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The role of classroom and informal vocabulary input in growing a foreign language lexicon.

The role of classroom and informal vocabulary input in growing a foreign language lexicon.

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The role of classroom and informal vocabulary input in growing a foreign language lexicon.

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    1. The role of classroom and informal vocabulary input in growing a foreign language lexicon. James Milton Swansea University, UK j.l.milton@swansea.ac.uk

    2. Starting thoughts We really understand very little about what is normal and what is abnormal in foreign language learning (Alderson 2005) the best means of achieving good vocabulary learning is still unclear Luckily, there is now a very substantial literature on vocabulary learning although much of this has been slow to filter into the pedagogical mainstream (Schmitt 2008) I want, by way of background, to begin this talk with two observations. The first is by Charles Alderson who began a recent book on Diagnosing Foreign Language Proficiency with the first comment We really dont know much about whats normal and abnormal in foreign language learning. What Charles is saying is that we dont have fixed points of reference in language so we can say definitively that such and such a learner is definitely advanced, or has all the right knowledge to pass an exam. There is much more art than science in making judgements about a learners level and progress in language. For example, I think everyone here is involved in the business of teaching English as a foreign language so if your beginners in their first year of learning learned, say, 300 words would this be good or bad? And how far along the road to complete knowledge or knowledge good enough for fluency would they be? Ive taken an example from the area of vocabulary, its what I know about, but this observation could apply to any area of language knowledge. Actually, in vocabulary learning I think we probably know more about how learning words fit into the overall task of language learning, than would be the case for other aspects of language knowledge. And thats where the second observation from Norbert Schmitt comes in. Over the last 20 years or so weve made considerable progress in designing tests which enable us to model a foreign language lexicon and how it develops over the course of learning. This ought to provide useful information about what the materials we use ought to look like- which words should be in the books and how many of them - and how we ought to teach the subject. But this information, as Norbert points out, seems slow to move into the pedagogocial mainstream. Writers of FL teaching textbooks can do some pretty funny things. Nonetheless, I think there are useful and insightful things we can say about teaching vocabulary, and the things we should do as teachers to expedite learningI want, by way of background, to begin this talk with two observations. The first is by Charles Alderson who began a recent book on Diagnosing Foreign Language Proficiency with the first comment We really dont know much about whats normal and abnormal in foreign language learning. What Charles is saying is that we dont have fixed points of reference in language so we can say definitively that such and such a learner is definitely advanced, or has all the right knowledge to pass an exam. There is much more art than science in making judgements about a learners level and progress in language. For example, I think everyone here is involved in the business of teaching English as a foreign language so if your beginners in their first year of learning learned, say, 300 words would this be good or bad? And how far along the road to complete knowledge or knowledge good enough for fluency would they be? Ive taken an example from the area of vocabulary, its what I know about, but this observation could apply to any area of language knowledge. Actually, in vocabulary learning I think we probably know more about how learning words fit into the overall task of language learning, than would be the case for other aspects of language knowledge. And thats where the second observation from Norbert Schmitt comes in. Over the last 20 years or so weve made considerable progress in designing tests which enable us to model a foreign language lexicon and how it develops over the course of learning. This ought to provide useful information about what the materials we use ought to look like- which words should be in the books and how many of them - and how we ought to teach the subject. But this information, as Norbert points out, seems slow to move into the pedagogocial mainstream. Writers of FL teaching textbooks can do some pretty funny things. Nonetheless, I think there are useful and insightful things we can say about teaching vocabulary, and the things we should do as teachers to expedite learning

    3. The problem of teaching vocabulary directly few words are retained from those which are learned or taught by direct instruction [and learners] extend their vocabulary through sub-conscious acquisition (Harris and Snow 2004: 55 - 61). most L2 vocabulary is learned incidentally, much of it from oral input (Ellis 1994,: 24). Having said that I think I have to acknowledge that there is a school of thought vocabulary really doesnt have a place in instructed language learning. As these quotations suggest there is an idea very prevalent in EFL teaching in the UK that you shouldnt teach vocabulary explicitly because it is, as Snow says a waste of time. And because learners soak it up unconsciously from, Ellis suggests from oral interaction. I overheard a comment from a course leader in my own universitys language centre which illustrates this idea. Faced with a student who felt he would like word lists to learn from she told him, Look, dont worry about vocabulary. After youve been here a while youll find the words will just come to you. You wont know where theyve come from but when you want to say something the word will be there. The learner doesnt have to do anything to learn vocabulary, and neither does the teacher. This idea is what Laufer calls a default hypothesis. For a long time it has been unclear how something as large and complex as a FL lexicon can be built given the classroom time available. And if it isnt taught and learned in the classroom then it must come from somewhere else. And if vocabulary does come from somewhere else then you may as well leave it out of the classroom entirely. I dont subscribe to this view, of course, but it is a legitimate to ask questions like: what do learners get from the type of classroom instruction we give them.Having said that I think I have to acknowledge that there is a school of thought vocabulary really doesnt have a place in instructed language learning. As these quotations suggest there is an idea very prevalent in EFL teaching in the UK that you shouldnt teach vocabulary explicitly because it is, as Snow says a waste of time. And because learners soak it up unconsciously from, Ellis suggests from oral interaction. I overheard a comment from a course leader in my own universitys language centre which illustrates this idea. Faced with a student who felt he would like word lists to learn from she told him, Look, dont worry about vocabulary. After youve been here a while youll find the words will just come to you. You wont know where theyve come from but when you want to say something the word will be there. The learner doesnt have to do anything to learn vocabulary, and neither does the teacher. This idea is what Laufer calls a default hypothesis. For a long time it has been unclear how something as large and complex as a FL lexicon can be built given the classroom time available. And if it isnt taught and learned in the classroom then it must come from somewhere else. And if vocabulary does come from somewhere else then you may as well leave it out of the classroom entirely. I dont subscribe to this view, of course, but it is a legitimate to ask questions like: what do learners get from the type of classroom instruction we give them.

    4. Lecture structure go over what we know about growing a FL lexicon size (how words are stored) quality (influence of frequency) review what we know about the way instructed vocabulary learning can make this achievable textbook and classroom vocabulary informal activities So what I intend to cover in this lecture is To go over what we know about growing a lexicon. I want to look at the size of the lexicon and this involves making a good model of how words are stored in the mental lexicon. And I want to look at the quality of the lexicon, which words are stored and in which form, and this involves an understanding a bit about word frequency since it turns out that this is an important factor in learning vocabulary. The FL lexicon turns out to be large and complex, so large in fact that for many years it has been unclear how FL learners master it with the limited classroom time they often have available. Secondly, I want to review what we know about the way instructed vocabulary learning can make this achievable. What is there in the textbooks we use, and the activities we ask learners to undertake which contribute best to the FL lexicon. So I want to look at particular studies we have of textbook vocabulary and uptake, and the kind of informal activities we routinely ask learners to undertake and which we presume will contribute to vocabulary learning. This review will, I hope, provide an answer to the question of how FL learners can master the FL lexicon.So what I intend to cover in this lecture is To go over what we know about growing a lexicon. I want to look at the size of the lexicon and this involves making a good model of how words are stored in the mental lexicon. And I want to look at the quality of the lexicon, which words are stored and in which form, and this involves an understanding a bit about word frequency since it turns out that this is an important factor in learning vocabulary. The FL lexicon turns out to be large and complex, so large in fact that for many years it has been unclear how FL learners master it with the limited classroom time they often have available. Secondly, I want to review what we know about the way instructed vocabulary learning can make this achievable. What is there in the textbooks we use, and the activities we ask learners to undertake which contribute best to the FL lexicon. So I want to look at particular studies we have of textbook vocabulary and uptake, and the kind of informal activities we routinely ask learners to undertake and which we presume will contribute to vocabulary learning. This review will, I hope, provide an answer to the question of how FL learners can master the FL lexicon.

