Expanding Academic Vocabulary

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. How many Words do you Need?. How many words? Difficult to estimate Example: runa verb of motion a baseball term political context (run for office) run a business, a run on the dollar Active and receptive vocabulary. How much vocabulary does a learner need?. Three ways to answer this ques

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Expanding Academic Vocabulary

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1. Expanding Academic Vocabulary Diana Turner TESL Manitoba SAG Oct. 21, 2005

3. How much vocabulary does a learner need? Three ways to answer this question: How many words are there in English? How many words do native speakers know? How many words are needed to do the things a language user needs to do? Nations and Waring, in Schmitt, N. and M. McCarthy (Eds.): Vocabulary: Description, Acquisition and Pedagogy: Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. 6-19 Version: Sept 1997, available at http://www1.harenet.ne.jp/~waring/papers/cup.html How much vocabulary does a learner need? Depends on goals, and vocabulary isn’t everything, but is essential. How many words are there in English? Exclude archaic words, compound words, archaic words, abbreviations, proper names, alternative spellings and dialect forms—about 54,000 word families. How many words do native speakers know? Difficult to measure, but some studies show kindergarten has about 1,000 word families and adds 1,000 every year. By age 8, about 4,000 to 5,000. The average person going into university –15,000-18,000. Graduate—maybe 20,000. How many words are needed to do the things a language user needs to do? Not all words are equally useful—”the” accounts for about 7% of the words on a written page and in conversation. Let’s look at frequency—the good news is that a relatively small number occur frequently, even in academic text. How much vocabulary does a learner need? Depends on goals, and vocabulary isn’t everything, but is essential. How many words are there in English? Exclude archaic words, compound words, archaic words, abbreviations, proper names, alternative spellings and dialect forms—about 54,000 word families. How many words do native speakers know? Difficult to measure, but some studies show kindergarten has about 1,000 word families and adds 1,000 every year. By age 8, about 4,000 to 5,000. The average person going into university –15,000-18,000. Graduate—maybe 20,000. How many words are needed to do the things a language user needs to do? Not all words are equally useful—”the” accounts for about 7% of the words on a written page and in conversation. Let’s look at frequency—the good news is that a relatively small number occur frequently, even in academic text.

4. Which words? Many will be through daily activities and regular classroom instruction Low-frequency words, subject-specific vocabulary, connectives High-frequency words may also have multiple uses (run) General Service List (West, 1953) can be a basic guide to first 2,000

5. How many for comprehension? 2,000 words will only give 80% of the words in a text—1 word in every 5 is not unknown. -Liu and Nation (1985) First 3,000 will give 85% of text Although there are over 54,000 word families in English, between 3,000 and 5,000 word families provides a base for comprehension, between 2,000 and 3,000 for speaking and writing But we need 95% coverage to read independently-(Laufer, 1989) The challenge for ESL learners is that while they may add one or two thousand words a year, they cannot catch up with their peers. The task seems almost insurmountable! 2,000 words will only give 80% of the words in a text—1 word in every 5 is not unknown. Not enough to allow successful guessing. -Liu and Nation (1985) First 3,000 will give 85% of text coverage. --this group is a priority But need 95% coverage for independent understanding. (Laufer, 1989) Although there are over 54,000 word families in English, between 3,000 and 5,000 word families provides a base for comprehension, between 2,000 and 3,000 for speaking and writing But we need 95% to read independently-- The challenge for ESL learners is that while they may add one or two thousand words a year, they cannot catch up with their peers. E.G., You come in grade 10—with 1,000; learn 1,000 a year for two more years—still only have 3,000. The task seems almost insurmountable for the older ESL learner. Academic Word List (Coxhead, 2000) includes 570 headwords and 3,000 words from the families found most frequently across a range of disciplines Begin to be taught by grade 4 Words need to be learned in context and with repeated exposures2,000 words will only give 80% of the words in a text—1 word in every 5 is not unknown. Not enough to allow successful guessing. -Liu and Nation (1985) First 3,000 will give 85% of text coverage. --this group is a priority But need 95% coverage for independent understanding. (Laufer, 1989) Although there are over 54,000 word families in English, between 3,000 and 5,000 word families provides a base for comprehension, between 2,000 and 3,000 for speaking and writing But we need 95% to read independently-- The challenge for ESL learners is that while they may add one or two thousand words a year, they cannot catch up with their peers. E.G., You come in grade 10—with 1,000; learn 1,000 a year for two more years—still only have 3,000. The task seems almost insurmountable for the older ESL learner. Academic Word List (Coxhead, 2000) includes 570 headwords and 3,000 words from the families found most frequently across a range of disciplines Begin to be taught by grade 4 Words need to be learned in context and with repeated exposures

