study recommends the strategies for teaching and learning vocabulary using wide range of approaches and recommends the use of interviews and observations as part of future work of this study.