    5. The size of the FL lexicon Counting separate forms cat/cats jump/jumps/jumper etc NL lexicons may include up to 250,000 items (Seashore and Eckerson, 1940) A learning burden of about 30 new words every day for 20 years At risk of stating the obvious, the foreign language lexicon consists of words. But how many words depends on how you define a word and what you choose to count. If a learner is confronted with a word and its regularly formed plural as, in English, cat and cats, is this one word or two different ones? In one sense they are clearly two different words since they have different spelling and different pronunciation. There is also an important difference in meaning between the two: the presence of the final s in the second indicates plurality which the first lacks. But this kind of definition may not be helpful in understanding how learners handle words and how the learning process works in growing a large lexicon. And you can see this because if every different form of a word is counted as a separate word, and these words are learned and stored separately, then in order to master a language several hundred thousand words might be needed. Early estimates of the vocabulary size of native speakers were made this way, for example Seashore and Eckerson (1940), and suggested knowledge in the region of 200,000 or 250,000 words; surely an impossible learning task for the foreign language learner. I dont think anyone really things the FL lexicon works this way.At risk of stating the obvious, the foreign language lexicon consists of words. But how many words depends on how you define a word and what you choose to count. If a learner is confronted with a word and its regularly formed plural as, in English, cat and cats, is this one word or two different ones? In one sense they are clearly two different words since they have different spelling and different pronunciation. There is also an important difference in meaning between the two: the presence of the final s in the second indicates plurality which the first lacks. But this kind of definition may not be helpful in understanding how learners handle words and how the learning process works in growing a large lexicon. And you can see this because if every different form of a word is counted as a separate word, and these words are learned and stored separately, then in order to master a language several hundred thousand words might be needed. Early estimates of the vocabulary size of native speakers were made this way, for example Seashore and Eckerson (1940), and suggested knowledge in the region of 200,000 or 250,000 words; surely an impossible learning task for the foreign language learner. I dont think anyone really things the FL lexicon works this way.

    6. The size of the FL lexicon 2 Counting lemmas or word families Lemma = base word + regular inflections Word family = base word + inflections and derivations regular inflections are learned early (Schmitt and Meara 1997) derivations are learned later and may be stored as separate words NL estimates of English 17,000 to 20,000 words among educated adults (Goulden et al 1990) 9,000 among 18 year-olds entering university (Milton 2009). More recent approaches to language learning have surmised that a lexicon is not acquired in this way and that learners, of both first and foreign languages, recognise very early in the acquisition process that words often have a base form that can be regularly inflected. To use the previous example, learners recognise that there is a meaning with a base form cat and that by applying a regular inflection rule where s is added to the end, as with many other words in English, you can create a plural form. Rather than having to learn every word form as a separate item, if a learner learns one form and applies these rules for inflection, many different word forms can be created. We have evidence that foreign language learners also grasp this idea very early on in the learning process and that regular inflections are learned early (Schmitt and Meara 1997). Derivations, it seems may be learned rather later. They are less frequent and less regular so there may be good reasons for this. And there is evidence too that these may be stored and used as separate words. Slips of the tongue which involve incorrectly used inflections are common in native speakers, therefore, but slips using incorrectly used derivation are very rare. It makes sense, therefore, to model the lexicon and its acquisition not in terms of separate word forms but in terms of lemmas or word families. Figures of the size of the lexicon made this way suggest some much smaller numbers than Seashore and Eckerson suggested. Goulden, Nation and Read (1991) suggested 17,000 to 20,000 for educated native speakers. My own research with university entrants suggests a significantly smaller figure of about 9,000 words measured this way. These are still large figures and would involved considerable effort and time in learning but the scale is much more approachable that earlier estimates suggested. More recent approaches to language learning have surmised that a lexicon is not acquired in this way and that learners, of both first and foreign languages, recognise very early in the acquisition process that words often have a base form that can be regularly inflected. To use the previous example, learners recognise that there is a meaning with a base form cat and that by applying a regular inflection rule where s is added to the end, as with many other words in English, you can create a plural form. Rather than having to learn every word form as a separate item, if a learner learns one form and applies these rules for inflection, many different word forms can be created. We have evidence that foreign language learners also grasp this idea very early on in the learning process and that regular inflections are learned early (Schmitt and Meara 1997). Derivations, it seems may be learned rather later. They are less frequent and less regular so there may be good reasons for this. And there is evidence too that these may be stored and used as separate words. Slips of the tongue which involve incorrectly used inflections are common in native speakers, therefore, but slips using incorrectly used derivation are very rare. It makes sense, therefore, to model the lexicon and its acquisition not in terms of separate word forms but in terms of lemmas or word families. Figures of the size of the lexicon made this way suggest some much smaller numbers than Seashore and Eckerson suggested. Goulden, Nation and Read (1991) suggested 17,000 to 20,000 for educated native speakers. My own research with university entrants suggests a significantly smaller figure of about 9,000 words measured this way. These are still large figures and would involved considerable effort and time in learning but the scale is much more approachable that earlier estimates suggested.

    7. The size of the FL lexicon 3 - fluency 8 - 9,000 word families for fluency in reading and writing Testing Coverage (Nation 2006) Maybe less of you only want to speak and on nothing terribly technical That figure of about 9,000 words is an interesting one for the size of the lexicon in fluent NL users of English because, using lemma/word family calculations, this is also the kind of size that fluent FL learners appear to have in English. This conclusion is reached in two ways. One, uses tests like the Eurocentres Vocabulary Size Test which estimates recognition knowledge of the most frequent 10,000 lemmatised words in English and arrives at the same kind of figure. Very fluent EFL users, the kind who get an A in CPE, know 8,000 to 9,000 words. The second, made by Nation (2006), calculates the number of words you need before you hit 98% coverage of a text. He concludes that for reading and writing you probably need to know the most frequent 8,000 or 9,000 words. You might need fewer words if you objective is only to use EFL orally, such as watching a film.That figure of about 9,000 words is an interesting one for the size of the lexicon in fluent NL users of English because, using lemma/word family calculations, this is also the kind of size that fluent FL learners appear to have in English. This conclusion is reached in two ways. One, uses tests like the Eurocentres Vocabulary Size Test which estimates recognition knowledge of the most frequent 10,000 lemmatised words in English and arrives at the same kind of figure. Very fluent EFL users, the kind who get an A in CPE, know 8,000 to 9,000 words. The second, made by Nation (2006), calculates the number of words you need before you hit 98% coverage of a text. He concludes that for reading and writing you probably need to know the most frequent 8,000 or 9,000 words. You might need fewer words if you objective is only to use EFL orally, such as watching a film.

    8. If you arent familiar with the idea of coverage calculation, here is a graph which I hope with help you understand. The most frequent words in English (and in any language) are very, very frequent. Only two words in English, the, and the verb to be, will probably make up 10% of all the words you speak and write. Actually, more in speech than in writing because we tend to use the more frequent words even more frequently in speech. The most frequent 10 words will make up about a quarter of all the words you speak and write. The most frequent 100 words will make up about a half of all the words you speak and write. Youll be getting the idea by now that the words that are left the less frequent ones, make progressively less contribution to coverage. The most frequent 1000 words will make up about three quarters of all the words you speak and write.If you arent familiar with the idea of coverage calculation, here is a graph which I hope with help you understand. The most frequent words in English (and in any language) are very, very frequent. Only two words in English, the, and the verb to be, will probably make up 10% of all the words you speak and write. Actually, more in speech than in writing because we tend to use the more frequent words even more frequently in speech. The most frequent 10 words will make up about a quarter of all the words you speak and write. The most frequent 100 words will make up about a half of all the words you speak and write. Youll be getting the idea by now that the words that are left the less frequent ones, make progressively less contribution to coverage. The most frequent 1000 words will make up about three quarters of all the words you speak and write.

    9. 80% coverage (2000 words) Four XXXX and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent, a nation, XXXX in XXXX and XXXX to the XXXX that all men are created equal. The most frequent 2000 words will make up about 80% of all the words you speak and write. It turns out that this 80% coverage and 2000 words in English seems to be an important threshold because this is a minimal level of knowledge before any kind of understanding of a text, even gist understanding, becomes possible. The most frequent 2000 words will make up about 80% of all the words you speak and write. It turns out that this 80% coverage and 2000 words in English seems to be an important threshold because this is a minimal level of knowledge before any kind of understanding of a text, even gist understanding, becomes possible.

    10. If you want complete understanding then you need to know pretty much all the words. To get to this point and Nation uses 98% coverage as a cut-off point you need about 8,000 or 9,000 words using BNC data. The data Ive used for this diagram suggests rather more; its drawn from a different source. I like the BNC data better, it includes a spoken element, for example. If you want complete understanding then you need to know pretty much all the words. To get to this point and Nation uses 98% coverage as a cut-off point you need about 8,000 or 9,000 words using BNC data. The data Ive used for this diagram suggests rather more; its drawn from a different source. I like the BNC data better, it includes a spoken element, for example.