6. What is the AWL? By concentrating study on the words that are used most frequently, students can efficiently gain key vocabulary that will transfer to a number of different academic language situations. The Academic Word List (Coxhead, 2000) are words beyond the first 2,000 that are found most frequently across a range of disciplines. It contains a group of 570 word families—words like theory, compile, demonstrate, minimum. Words begin to be taught by grade 4.

7. AWL cont’d Accounts for another 10% of the vocabulary, and provides a density of unknown words of 1 in 10. (Nation, 2001), a much better situation than the 1in 5 that the first 2,000 leave unknown. Learning the first 2000 words and the 570 words from the AWL would allow a student to know about 90% of the words encountered in an academic text. The remaining words are specialized subject-specific words and proper names, etc. that all students must learn. “If, instead of learning the Academic Word List, the learner had moved on to the third 1,000 most frequent words, instead of an additional 10% coverage there would only have been 4.3% extra coverage.” Nation, P. (2001). Learning Vocabulary in Another Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

8. Looking at the AWL http://www.vuw.ac.nz/lals/research/awl/index.html Sublists: based on frequency E.g., Sublist 1 covers 60 families that account for 3.6% of text and occur once every 4 pages Sublist 2 words account for 1.8% of text and occur every 8 pages. Sublist 10 words account for 0.1% of text and occur every 82 pages.

9. One way to test levels Paul Nation's Vocabulary Levels Tests (Nation, 1990). “If you score below 83% on any level, then you could start building up this level by working on the corresponding wordlist on the Learn Words page. Use the linked concordance and dictionary as learning tools.” This test is designed to estimate examinees' basic knowledge of common word meanings, and, specifically, the extent to which they know the common meanings of words at the 2,000, 3,000, 5,000, 10,000 and university word levels. The test can be classified as a sensitive vocabulary test, which means that the format is sensitive to partial word knowledge. A less sensitive test (e.g., a multiple-choice cloze test focused on specific content words only) would result in lower scores even if the same words were tested. http://www.er.uqam.ca/nobel/r21270/levels/

10. Tips for Learning AWL words from Coxhead, http://www.vuw.ac.nz/lals/research/awl/info.html Read academic texts; listen to academic lectures and discussions; where possible, no more than 5% new words Speak in academic discussion and write academic texts using academic vocabulary Directly study words from the list using word cards and doing intensive study of short academic texts.

11. Learning AWL words cont’d Start with sublist 1—most frequent Don’t start with all the A words—work down the list with words that don’t resemble each other and are not related in meaning Check the list for words found in texts. If they are in the AWL, learn them. If they are not, check the GSL. If not there, decide carefully whether needed. Focus on retrieving words rather than recognizing them. Word cards Space repetitions Process words thoughtfully. Make associations; think of situational contexts in which to use them.

12. Implications for teachers? Provide rich academic contexts for students to experience target words in multiple contexts. Help students identify high priority vocabulary. Use available tools for vocabulary analysis.

13. Tools Several easy and interesting tools are available to work with the Academic Word List. Online vocabulary profilers, cloze creators, exercises, online dictionaries, concordances Appeal to advanced senior years students

14. A set of tools http://www.lextutor.ca/ Look at Tutorial: test your word level Explore resource-linked word lists Read Resource-assisted Vocab profiler Concordancer VocabProfile Clozes

15. Learning Academic Vocabulary http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/%7Ealzsh3/acvocab/learning.htm For the student or teacher Highlighter and gapmaker

