Vocabulary and receptive skills



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Vocabulary and receptive skills

  • Which words contribute most to
  • listening and reading competence
  • for Dutch learners of English as a secondary
  • language?
  • Status:
  • Kick-off of research aiming to label English words
  • ‘A1’, ‘A2’, ‘B1’ or ‘B2+’ for testing and possibly teaching purposes

Incentive

  • Revision of VAS 2 test of English
  • Reading and vocabulary on three levels: BB, KBGT and HV
  • Which words
  • can year-2 students in BB, KBGT and HV be tested on?
  • > Aim for ± CEF A2 (BB: A1/A2 … HV: A2/B1)
  • > Waystage (van Ek, revised 1991)

Relevance of knowing words for L2 readers

  • Correlation
  • reading (and listening)  word knowledge,
  • especially at lower levels
  • Other correlations 
  • familiarity with subject matter (CEF)
  • (reading and listening) strategies,
  • probably more so at higher levels
  • syntax / grammar (disputed)

What is a word?

  • “The majority of the examples in the dictionary are
  • taken word for word from one of the texts in the
  • corpus.”
  • 21 words (tokens)
  • 14 different words (types): 5x the, 2x of, 2x in, 2x word
  • 13 lemmas: the, majority, of, example, in, dictionary, take, word, for, from, one, text, corpus
  • 13 word families
  • 12 function words
  • 9 content words

Word family

  • CONCLUDE
  • concluded, concludes, concluding III a foregone conclusion ?
  • conclusion III jump to conclusions ?
  • conclusive V in conclusion ?
  • conclusively VI conclude from ?
  • inconclusive V
  • His essay had a very weak …, which left a poor final impression on the reader.
  • Can we demonstrate … that the factory caused the pollution?
  • There was … evidence the two students had committed plagiarism, so they went free.
  • The author … the article by suggesting topics for further research.
  • From: www.pbs.plymouth.ac.uk/academicwordlistatuop/
  • I. 1 – 680 (680 words)
  • II. 680 – 1720 (1040 words) I and II: = 75% of all English usage
  • III. 1720 – 3300 (1580 words)
  • IV. 3300 – 6500 (3200 words)
  • V. 6500 - 14.600 (8100 words)
  • VI. 14.600 - … (all 20 million words of the corpus)

Input for labelling words

  • Breakthrough, Waystage, Threshold and Key English Test, Preliminary English Test
  • CEF(R)
  • BNC / Bank of English frequency lists
  • Teacher (expert) intuition
  • B2+
  • B1 1500 .
  • A2 900 .
  • A1 600

Breakthrough, Waystage, Threshold

  • Council of Europe Word Indexes for A1, A2, B1
  • (van Ek, 1978; revised 1991)
  • Lots of words to do with post, army, church, but no
  • e-mail, internet, cell phone
  • Too bad: poste-restante
  • thingummyjig
  • Recent vocabulary needed, frequency relevant
  • Cambridge KET (A2) and PET (B1) updated regularly

CEF on vocabulary Booklet p. 1

  • VOCABULARY RANGE
  • B2
  • Has a good range of vocabulary for matters connected to his/her field and most general topics. Can vary formulation to avoid frequent repetition, but lexical gaps can still cause hesitation and circumlocution.
  • B1
  • Has a sufficient vocabulary to express him/herself with some circumlocutions on most topics pertinent to his/her everyday life such as family, hobbies and interests, work, travel, and current events.
  • A2
  • Has sufficient vocabulary to conduct routine, everyday transactions involving familiar situations and topics.
  • Has a sufficient vocabulary for the expression of basic communicative needs.
  • Has a sufficient vocabulary for coping with simple survival needs.
  • A1
  • Has a basic vocabulary repertoire of isolated words and phrases related to particular concrete situations.

CEF: vocabulary clues Booklet p. 1

  • Table 2. Common Reference Levels: self-assessment grid
  • A1
  • A2
  • B1
  • B2
  • L
  • i
  • s
  • t
  • e
  • n
  • i
  • n
  • g
  • I can recognise familiar words and very basic phrases concerning myself, my family and immediate concrete surroundings when people speak slowly and clearly.
  • I can understand phrases and the highest frequency vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local area, employment). I can catch the main point in short, clear, simple messages and announcements.
  • I can understand the main points of clear standard speech on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. I can understand the main point of many radio or TV programmes on current affairs or topics of personal or professional interest when the delivery is relatively slow and clear.
  • I can understand extended speech and lectures and follow even complex lines of argument provided the topic is reasonably familiar. I can understand most TV news and current affairs programmes. I can understand the majority of films in standard dialect.
  • R
  • e
  • a
  • d
  • i
  • n
  • g
  • I can understand familiar names, words and very simple sentences, for example on notices and posters or in catalogues.
  • I can read very short, simple texts. I can find specific, predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements, prospectuses, menus and timetables and I can understand short simple personal letters.
  • I can understand texts that consist mainly of high frequency everyday or job-related language. I can understand the description of events, feelings and wishes in personal letters.
  • I can read articles and reports concerned with contemporary problems in which the writers adopt particular attitudes or viewpoints. I can understand contemporary literary prose.