    11. The size of the FL lexicon 4 - intermediate stages One of the things which has emerged from recent work on the size of the lexicon is that particular levels of competence in a foreign language require particular volumes of vocabulary to be known. It is not an absolute relationship to pass CPE with a grade A doesnt require you to have 8500 words and even one fewer will mean you fail. But it is quite a good predictive relationship learners who have this kind of vocabulary pass CPE with A. This is the kind of thing I have recently been working on with colleagues here in Thessaloniki. So it is possible to drawn up a scale of the size of the foreign language lexicon associated with particular exams or CEFR levels. In this table Ive summarised the information we have for EFL. Ive put in tested vocabulary size alongside the Cambridge suite of exams and some other exams you may also be familiar with. At the top youll see that C2 level, CPE, is associated with lexicons with about 8,000 word families or more. At C1 level learners have about 7,000 words. At B2 level, FCE, learners have about 5000 words and that fits well with other information we have, from Hindmarshs word list, for example, which contains about 4500 items. And so on down to the bottom of the table. And one of the things which emerges from this is just how many words you need in a EFL to get beyond the bottom-most elementary levels. 3,000 or 3,500 words just to get into that A2 level. Theres a lot of learning required, and a lot of time, before you can really begin to make progress communicatively. Its a lot of words. And that leads onto the next question which is which words or will any do?One of the things which has emerged from recent work on the size of the lexicon is that particular levels of competence in a foreign language require particular volumes of vocabulary to be known. It is not an absolute relationship to pass CPE with a grade A doesnt require you to have 8500 words and even one fewer will mean you fail. But it is quite a good predictive relationship learners who have this kind of vocabulary pass CPE with A. This is the kind of thing I have recently been working on with colleagues here in Thessaloniki. So it is possible to drawn up a scale of the size of the foreign language lexicon associated with particular exams or CEFR levels. In this table Ive summarised the information we have for EFL. Ive put in tested vocabulary size alongside the Cambridge suite of exams and some other exams you may also be familiar with. At the top youll see that C2 level, CPE, is associated with lexicons with about 8,000 word families or more. At C1 level learners have about 7,000 words. At B2 level, FCE, learners have about 5000 words and that fits well with other information we have, from Hindmarshs word list, for example, which contains about 4500 items. And so on down to the bottom of the table. And one of the things which emerges from this is just how many words you need in a EFL to get beyond the bottom-most elementary levels. 3,000 or 3,500 words just to get into that A2 level. Theres a lot of learning required, and a lot of time, before you can really begin to make progress communicatively. Its a lot of words. And that leads onto the next question which is which words or will any do?

    12. Well, any words wont do. A lexicon which is made up entirely of infrequent lexical words like reamer, traduce and mawkish wont allow you to communicate. One of the insights which has emerged over the last 80 or so years as the study of language corpora have developed, is just how important the most frequent words are to coverage and how important coverage is to comprehension and communication. If we look at the coverage graph again youll recall that the most frequent 100 words contribute about 25% to coverage in English. If as a learner you dont know these 100 words then you can never achieve the 98% coverage Nation suggests is necessary for comprehension and youll struggle to get your own ideas across. The reason is that these words are structure and function words auxiliary verbs like have and be, conjunctions like and, prepositions like in and of and articles. Remove the function words from language and you remove much of the grammar and it is hard to make sense of the words that remain; you dont know how these words relate to each other. So the idea has grown up that these words are terribly important as well as terribly frequent.Well, any words wont do. A lexicon which is made up entirely of infrequent lexical words like reamer, traduce and mawkish wont allow you to communicate. One of the insights which has emerged over the last 80 or so years as the study of language corpora have developed, is just how important the most frequent words are to coverage and how important coverage is to comprehension and communication. If we look at the coverage graph again youll recall that the most frequent 100 words contribute about 25% to coverage in English. If as a learner you dont know these 100 words then you can never achieve the 98% coverage Nation suggests is necessary for comprehension and youll struggle to get your own ideas across. The reason is that these words are structure and function words auxiliary verbs like have and be, conjunctions like and, prepositions like in and of and articles. Remove the function words from language and you remove much of the grammar and it is hard to make sense of the words that remain; you dont know how these words relate to each other. So the idea has grown up that these words are terribly important as well as terribly frequent.

    13. Mearas frequency profile (1992) Fortunately, it appears that these words tend to be learned early in the course of developing a FL lexicon. This graph represents the words which a learner is likely to know in a developing FL lexicon. On the bottom axis are words arranged in 1000 word frequency bands. The most frequent 100 words on the left hand side, then the next most frequent 100 words and so on. And on the vertical axis is the proportion of these words learners are likely to know. In theory what should happen is that knowledge is concentrated on the left hand side, in the most frequent bands and slops downwards to the right. Learners will tend to know more words in the first 1000 word bands than they do in the second, and more in the second than they know in the third, and so on. And as they learn the profile shifts upwards until full knowledge in each succeeding band is attained and the profile move to the right hand side and into the less frequent bands.Fortunately, it appears that these words tend to be learned early in the course of developing a FL lexicon. This graph represents the words which a learner is likely to know in a developing FL lexicon. On the bottom axis are words arranged in 1000 word frequency bands. The most frequent 100 words on the left hand side, then the next most frequent 100 words and so on. And on the vertical axis is the proportion of these words learners are likely to know. In theory what should happen is that knowledge is concentrated on the left hand side, in the most frequent bands and slops downwards to the right. Learners will tend to know more words in the first 1000 word bands than they do in the second, and more in the second than they know in the third, and so on. And as they learn the profile shifts upwards until full knowledge in each succeeding band is attained and the profile move to the right hand side and into the less frequent bands.

    20. Greek learners of EFL (Milton, 2007) And when you test this out on groups of learners, this is what seems to happen. Here are examples taken from EFL learners in Greece, British learners of French as a foreign language, and EFL learners in Japan. The frequency profile is very clear and reveals a very strong relationship between frequency and learning. The relationship is not an absolute rule and there appear to be a number of factors at play here. One thing that seems to be happening is that provided foreign language input is relatively normal then the chance of encountering a frequent word is far greater than encountering an infrequent word. Learners cannot learn words they never encounter so learning will tend to be focussed on frequent vocabulary. Frequent words will also tend to be repeated and repetition is a factor that can be linked to success in word learning although the relationship is not a simple one necessarily. It is thought that words should not merely be repeated to aid learning, but repeated in a variety of meaningful contexts. A feature of the developing lexicon, if it is developing successfully, is that it will contain these most frequent words.And when you test this out on groups of learners, this is what seems to happen. Here are examples taken from EFL learners in Greece, British learners of French as a foreign language, and EFL learners in Japan. The frequency profile is very clear and reveals a very strong relationship between frequency and learning. The relationship is not an absolute rule and there appear to be a number of factors at play here. One thing that seems to be happening is that provided foreign language input is relatively normal then the chance of encountering a frequent word is far greater than encountering an infrequent word. Learners cannot learn words they never encounter so learning will tend to be focussed on frequent vocabulary. Frequent words will also tend to be repeated and repetition is a factor that can be linked to success in word learning although the relationship is not a simple one necessarily. It is thought that words should not merely be repeated to aid learning, but repeated in a variety of meaningful contexts. A feature of the developing lexicon, if it is developing successfully, is that it will contain these most frequent words.

    21. British learners of French (Richards and Malvern, 2007)

    22. Japanese learners of EFL (Aizawa, 2006) But the final slide of EFL learners in Japan also suggests that a successfully developing lexicon is that large numbers of less frequent words are also known. There appears to be considerable knowledge of thematic vocabulary and thats probably because teaching texts have to be arranged thematically, if they are to have any content and interest at all, and many of these words are likely to be more frequent in the texts learners have been exposed to than would be the case in large corpora like BNC An example of this would be words like lion and tiger which occur in many EFL beginners textbook for young learners. And it is appropriate they should be there because animals are an important part of the world picture for learners of this age. And they are heavily repeated in the text and in workbooks so learners tend to know these words. But, of course, in adult life we hardly every encounter these animals and, unless you have young children, you hardly ever speak about them. And I see that I have started talking about the content of textbooks which is the second half of this lecture.But the final slide of EFL learners in Japan also suggests that a successfully developing lexicon is that large numbers of less frequent words are also known. There appears to be considerable knowledge of thematic vocabulary and thats probably because teaching texts have to be arranged thematically, if they are to have any content and interest at all, and many of these words are likely to be more frequent in the texts learners have been exposed to than would be the case in large corpora like BNC An example of this would be words like lion and tiger which occur in many EFL beginners textbook for young learners. And it is appropriate they should be there because animals are an important part of the world picture for learners of this age. And they are heavily repeated in the text and in workbooks so learners tend to know these words. But, of course, in adult life we hardly every encounter these animals and, unless you have young children, you hardly ever speak about them. And I see that I have started talking about the content of textbooks which is the second half of this lecture.