16. An English Test Is Changed, and Some Foreign Students Worry By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: September 25, 2005 For American students, tests like the SAT, ACT and Graduate Record Examination mark the path to college and graduate school. But for hundreds of thousands of international students hoping to study in the United States, a major concern is proving their language skills on the Test of English as a Foreign Language, or Toefl. Now that test has undergone major changes. And as the new test made its debut on Saturday, some students, particularly Asians, were worried that they would be disadvantaged because of how they were taught English in school. In recent years, many of the 5,200 English-speaking colleges and universities that use the exam have become concerned that the test fails to identify those students who have mastered only "textbook" English. And some undergraduates have complained that they cannot understand foreign graduate students teaching their classes. So after a decade's research, the Educational Testing Service, which developed the exam, has shifted the test's focus to how well students read, write and speak in combination. Students may be asked to listen to a recording and read a passage, then speak about both. Their responses will be digitally recorded, then downloaded for grading. Perhaps the biggest change is the new speaking component; previously, the testing company offered a separate speaking test, but few students took it. The company was giving the new English test, which is Internet-based, this weekend in American test centers. The exam will phase in worldwide over the next year. Last year, 750,000 students took the old test, which was mostly multiple choice. In school "you're always using a combination of skills," said Mari Pearlman, a senior vice president of the testing company. "When you read, you take notes. When you're in a classroom, you're also speaking and writing." Students need all three skills outside the classroom, too, whether to find housing or figure out the washing machine. The reworking of the test is more substantial than the recent makeover of the SAT. And the changes have some students nervous, particularly those from Asia, where schools generally emphasize vocabulary and grammar over speaking. "Most Asians, especially Japan, Korea, Taiwan, love reading, structure, grammar," Yoshihiko Iwasaki, a Japanese student hoping to attend business school, said while on break from a test-preparation class in Boston earlier this week. "Speaking is weak, because sometimes, it's impolite to speak out, to describe an opinion or talk to the teacher. When we take a class, we just sit and take notes and memorize." Emily Pierre, who manages English programs at Kaplan, the test-preparation company, said, "We're all kind of thinking this is going to be more of a challenge to Asian students." Ms. Pearlman said pre-testing did not suggest that students from particular countries would suffer disproportionately. She acknowledged that Asian students might have disadvantages, but said they would make up for them because "they are ferociously capable and determined." Educators hope the change will improve the teaching of English worldwide. When the testing company added writing to the English test in the 1970's, curriculums around the world were adjusted. The company predicts that the new speaking section will have a similar effect. It also hopes that administering the test by the Internet will improve access to it, giving more students a chance at studying abroad, be it in the United States or elsewhere.

17. Online Dictionaries Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary or Advanced Learner’s Dictionary http://dictionary.cambridge.org/ Will give the word in one or two sentence contexts

18. Gerry’s Vocabulary Teacher Vocabulary Exercises for the AWL http://web.uvic.ca/~gluton/awl/id21.htm

19. Vocabulary building Skills http://www.uefap.co.uk/vocab/vocfram.htm In addition to words, we need to develop skills and strategies for approaching new words: Affixes and roots Word formation

20. Lexical Approach in Academic Contexts The work of applied linguists such as Nattinger and Decarrio (1992) and Michael Lewis (1993, 1997) challenged the traditional division of grammar and vocabulary by arguing that language is largely composed of grammatically-rich “chunks” of two to seven words. Individual words often carry combinatory possibilities with them, so that the word opportunity is often preceded by miss, grab, take, or make the most of. We don’t say, “I forgot my passport and lost my plane.” We missed the plane.These particular combinations are referred to as collocations. Lewis believes that learning these multiword phrases or “chunks” can give students a naturalness and fluency that is difficult to achieve by separating vocabulary items and grammar rules. This lexical approach is dependent on the computer analysis of extensive collections of language samples (corpora). Using concordancing tools, a chosen text can be analyzed for common collocations. The teacher’s role then is to select texts where students will encounter many of these typical lexical patterns, to make students aware of the existence of chunks, and to provide opportunities for students to process the new vocabulary in context. So, select texts that provide typical linguistic environments for high-frequency academic lexis, and activities that encourage students to review and consolidate new vocabulary

21. Lexical Notebook Begin with a simple explanation of what this is and why multi-word units are an efficient and useful way to learn language. Explain that they should avoid single words, but should try to find out what other verbs, adjectives, prepositions, etc. go together with each word. Do the first theme for them as a model. Choose the theme (likely one from class). The theme can be organised into 10 pages like this: Verb + Noun collocations 2 pages Verbs with Do, Have, Go, Make ,Take, Get 2 pages Adjective + Noun collocations 2 pages Adverb + Adjective collocations 1 page Phrasal Verbs 1 page Collocations containing prepositions 1 page Phrases/ Expressions 1 page Adapted from Shaun Dowling, http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/think/vocabulary/lexical_notebook.shtml

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