Available Projects

2. Acquisition of culturally-loaded lexical items in English or Chinese as a foreign language

Project duration:

10 weeks, start date: either Monday 18 Nov. or 25 Nov. 2019, 36 hrs  per wk


Appropriate use of lexical items is basic and central to successful communication. However, it is often taken for granted that people can use lexical items appropriately. When a lexical error is made, the intended meaning is in many cases difficult to recover (Gass, 1988). In fact, acquisition of the lexicon is known to be one of the most difficult parts of second language learning and second language learners tend to make more lexical errors than grammatical errors (Meara, 1984).

Of the various kinds of lexical errors that learners make, errors involving semantically similar lexical items appear to give learners particular difficulty (Bardovi-Harlig & Bofman, 1989). For example, see/look at and hear/listen to, learners are often confused in terms to which one should be used. In spite of learners’ reported difficulty in selecting the appropriate item for a given context from semantically similar lexical items, this area of research is scarce. Particularly when the lexical items are culturally-loaded, errors made can be offensive in intercultural communication.

 This proposed project is task oriented. The staff member will provide relevant literature for the research assistant to read initially and jointly work on the project. The successful applicant will be expected to do the following under supervision:

   • conduct literature review (week 1)

   • identify specific lexical items to be the focus of the study (week 2)

   • design research tools, e.g. a questionnaire survey (week 3)

   • data collection (week 4)

   • data analysis (week 5)

   • draft the article (week 6-7)

   • revise based on feedback (week 8)

   • identify an appropriate journal and send the manuscript out (week 9)

   • Reflect on the whole experience and draft suggestions for further research (week 10) 

Expected comes and deliverables:

The scholar will gain hands on experience in publishing a research paper from scratch.

The expected outcome is to co-author a paper with the staff member.

Suitable for:

MA students in Applied Linguistics or MACTI program who wish to pursue a PhD study in the future.

Further info: 

Please contact Dr Wendy Jiang via email