    23. Where do words come from? Features of the FL lexicon Large: thousands of items Containing a mixture of frequent and infrequent vocabulary Sources of FL vocabulary Textbook an classroom language Informal exposure The second half of the lecture really addresses the question of where the words which form the FL lexicon come from. We know the FL lexicon is going to be large with, once it is fully formed, maybe approaching 10,000 items in it. And we know with a lexicon that big it will have a mixture of the most frequent and some very infrequent vocabulary. For most learners in genuine FL settings the principal source, possibly the only source of FL words, will be the textbook and the spoken language of the classroom. Youd hope these two ought to be related. But we dont really know because systematic study of the language of the classroom seems to have been incredibly unattractive to researchers. Weve have a lot of works on the words learners learn, but almost nothing on the words they are exposed to and are available to learn. This is a gap Ive been trying to fill. Here in Greece learners may also have some exposure to FL words outside the classroom because there are things like sub-titled programmes on tv and these may also provide a source for learning. Ive been looking at this too and it proves to be very interesting. But I want to start with the language of the textbook as the principal, or at least the most obvious, source of FL words for most learners. And studies here suggest a bit of a conundrum because it is not immediately obvious how you build a lexicon of 10,000 words from this input even when the input is good.The second half of the lecture really addresses the question of where the words which form the FL lexicon come from. We know the FL lexicon is going to be large with, once it is fully formed, maybe approaching 10,000 items in it. And we know with a lexicon that big it will have a mixture of the most frequent and some very infrequent vocabulary. For most learners in genuine FL settings the principal source, possibly the only source of FL words, will be the textbook and the spoken language of the classroom. Youd hope these two ought to be related. But we dont really know because systematic study of the language of the classroom seems to have been incredibly unattractive to researchers. Weve have a lot of works on the words learners learn, but almost nothing on the words they are exposed to and are available to learn. This is a gap Ive been trying to fill. Here in Greece learners may also have some exposure to FL words outside the classroom because there are things like sub-titled programmes on tv and these may also provide a source for learning. Ive been looking at this too and it proves to be very interesting. But I want to start with the language of the textbook as the principal, or at least the most obvious, source of FL words for most learners. And studies here suggest a bit of a conundrum because it is not immediately obvious how you build a lexicon of 10,000 words from this input even when the input is good.

    24. British learners of French (Milton 2006) Learning is irregular, there a plateaus of non-progress Learning varies from less than 1 word to some 4 or 5 words per hour Best learners are capped Note: this is probably an unsuccessful system I want to start with an unsuccessful learning environment which is the learning of French as a FL in British schools. The learners start learning at age 11. Input is fairly limited -50 to 80 classroom hours per year in term time for the first 5 years. The majority of learners will drop out here after taking an exam called GCSE. It is meant to be at B1 level but really it isnt. The remaining learners have maybe 100 classroom hours per year in the following 2 years up to the A levels exams which are notionally B2 level. I doubt if there is much going on by way of language work outside the classroom. Things like homework are not routinely done and there is very little informal exposure to French. The graph shows the volume of vocabulary known at the end of each year of study based on a 5000 word test. The chief inspector for school describes the learning of French in schools in terms of a fairly good start, apparently reasonable progress in the first year, followed by lack of progress thereafter. And this is exactly what the graph shows. About 350 words learned at the end of the first year and a plateau showing, apparently, very little vocabulary learning for the next 2 years. This doesnt seem to be an isolated occurrence in a single school but a general feature of French learning in schools. Only when the majority of learners leave after GCSE does vocabulary learning begin to take off. Whats going on here? What can be happening in class that gives learning, then a plateau, then learning? And how can learners reach a lexicon of approaching 10,000 words when, for several years they appear to be acquiring less than 50 words per year? It would take several lifetimes to reach fluency at that rate of progress. Lets have a look at the input.I want to start with an unsuccessful learning environment which is the learning of French as a FL in British schools. The learners start learning at age 11. Input is fairly limited -50 to 80 classroom hours per year in term time for the first 5 years. The majority of learners will drop out here after taking an exam called GCSE. It is meant to be at B1 level but really it isnt. The remaining learners have maybe 100 classroom hours per year in the following 2 years up to the A levels exams which are notionally B2 level. I doubt if there is much going on by way of language work outside the classroom. Things like homework are not routinely done and there is very little informal exposure to French. The graph shows the volume of vocabulary known at the end of each year of study based on a 5000 word test. The chief inspector for school describes the learning of French in schools in terms of a fairly good start, apparently reasonable progress in the first year, followed by lack of progress thereafter. And this is exactly what the graph shows. About 350 words learned at the end of the first year and a plateau showing, apparently, very little vocabulary learning for the next 2 years. This doesnt seem to be an isolated occurrence in a single school but a general feature of French learning in schools. Only when the majority of learners leave after GCSE does vocabulary learning begin to take off. Whats going on here? What can be happening in class that gives learning, then a plateau, then learning? And how can learners reach a lexicon of approaching 10,000 words when, for several years they appear to be acquiring less than 50 words per year? It would take several lifetimes to reach fluency at that rate of progress. Lets have a look at the input.

    25. British learners of French 2 new French vocabulary Lack of lexical input in years 2 and 3 Lets start by looking at the volumes of word families the teaching text contains. The table summarises the content of each of the textbooks used over the first four years of study we have reason for thinking the glossaries are reasonably accurate. The learners follow a course called Encore Tricolour. It is very widely used in UK. Over 900 words are introduced in the first year when progress is though to be good. But less that 300 words in year two and some 450 words in year three, when progress stalls. One of the reasons there is a plateau in years 2 and 3 is that input is slight and it doesnt allow learners to make the kind of progress they make before and after these years. Learners cannot learn new words if they never encounter them. Lets start by looking at the volumes of word families the teaching text contains. The table summarises the content of each of the textbooks used over the first four years of study we have reason for thinking the glossaries are reasonably accurate. The learners follow a course called Encore Tricolour. It is very widely used in UK. Over 900 words are introduced in the first year when progress is though to be good. But less that 300 words in year two and some 450 words in year three, when progress stalls. One of the reasons there is a plateau in years 2 and 3 is that input is slight and it doesnt allow learners to make the kind of progress they make before and after these years. Learners cannot learn new words if they never encounter them.

    26. British learners of French 3 type of vocabulary input Input skewed towards frequent vocabulary 60+% frequent vocabulary A lack of thematic vocabulary input Lets look at what vocabulary the books contain. The blue circle in this diagram represents the vocabulary contained in the 4 Tricolore books. The red circle represents the vocabulary from francais fondmentale were treating a list of the most frequent words in French rather as Wests General Service Wordlist gets treated as a list of the most frequent words in English. The overlap between the two is, obviously, the words which are common to the two lists. And this shows that the content of the books is heavily skewed to the most frequent vocabulary of French. Some 63% of the text is comprised of these words. Only 36% is infrequent words. Even though the frequent words are important in growing a lexicon, a learner also needs exposure to the infrequent words. Id question whether there is enough exposure here to allow the lexicon to grow into the infrequent ranges. This is rather a strange conclusion to reach because I would have thought that for a language course to be interesting it should contain a variety of different themes and topics, and this would lead to large amounts of infrequent vocabulary being included in the textbook. It suggests the textbook lacks thematic variety and interest.Lets look at what vocabulary the books contain. The blue circle in this diagram represents the vocabulary contained in the 4 Tricolore books. The red circle represents the vocabulary from francais fondmentale were treating a list of the most frequent words in French rather as Wests General Service Wordlist gets treated as a list of the most frequent words in English. The overlap between the two is, obviously, the words which are common to the two lists. And this shows that the content of the books is heavily skewed to the most frequent vocabulary of French. Some 63% of the text is comprised of these words. Only 36% is infrequent words. Even though the frequent words are important in growing a lexicon, a learner also needs exposure to the infrequent words. Id question whether there is enough exposure here to allow the lexicon to grow into the infrequent ranges. This is rather a strange conclusion to reach because I would have thought that for a language course to be interesting it should contain a variety of different themes and topics, and this would lead to large amounts of infrequent vocabulary being included in the textbook. It suggests the textbook lacks thematic variety and interest.

