Explicit and implicit vocabulary learning: A comparative study based on EFL textbooks in Mainland China and Hong Kong


  • Xin Liu Shenzhen Foreign Languages School




textbook evaluation, vocabulary settings, explicit learning, implicit learning


Purpose The purpose of this study is to evaluate the vocabulary settings in two English textbooks used in Mainland China and Hong Kong respectively, and provide useful suggestions for teachers to choose or adapt English as a foreign language (EFL) textbook. The study centers on two English textbooks for grade-nine/ JS3 EFL learners in Mainland China and Hong Kong. Methods The two textbooks will firstly be compared and contrasted at the macro-level, covering perspectives such as organization, visual aids, glossary, and supplementary materials. Next, to study the treatment of vocabulary further at the micro-level, the study will focus on one unit in the two selected textbooks sharing the same theme. Results At the macro-level, the two textbooks are both clear and colored printed, theme-based, glossary included, visual aids provided, and practice given. They mainly differ in module components and word load in the glossary. At the micro-level, both of them give pre-teaching of new words before reading/listening, present words in context, provide scaffolding, follow a sequence of difficulty, integrate well with the development of other language skills, but they are different in some ways. Conclusion In terms of vocabulary treatment, results showed that both textbooks generally follow similar organization and presentation but differ in suggested teaching approaches. The textbook used in Mainland addresses on the word meaning while the textbook in Hong Kong follows a more implicit approach. In order to facilitate the evaluation of the vocabulary section in EFL textbooks, a new checklist and teaching implications for teachers are proposed in the thesis.

Author Biography

  • Xin Liu, Shenzhen Foreign Languages School

    Xin Liu is a high-school English teacher at Shenzhen Foreign Languages School in China. She holds a master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from The University of Hong Kong. Her research interest lies in EFL teaching, methodology, learning strategies, textbook evaluation, etc.


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Liu (2021)






Original Research

How to Cite

Liu, X. (2021). Explicit and implicit vocabulary learning: A comparative study based on EFL textbooks in Mainland China and Hong Kong. Journal of Language Teaching, 1(1), 7-16. https://doi.org/10.54475/jlt.v1i2.10

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