CEF  ±  English in Dutch secondary schools

  • Booklet p. 2
  • A1
  • A2
  • B1
  • B2
  • L
  • i
  • s
  • t
  • e
  • n
  • i
  • n
  • g
  • BB1 KB1 GT1 H1
  • V1
  • GT2
  • KB3
  • V3
  • GT4
  • H4
  • V5
  • V6
  • R
  • e
  • a
  • d
  • i
  • n
  • g
  • BB1 KB1
  • GT1 H1 V1
  • KB2 GT2 H2
  • KB3
  • GT3 V3
  • BB4
  • H4
  • H5
  • V6

Frequency (1) Booklet pp. 2, 3

  • http://ucrel.lancs.ac.uk/bncfreq/
  • Companion Website for:
  • Word Frequencies in Written and Spoken English: based on the British National Corpus.
  • (2001) pp. 320, Longman, London. Word PoS Freq Ra Disp
  • a Det % 21626 100 0.99
  • A / a Lett : 268 100 0.93
  • a bit Adv : 119 99 0.87
  • a great deal Adv : 14 96 0.95
  • a little Adv : 104 100 0.92
  • a lot Adv : 40 99 0.93
  • abandon Verb % 44 99 0.96
  • @ @ abandon 12 98 0.94
  • @ @ abandoned 26 97 0.96
  • @ @ abandoning 5 90 0.93
  • @ @ abandons 1 47 0.87
  • abbey NoC % 20 95 0.90
  • @ @ abbey 19 95 0.90
  • @ @ abbeys 1 34 0.75
  • Aberdeen NoP % 14 88 0.80
  • http://www.wordfrequency.info/
  • Word frequency lists and dictionary
  • from the Corpus of Contemporary American English

Frequency (2)

  • Word PoS Freq
  • the Det 61847
  • of Prep 29391
  • and Conj 26817
  • a Det 21626
  • in Prep 18214
  • to Inf 16284
  • it Pron 10875
  • is Verb 9982
  • to Prep 9343
  • was Verb 9236
  • I Pron 8875
  • for Prep 8412
  • that Conj 7308
  • you Pron 6954
  • he Pron 6810
  • be* Verb 6644
  • with Prep 6575
  • on Prep 6475
  • by Prep 5096
  • at Prep 4790
  • have* Verb 4735
  • are Verb 4707
  • not Neg 4626
  • this DetP 4623
  • 's Gen 4599
  • but Conj 4577
  • had Verb 4452
  • they Pron 4332
  • his Det 4285
  • from Prep 4134
  • she Pron 3801
  • that DetP 3792
  • which DetP 3719
  • or Conj 3707
  • we Pron 3578
  • 's Verb 3490
  • an Det 3430
  • ~n't Neg 3328
  • were Verb 3227
  • as Conj 3006
  • do Verb 2802
  • been Verb 2686
  • their Det 2608
  • has Verb 2593
  • would VMod 2551
  • there Ex 2532
  • what DetP 2493
  • will VMod 2470
  • all DetP 2436
  • if Conj 2369
  • can VMod 2354
  • her* Det 2183
  • said Verb 2087
  • who Pron 2055
  • one Num 1962
  • so Adv 1893
  • up Adv 1795
  • as Prep 1774
  • them Pron 1733
  • some DetP 1712
  • when Conj 1712
  • could VMod 1683
  • him Pron 1649
  • into Prep 1634
  • its Det 1632
  • then Adv 1595
  • two Num 1561
  • out Adv 1542
  • time NoC 1542
  • my Det 1525
  • about Prep 1524
  • did Verb 1434
  • your Det 1383
  • now Adv 1382
  • me Pron 1364
  • no Det 1343
  • other Adj 1336
  • only Adv 1298
  • just Adv 1277
  • more Adv 1275
  • these DetP 1254
  • also Adv 1248
  • people NoC 1241
  • know Verb 1233
  • any DetP 1220
  • first Ord 1193
  • see Verb 1186
  • very Adv 1165
  • new Adj 1145
  • may VMod 1135
  • well Adv 1119
  • should VMod 1112
  • her* Pron 1085
  • like Prep 1064
  • than Conj 1033
  • how Adv 1016
  • get Verb 995

Tasks and tries

  • See Conference Booklet CEF-BNC:
  • A page 2
  • B pages 2/3
  • C page 4
  • D page 4  5 – 7
  • E page 5
  • F pages 5  5 – 8

D, E, F

  • Pick of the plumbers is from GLTL 2010 re-examination: B1 most likely
  • Robber tries to hold up closed bank is in pretest revised VAS 2: A2
  • We’re all speaking Geek is from VWO 2010 re-examination: B2/B2+
  • I speak three languages fluently, am a black belt in karate, play league badminton, sing in a
  • choir and play the organ at a church. I raise money for two charities and help with autistic
  • children. I hope to retire from my plumbing work next year, aged 50. And no, Mr O’Neill, I
  • didn’t have any GCSE’s either.
  • But in no area of the culture is the collision more intense than over the English language,
  • for the web has changed English more radically than any invention since paper, and much
  • faster. According to Paul Payack, who runs the Global Language Monitor, there are
  • currently 998,974 words in the English language, with thousands more emerging every
  • month. By his calculation, English will adopt its one millionth word in late November. To
  • put that statistic another way, for every French word, there are now ten in English.


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