    27. British learners of French 4 repetition and recycling tricolore 2 c200 tricolore 1 c30 c900 tricolore 3 Massive recycling its the same material Uptake only about 20% of words presented If we look at the degree of repetition and recycling thats involved in this course, the idea that there is a lack of thematic variety is re-emphasised. In principle repetition and recycling are meant to be good things. The teaching textbooks will tell you that anything up to a dozen or 20 exposures are necessary to learn a word. The writers of this textbook appear to me to be making a real feature of this practice, as a virtue. But the effect is that the content of the three books over the three years appear very similar. Thematic material is not varied, it is merely repeated. It must be dull. This may explain very low uptake levels only 20%, on average, of the vocabulary presented appears to be learned.If we look at the degree of repetition and recycling thats involved in this course, the idea that there is a lack of thematic variety is re-emphasised. In principle repetition and recycling are meant to be good things. The teaching textbooks will tell you that anything up to a dozen or 20 exposures are necessary to learn a word. The writers of this textbook appear to me to be making a real feature of this practice, as a virtue. But the effect is that the content of the three books over the three years appear very similar. Thematic material is not varied, it is merely repeated. It must be dull. This may explain very low uptake levels only 20%, on average, of the vocabulary presented appears to be learned.

    28. British learners of French 5 How do these learners achieve a lexicon of a size capable of allowing them to be fluent they dont There arent enough words There arent enough of the right words Theres not enough variety to make the material interesting and learnable So, how do these learners of French in Britain achieve a lexicon of a size capable of allowing them to be fluent. The answer is they dont. Even our graduates from university are far from fluent when they graduate and one of the principal causes of this is the lack of a lexicon which would allow them to be fluent. Im not sure they are given much of a chance. There arent enough words in the materials they use. There arent enough of the right words, they need a wide variety of infrequent as well as the frequent words to build that lexicon. And the absence of this variety makes the material they learn from uninteresting and repetitious. This must be highly demotivating for learners. But other learners do grow big lexicons and become fluent. Im standing in front of a roomful of people who have done this if you can understand me, you must be pretty fluent. Lets have a look at vocabulary learning in Greece.So, how do these learners of French in Britain achieve a lexicon of a size capable of allowing them to be fluent. The answer is they dont. Even our graduates from university are far from fluent when they graduate and one of the principal causes of this is the lack of a lexicon which would allow them to be fluent. Im not sure they are given much of a chance. There arent enough words in the materials they use. There arent enough of the right words, they need a wide variety of infrequent as well as the frequent words to build that lexicon. And the absence of this variety makes the material they learn from uninteresting and repetitious. This must be highly demotivating for learners. But other learners do grow big lexicons and become fluent. Im standing in front of a roomful of people who have done this if you can understand me, you must be pretty fluent. Lets have a look at vocabulary learning in Greece.

    29. Greek learners of EFL (Milton 2007) Regular growth About 700 words per year About 7 words per classroom hour Note: this is probably a very good school I spend a lot of time working with people from different countries and language learning environments. I think the way EFL appears to be learned in Greece suggests that this is a very successful learning environment. Probably dont need to tell anyone here about how frontisteria are organised. The learners who provided the data for this graph started learning English around age 7, younger than the British learners, and have about 100 hours of classroom input per year, more than the British learners. They probably have a more supportive learning environment: the parents are paying for classes so they will be positive about it, the learners will appreciate the educational and professional benefits of being successful, learners will probably do things like homework more routinely, and there is the potential for informal learning through tv, pop songs and so on. Learners at this school appear to make very regular progress about 700 words per year every year. This means they gain about 7 words per classroom hour although if classroom learning is supplemented with homework and other sources of input then this might be overstating the rate of uptake. By the time learners take FCE they have something over 5,000 words on average which is exactly what they need if they want to pass the exam, and routinely they do pass it. This is a good school. This provides a very different picture from the way vocabulary is learning in British schools. Whats going on that makes learning more successful. What is there in the textbook that might account for this?I spend a lot of time working with people from different countries and language learning environments. I think the way EFL appears to be learned in Greece suggests that this is a very successful learning environment. Probably dont need to tell anyone here about how frontisteria are organised. The learners who provided the data for this graph started learning English around age 7, younger than the British learners, and have about 100 hours of classroom input per year, more than the British learners. They probably have a more supportive learning environment: the parents are paying for classes so they will be positive about it, the learners will appreciate the educational and professional benefits of being successful, learners will probably do things like homework more routinely, and there is the potential for informal learning through tv, pop songs and so on. Learners at this school appear to make very regular progress about 700 words per year every year. This means they gain about 7 words per classroom hour although if classroom learning is supplemented with homework and other sources of input then this might be overstating the rate of uptake. By the time learners take FCE they have something over 5,000 words on average which is exactly what they need if they want to pass the exam, and routinely they do pass it. This is a good school. This provides a very different picture from the way vocabulary is learning in British schools. Whats going on that makes learning more successful. What is there in the textbook that might account for this?

    30. Greek learners of EFL 2 lexis in textbooks (Milton and Vassiliu 2001) Much more thematic variety Repetition restricted to frequent vocabulary This figure isnt a perfect comparison with the 3 textbook comparison for French learners in Britain. It doesnt compare 3 textbooks at three different levels, and the volumes of vocabulary are rather different. But features of EFL teaching texts in Greece do emerge from this. Each textbook contains a lot of unique vocabulary. This is the result of a wide variety of themes and topics. Only the most frequent vocabulary is routinely recycled in all texts. Learners are exposed to frequent vocabulary, and they do learn it. But they are also exposed to lots of infrequent vocabulary too so they can grow a large lexicon beyond the most frequent ranges.This figure isnt a perfect comparison with the 3 textbook comparison for French learners in Britain. It doesnt compare 3 textbooks at three different levels, and the volumes of vocabulary are rather different. But features of EFL teaching texts in Greece do emerge from this. Each textbook contains a lot of unique vocabulary. This is the result of a wide variety of themes and topics. Only the most frequent vocabulary is routinely recycled in all texts. Learners are exposed to frequent vocabulary, and they do learn it. But they are also exposed to lots of infrequent vocabulary too so they can grow a large lexicon beyond the most frequent ranges.

    31. Greek learners of EFL 3 lexis in textbooks (Milton and Vassiliu 2001) Proportions of frequent and infrequent vocabulary are much more balanced Highly frequent vocabulary is not force fed to learners to the exclusion of infrequent vocabulary Perhaps because of this, the balance between frequent and infrequent vocabulary in the EFL texts is rather difference from that in the French FL textbooks. In this diagram I have compiled a list of the most frequent structural and function vocabulary (level 0) and combined this with the most frequent lexical vocabulary drawn from a source (Nation1984 lists) which include teaching vocabulary. Hence I hope it is comparable to francais fondamentale. This list is then compared with the lexis of the textbook taught to year 1 of the learners in the fist graph of Greek learners. Even though the time in class is quite comparable with the British learners, these learners have been exposed to a much smaller proportion of the most frequent vocabulary. Once you also take into account the fact that the EFL data is lemmatised and the French compiled by word families then the balance is even more even. A feature of these EFL texts is that frequent and infrequent lexis are combined in almost equal proportions and this is a result of the greater numbers of infrequent vocabulary because of the greater variety of thematic content.Perhaps because of this, the balance between frequent and infrequent vocabulary in the EFL texts is rather difference from that in the French FL textbooks. In this diagram I have compiled a list of the most frequent structural and function vocabulary (level 0) and combined this with the most frequent lexical vocabulary drawn from a source (Nation1984 lists) which include teaching vocabulary. Hence I hope it is comparable to francais fondamentale. This list is then compared with the lexis of the textbook taught to year 1 of the learners in the fist graph of Greek learners. Even though the time in class is quite comparable with the British learners, these learners have been exposed to a much smaller proportion of the most frequent vocabulary. Once you also take into account the fact that the EFL data is lemmatised and the French compiled by word families then the balance is even more even. A feature of these EFL texts is that frequent and infrequent lexis are combined in almost equal proportions and this is a result of the greater numbers of infrequent vocabulary because of the greater variety of thematic content.

    32. Greek learners of EFL 4 lexical sophistication (Milton 2009) Texts with high proportions of infrequent vocabulary allow large lexicons to be built The EFL text also aid the process of growing a large vocabulary by introducing reading texts of increasing lexical sophistication, that is, the reading text contain greater and greater proportions of infrequent words. For this graph I have taken the reading texts from 4 successive course books published by Express Publishing: Intermediate, Upper Intermediate, Advanced and Proficiency. And Ive calculated the proportion of words in these texts outside the most frequent 2000 words. You can see the level getting harder because the proportions of infrequent words increases with language level. Intermediate has fewest infrequent words and Proficiency most. To give you some idea of what the figures mean. Normal written text in English contains about 20% infrequent vocabulary. The intermediate level texts are slight easier, in lexical terms, than normal English writing. Its the sort of proportions of infrequent text you get from articles in something like Marie Claire magazine. The Upper Intermediate texts contain about 30% infrequent vocabulary and thats about the sort of level you would find I article in The Guardian newspaper. Thats a serious newspaper our undergraduates find it quite a hard read. The Proficiency texts with 40% infrequent vocabulary have the same level of lexical difficulty and things like articles in the Harvard law Review and thats thought to be a seriously tough read, for anyone.The EFL text also aid the process of growing a large vocabulary by introducing reading texts of increasing lexical sophistication, that is, the reading text contain greater and greater proportions of infrequent words. For this graph I have taken the reading texts from 4 successive course books published by Express Publishing: Intermediate, Upper Intermediate, Advanced and Proficiency. And Ive calculated the proportion of words in these texts outside the most frequent 2000 words. You can see the level getting harder because the proportions of infrequent words increases with language level. Intermediate has fewest infrequent words and Proficiency most. To give you some idea of what the figures mean. Normal written text in English contains about 20% infrequent vocabulary. The intermediate level texts are slight easier, in lexical terms, than normal English writing. Its the sort of proportions of infrequent text you get from articles in something like Marie Claire magazine. The Upper Intermediate texts contain about 30% infrequent vocabulary and thats about the sort of level you would find I article in The Guardian newspaper. Thats a serious newspaper our undergraduates find it quite a hard read. The Proficiency texts with 40% infrequent vocabulary have the same level of lexical difficulty and things like articles in the Harvard law Review and thats thought to be a seriously tough read, for anyone.

    33. Greek learners of EFL 5 EFL learners in Greece seem to take much more from the textbook than the British learners uptake averages at 50% and 7 words per contact hour The texts dont over-emphasise frequent vocabulary at the outset They have a more even balance of frequent and infrequent vocabulary They have vastly more thematic variety allowing more infrequent vocabulary to be taught And they increase the lexical sophistication of texts at the upper levels to allow exposure to more infrequent vocabulary But this still probably doesnt explain how really good learners acquire very large lexicons in the time that they do. EFL learners in Greece seem to take much more from their textbook material than the British learners do. On average learners will add about 50% of the words they encounter to their lexicons, remember tin Britain the figure was about 20%. And they seem to learn much faster at about 7 words per contact hour. One of the reasons is that the textbooks are qualitatively and quantitatively different in the vocabulary they contain. EFL textbooks it seems dont over-emphasise frequent vocabulary at the outset, they have a more even balance of frequent and infrequent vocabulary. They have vastly more thematic variety allowing more infrequent vocabulary to be taught and, in fact, teach more vocabulary. And they increase the lexical sophistication of texts at the upper levels to allow exposure to more infrequent vocabulary to aid the growth of the lexicon. Contrary to what Snow suggests, therefore, good teaching materials are very successful in teaching vocabulary and are probably key to advancing both the growth of the lexicon and the grown of language competence generally. But this still probably doesnt explain how really good learners acquire very large lexicons in the time that they do; the 10,000 words that really good learners have. There still isnt enough time in class for them to do this. So where do successful learners acquire so much vocabulary from? For the answer to this I think you have to look outside the classroom.EFL learners in Greece seem to take much more from their textbook material than the British learners do. On average learners will add about 50% of the words they encounter to their lexicons, remember tin Britain the figure was about 20%. And they seem to learn much faster at about 7 words per contact hour. One of the reasons is that the textbooks are qualitatively and quantitatively different in the vocabulary they contain. EFL textbooks it seems dont over-emphasise frequent vocabulary at the outset, they have a more even balance of frequent and infrequent vocabulary. They have vastly more thematic variety allowing more infrequent vocabulary to be taught and, in fact, teach more vocabulary. And they increase the lexical sophistication of texts at the upper levels to allow exposure to more infrequent vocabulary to aid the growth of the lexicon. Contrary to what Snow suggests, therefore, good teaching materials are very successful in teaching vocabulary and are probably key to advancing both the growth of the lexicon and the grown of language competence generally. But this still probably doesnt explain how really good learners acquire very large lexicons in the time that they do; the 10,000 words that really good learners have. There still isnt enough time in class for them to do this. So where do successful learners acquire so much vocabulary from? For the answer to this I think you have to look outside the classroom.

    34. Informal learning and vocabulary We encourage learners to take and use their language outside the classroom: Read foreign language newspapers Listen to foreign language radio Listen to foreign language pop songs Watch foreign language films What good do these activities do? One of the things we always encourage foreign language learners to do, is to try to continue their language study outside the classroom. Reading foreign language papers, watching foreign language films or TV, keeping a diary or listening to foreign language songs are all things I have seen recommended to learners, I have recommended them myself, and seen successful language learners use these techniques. But what use are they? Do learners really get much out of these activities and, in the context of this talk, do they get much vocabulary out of them? In Swansea weve had a program of running case studies to try to investigate the effect of techniques of this kind and gauge the vocabulary gains which might be made from this activity. The results turn out to be very interesting.One of the things we always encourage foreign language learners to do, is to try to continue their language study outside the classroom. Reading foreign language papers, watching foreign language films or TV, keeping a diary or listening to foreign language songs are all things I have seen recommended to learners, I have recommended them myself, and seen successful language learners use these techniques. But what use are they? Do learners really get much out of these activities and, in the context of this talk, do they get much vocabulary out of them? In Swansea weve had a program of running case studies to try to investigate the effect of techniques of this kind and gauge the vocabulary gains which might be made from this activity. The results turn out to be very interesting.

    35. Reading comic books Horst and Meara (1999) Learner given an illustrated Lucky Luke text in Dutch to read every week 6000 tokens Ill start with the earliest we carried out which involved the reading of a comic book. In this study a single learner, a native speaker of English, was given an illustrated Lucky Luke comic book in Dutch and was asked to read it through once every week for eight weeks. The learner was of a high intermediate standard and could handle the text while knowledge of the lexis it contained was far from complete. The content was illustrated in the pictures which accompanied the text, no translations or explanations of the unknown words were provided. The text itself comprised some 6000 tokens. It was a fairly substantial read, therefore, which took the learner, he reports, about an hour although this may be an under-estimate. Ill start with the earliest we carried out which involved the reading of a comic book. In this study a single learner, a native speaker of English, was given an illustrated Lucky Luke comic book in Dutch and was asked to read it through once every week for eight weeks. The learner was of a high intermediate standard and could handle the text while knowledge of the lexis it contained was far from complete. The content was illustrated in the pictures which accompanied the text, no translations or explanations of the unknown words were provided. The text itself comprised some 6000 tokens. It was a fairly substantial read, therefore, which took the learner, he reports, about an hour although this may be an under-estimate.

    36. Reading comic books 2 A pre-test on the lexis it contained identified the numbers of known and unknown words Learner tested every week for 8 weeks on 300 types (of 615) occurring once only in the text using a VKS 0 = I definitely dont know this word 1 = Im not really sure what this word means 2 = I think I know what it means 3 = I definitely know what this means The learner took a pre-test on the lexis contained in the text which identified the numbers of known and unknown words and these provided a base line from which vocabulary growth could be calculated. The study focussed on the 615 types which occurred once only in the text and the learner was tested every week, for 8 weeks, on 300 of these types. Knowledge was assessed using a Vocabulary Knowledge Scale where the learner was presented with each of the 300 test words in turn and was asked to rate his knowledge on a scale from 0 to 3The learner took a pre-test on the lexis contained in the text which identified the numbers of known and unknown words and these provided a base line from which vocabulary growth could be calculated. The study focussed on the 615 types which occurred once only in the text and the learner was tested every week, for 8 weeks, on 300 of these types. Knowledge was assessed using a Vocabulary Knowledge Scale where the learner was presented with each of the 300 test words in turn and was asked to rate his knowledge on a scale from 0 to 3

    37. Reading comic books 3 the results The figures we are interested in are really those in column 3. At the outset of learning there were 82 of the test words in state 3 indicating the subject knew these words. After eight weeks and eight readings of the text, this figure had increased to 223. learning is pretty regular although it tends to be concentrated at the outset.The figures we are interested in are really those in column 3. At the outset of learning there were 82 of the test words in state 3 indicating the subject knew these words. After eight weeks and eight readings of the text, this figure had increased to 223. learning is pretty regular although it tends to be concentrated at the outset.

    38. Reading comic books 4 what this means A good learner with a compatible task can learn about 30 words per hour over the 8 weeks A lot more at the early stages Compare: Incidental learning 2-3 words/hour (Horst, Cobb and Meara, 1998) Classroom learning 3-4 words/hour (Milton and Meara, 1998) Greek frontisteria learners 7 words/hour What this means is that some very considerable amounts of vocabulary appear to be learned. If this rate of acquisition is extrapolated and applied to all the words which the learner did not know at the outset of the exercise, this suggests that about 30 to 36 words per hour are learned, every hour for the duration of the project. A translation test suggested that over 90% of these words could be explained or translated and were not uncomprehendingly recognised. This is of a substantial order of difference from the rates of classroom and incidental learning given above.What this means is that some very considerable amounts of vocabulary appear to be learned. If this rate of acquisition is extrapolated and applied to all the words which the learner did not know at the outset of the exercise, this suggests that about 30 to 36 words per hour are learned, every hour for the duration of the project. A translation test suggested that over 90% of these words could be explained or translated and were not uncomprehendingly recognised. This is of a substantial order of difference from the rates of classroom and incidental learning given above.

    39. Listening to songs (Milton 2008) Learner given a CD with 23 Greek songs, the lyrics (2225 tokens) and translations In a different study we looked at learning from songs. A single subject, a native English speaker, learning Greek as a foreign language. The subject was given a CD of 23 songs from Greek films of the late 1950s and 1960s hence the picture of Aliki Vougiouklaki. He was provided with the words of the songs in Greek with an English equivalent version alongside. The CD lasted just over an hour. In a different study we looked at learning from songs. A single subject, a native English speaker, learning Greek as a foreign language. The subject was given a CD of 23 songs from Greek films of the late 1950s and 1960s hence the picture of Aliki Vougiouklaki. He was provided with the words of the songs in Greek with an English equivalent version alongside. The CD lasted just over an hour.

    40. Listening to songs 2 A pre-test on the lexis they contained identified the numbers of known and unknown words Learner tested every week for 8 weeks on 100 vocabulary types (of 314) occurring in the text using a VKS Post-test 3 months after learning, and translation test in week 4 The study had the same format as before. The subject took a pre-test then listened to the CD once a week for eight weeks reading and singing along. He was then tested each week to check progress. The final test included a translation test as well as the VKS self-assessment. A final test, three months after the end of the eight week learning period, was administered to check retention and attrition. The Greek lexis of the songs comprised 2225 tokens and 574 unlemmatised types. As a point of reference, this volume of lexis would be typical in a beginners EFL course book designed for about 60 hours tuition (Vassiliu, 2001). A preliminary test showed that the subject knew 1765 (79%) of these tokens and 260 (45%) of the types in the corpus. 100 of the 314 types in states 0 and 1, therefore not known by the subject, were selected for testing. The subject was presented with each of these 100 words in turn and asked to indicate on the Vocabulary Knowledge Scale of 0 3 how well they were known, as in Diagram 1. A translation test on 100 words not in the test battery was also administered after week 4 to add an additional measure of learning and to check on the effect of the testing process on the volume of learning.The study had the same format as before. The subject took a pre-test then listened to the CD once a week for eight weeks reading and singing along. He was then tested each week to check progress. The final test included a translation test as well as the VKS self-assessment. A final test, three months after the end of the eight week learning period, was administered to check retention and attrition. The Greek lexis of the songs comprised 2225 tokens and 574 unlemmatised types. As a point of reference, this volume of lexis would be typical in a beginners EFL course book designed for about 60 hours tuition (Vassiliu, 2001). A preliminary test showed that the subject knew 1765 (79%) of these tokens and 260 (45%) of the types in the corpus. 100 of the 314 types in states 0 and 1, therefore not known by the subject, were selected for testing. The subject was presented with each of these 100 words in turn and asked to indicate on the Vocabulary Knowledge Scale of 0 3 how well they were known, as in Diagram 1. A translation test on 100 words not in the test battery was also administered after week 4 to add an additional measure of learning and to check on the effect of the testing process on the volume of learning.

    41. Listening to songs 3 Results As might be expected the number of words in states 0 and 1, not known, diminishes progressively over the weeks and the number of words in state 3, definitely known, correspondingly rises. This signifies, as might be hoped, vocabulary learning during the period of listening to these songs. Learning is spread across the 8 weeks of the study although the greatest volume of vocabulary appears to have been learned at the outset.As might be expected the number of words in states 0 and 1, not known, diminishes progressively over the weeks and the number of words in state 3, definitely known, correspondingly rises. This signifies, as might be hoped, vocabulary learning during the period of listening to these songs. Learning is spread across the 8 weeks of the study although the greatest volume of vocabulary appears to have been learned at the outset.

    42. Listening to dongs 4 What this means Almost the same as the Lucky Luke reading task A good learner with a compatible task can learn about 30 words per hour over 8 weeks A lot more at the early stages Translation test in week 4, 100 words non included in the weekly test recognition test 49/100 translation test 48/100 By the end of the 8 weeks listening, about 8 hours of study in the loosest sense of the word, 77 of the 100 test items were learned. If extrapolated to the whole unknown vocabulary corpus this would represent the learning of 242 lexical items over these 8 hours, a rate of more than 30 words per hour. Thats comparable to the Lucky Luke study. And learning is not simply passive recognition of the words. The translation test suggests that overwhelmingly the meaning is known. And, in fact, the learner could recall the context of the words learned the collocations and associations, therefore, because whole phrase and whole songs had been learned. This seems to be a very fertile way of learning vocabulary.By the end of the 8 weeks listening, about 8 hours of study in the loosest sense of the word, 77 of the 100 test items were learned. If extrapolated to the whole unknown vocabulary corpus this would represent the learning of 242 lexical items over these 8 hours, a rate of more than 30 words per hour. Thats comparable to the Lucky Luke study. And learning is not simply passive recognition of the words. The translation test suggests that overwhelmingly the meaning is known. And, in fact, the learner could recall the context of the words learned the collocations and associations, therefore, because whole phrase and whole songs had been learned. This seems to be a very fertile way of learning vocabulary.

    43. Watching sub-titled DVDs (Milton 2008) Learner given a DVD of Xena Warrior Princess film, and subtitles in Greek (2390 tokens) In this reworking of the previous two studies, a single subject (the same subject as in the previous case study of songs) was given a DVD of Xena Warrior Princess. The learner watched the film with English audio and with Greek sub-titles. The film could be paused whenever needed to read the sub-titles. The film lasted about 100 minutes, but with pauses for reading, winding and rewinding, the exercise of watching this film took about two and a half hours per viewing. The Greek sub-titles contained 2390 tokens which, given the two and a half hour exercise, represents a less dense exposure to the foreign language than in the previous studies. In this reworking of the previous two studies, a single subject (the same subject as in the previous case study of songs) was given a DVD of Xena Warrior Princess. The learner watched the film with English audio and with Greek sub-titles. The film could be paused whenever needed to read the sub-titles. The film lasted about 100 minutes, but with pauses for reading, winding and rewinding, the exercise of watching this film took about two and a half hours per viewing. The Greek sub-titles contained 2390 tokens which, given the two and a half hour exercise, represents a less dense exposure to the foreign language than in the previous studies.

    44. Watching sub-titled DVDs 2 A pre-test on the lexis they contained identified the numbers of known and unknown words Learner tested every week for 3 weeks on 100 vocabulary types (of 382) occurring once only in the text using Yes/No format A pre-test on the Greek lexis identified the numbers of known and unknown words. 382 separate lemmatised types, occurring once only in the text, were unknown to the learner and 100 of these were selected for testing. The learner watched the film and was tested once a week for four weeks. The 100 test words were tested using a binary Known/Unknown format rather than the VKS.A pre-test on the Greek lexis identified the numbers of known and unknown words. 382 separate lemmatised types, occurring once only in the text, were unknown to the learner and 100 of these were selected for testing. The learner watched the film and was tested once a week for four weeks. The 100 test words were tested using a binary Known/Unknown format rather than the VKS.

    45. Watching sub-titled DVDs 3 Results In this case the column were interested is in the middle. New words are learned every week. After 3 weeks 41 of the 100 unknown words have been acquired In this case the column were interested is in the middle. New words are learned every week. After 3 weeks 41 of the 100 unknown words have been acquired

    46. Watching sub-titled DVDs 4 What this means About the same as the Lucky Luke reading task and the Greek songs A good learner with a compatible task can learn about 40 words per session over 4 weeks About 16 words per hour because the task was longer (100 minute film) and subtitling slows things down As in the previous two studies, this suggests that this exercise can produce vocabulary gains. If the results from the test words are extrapolated to all the unknown words in the film sub-titles, the subject appears to have acquired about 40 words per session, a rate of about 16 words per hour of study. As in the previous two studies, this suggests that this exercise can produce vocabulary gains. If the results from the test words are extrapolated to all the unknown words in the film sub-titles, the subject appears to have acquired about 40 words per session, a rate of about 16 words per hour of study.

    47. Second Life

    48. Learning from informal tasks 4 different activities but all produce very considerable vocabulary gains - much greater than classroom work which would include explicit vocabulary teaching Learners can see and chart progress Learners learn whole phrases and whole songs But Some very odd words indeed pitchfork, genie The activity does turn into a vocabulary activity with focus on form and high involvement load not remotely incidental The repeated listening/reading format lacks credibility with some teachers (but not learners) Three very different tasks, therefore, but with one great similarity which is that they all seem to be very efficient as mechanisms for gaining vocabulary in a foreign language. The experimental format actually had some very positive benefits for the learner. The repeated testing format, far from being intimidating or unattractive, was a real bonus. The learners in each case to track and see progress. Usually in foreign language it is very difficult to get a sense of making progress, it can be demotivating. But here the learner can see learning taking place. Just about every time to read a comic or listen to the songs, you can measure vocabulary gains. Learning seems to be quite deep so form and meaning are not merely learned but whole contexts are learned. And even if you get some odd words cropping up like pitchfork in Lucky Luke and genie in Xena, you also get access to quantities of the infrequent vocabulary which are so essential to building a big lexicon. These are not incidental activities, so learning is not incidental. This type of activity is often characterised as incidental but I think the term is badly misleading. The format means they are heavily focussed on vocabulary learning but they are still pleasant activities which the subjects enjoyed. And this conclusion endorses the sort of comment Laufer makes about the importance of focus on form in vocabulary learning - you have to take note of the words, their forms, their meanings and other feature, before learning can take place. And this probably endorses the involvement load hypothesis, the activities would involve the motivation the evaluation and search which Laufer and Hulstjn describe. Three very different tasks, therefore, but with one great similarity which is that they all seem to be very efficient as mechanisms for gaining vocabulary in a foreign language. The experimental format actually had some very positive benefits for the learner. The repeated testing format, far from being intimidating or unattractive, was a real bonus. The learners in each case to track and see progress. Usually in foreign language it is very difficult to get a sense of making progress, it can be demotivating. But here the learner can see learning taking place. Just about every time to read a comic or listen to the songs, you can measure vocabulary gains. Learning seems to be quite deep so form and meaning are not merely learned but whole contexts are learned. And even if you get some odd words cropping up like pitchfork in Lucky Luke and genie in Xena, you also get access to quantities of the infrequent vocabulary which are so essential to building a big lexicon. These are not incidental activities, so learning is not incidental. This type of activity is often characterised as incidental but I think the term is badly misleading. The format means they are heavily focussed on vocabulary learning but they are still pleasant activities which the subjects enjoyed. And this conclusion endorses the sort of comment Laufer makes about the importance of focus on form in vocabulary learning - you have to take note of the words, their forms, their meanings and other feature, before learning can take place. And this probably endorses the involvement load hypothesis, the activities would involve the motivation the evaluation and search which Laufer and Hulstjn describe.

    49. Conclusions The view of Snow that formal and classroom learning have no effect on vocabulary learning is plain wrong Instructed learning in the classroom appears very effective, always provided Appropriate materials are used Appropriate time is given Learners can become proficient Informal activities outside the classroom Can be tremendously effective May explain how native-like lexicons are grown A vindication of instructed vocabulary learning What are we to draw from this concerning the role of instructed language learning in the development of a FL lexicon? At the start of this lecture I drew attention to the school of thought that vocabulary learning was a subconscious process and that classroom and formal teaching had little or no role in the process. I hope what I have done is to assemble evidence so show how wrong this point of view is. Learners can clearly learn large amounts vocabulary in classroom situations provided, of course, they are given quality materials which makes lexis available to them. Learners can probably grow a large enough lexicon to become very proficient on the basis of this material alone provided sufficient time is made available in class. The 200 hours we make available for learning in British schools is clearly not enough for any type of competence to emerge. Successful materials will probably introduce a wide variety of thematic materials to allow sufficient infrequent vocabulary to emerge to grow a lexicon. And this should not, if natural and normal language is used in the textbooks and the classroom, detract from exposure to the vitally important frequent and structural But classroom input may not be enough to grow a FL lexicon to native like proportions but vocabulary uptake from the kind of informal activities weve just been looking at may very well explain how the gap is made up. And the nature of the materials and the learning that takes place may well also explain not just how the volumes of vocabulary needed are gained, but how the kind of links with other words which are needed for fluency emerge. The evidence we have is a real vindication of instructed vocabulary learning.What are we to draw from this concerning the role of instructed language learning in the development of a FL lexicon? At the start of this lecture I drew attention to the school of thought that vocabulary learning was a subconscious process and that classroom and formal teaching had little or no role in the process. I hope what I have done is to assemble evidence so show how wrong this point of view is. Learners can clearly learn large amounts vocabulary in classroom situations provided, of course, they are given quality materials which makes lexis available to them. Learners can probably grow a large enough lexicon to become very proficient on the basis of this material alone provided sufficient time is made available in class. The 200 hours we make available for learning in British schools is clearly not enough for any type of competence to emerge. Successful materials will probably introduce a wide variety of thematic materials to allow sufficient infrequent vocabulary to emerge to grow a lexicon. And this should not, if natural and normal language is used in the textbooks and the classroom, detract from exposure to the vitally important frequent and structural But classroom input may not be enough to grow a FL lexicon to native like proportions but vocabulary uptake from the kind of informal activities weve just been looking at may very well explain how the gap is made up. And the nature of the materials and the learning that takes place may well also explain not just how the volumes of vocabulary needed are gained, but how the kind of links with other words which are needed for fluency emerge. The evidence we have is a real vindication of instructed vocabulary learning.

    50. References Aizawa, K. (2006) Rethinking frequency markers for English-Japanese dictionaries. In Murata, M., Minamide, K., Tono, Y., and Ishikawa S. (eds) English Lexicography in Japan. Tokyo; Taishukan-shoten. 108-119. Alderson, J.C. (2005) Diagnosing Foreign Language Proficiency: The Interface between Learning and Assessment. London; Continuum. Ellis, R. (1994) The Study of Second Language Acquisition. Oxford; Oxford University Press. Goulden, R., Nation, I.S.P. and Read, J. (1990) How large can a receptive vocabulary be? Applied Linguistics. 11, 341-363. Harris, V. and Snow, D. (2004) Classic Pathfinder: Doing it for themselves: focus on learning strategies and vocabulary building. London; CILT. Horst, M. and Meara, P.M. (1999) Test of a model for predicting second language lexical growth through reading. The Canadian Modern Language Review/La Revue canadiennne des langues vivantes, 56, 2 (December/decembre), 308-328 Meara, P. (1992) EFL Vocabulary Tests. University College Swansea: Centre for Applied Language Studies. Milton, J. (2006) Language Lite: Learning French vocabulary in school. Journal of French Language Studies 16(2), 187-205. Milton, J. (2007) Lexical profiles, learning styles and construct validity of lexical size tests. In Daller, H., Milton, J. and Treffers-Daller, J. (eds) Modelling and Assessing Vocabulary Knowledge. Cambridge; Cambridge University Press, 45-58. Milton, J (2008) Vocabulary Uptake from Informal Learning Tasks. Language Learning Journal, 36(2), 227-238. Milton, J (2009) Measuring Second Language Vocabulary Acquisition. Bristol; Multilingual Matters. Milton, J. and Vassiliu, P. (2000). Frequency and the lexis of low-level EFL texts, in Nicolaidis, K. and Mattheoudakis, M. (eds) Proceedings of the 13th Symposium in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 444-455. Nation, I.S.P. (2006) How large a vocabulary is needed for reading and listening? The Canadian Modern Language Review. 63, 1 (September / septembre 2006), 59-82. Schmitt, N. (2008) Review article: instructed second language vocabulary learning. Language Teaching Research 12(3), 329-363. Schmitt, N. and Meara, P. (1997) Research vocabulary through a word knowledge framework word associations and verbal suffixes. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 19, 17-36. Seashore, R.H. and Eckerson, L.D. (1940) The measurement of individual differences in general English vocabulary. Journal of Educational Psychology. 31, 14-38. Richards, B.J., and Malvern, D.D. (2007) Validity and threats to the validity of vocabulary measurement. In Daller, H., Milton, J. and Treffers-Daller, J. (Eds.) Modelling and Assessing Vocabulary Knowledge. Cambridge; Cambridge University Press, 79-92.