Sessions / Vocabulary
Developing an in-house corpus and high-frequency word list for science majors #2854
This reports on a work-in-progress of the development of an in-house corpus and high-frequency word list of the corpus for a Science and Engineering university in Japan. Students read scientific articles as part of their required English courses. However, in an informal survey, while some students were positive about the prospects of reading specialized academic articles in English, others felt that it would be too challenging. In order to bridge the difficulty gap, an in-house corpus of articles recommended by the science faculty and a high-frequency word list of the corpus are being developed. Interviews and surveys will be conducted with selected members of the science department to understand the nature of articles written in English that these members would recommend for graduate students. The articles will be gathered to create a corpus of one million words, and processed for high-frequency words using AntConc (Version 4.0.2) (Anthony, 2021) a free online vocabulary profiling software. These will be compared against the new academic word list and further analysed for specialized words. The findings will help to construct an informative vocabulary list for the students in graduate school, and in the future, this could be further refined for undergraduate students.
Exploring systematicity of spatial phrasal verb constructions for L2 learners of English #2874
This ongoing study investigates the systematicity and teachability of difficult spatial phrasal verb constructions (PVCs) for second language (L2) learners of English. Cognitive semantic research (e.g., Evans & Tyler, 2005; Mahpeykar, 2014; Shintani, Mori & Ohmori, 2016; Bong, 2019; Tyler, Jan, Mahpeykar, & Tullock, 2020) indicates that systematicity and teachability of PVCs have been a long-term focus of language teachers and applied linguistics, and continues to be of particular interest. For this current study, 41 1st-year university students in an English program in Japan completed a survey eliciting a range of difficult PVC usages. Analysis of the data reveals that correlations of participants’ first language (L1), linguistic complexity, PVC difficulty, prototypical and polysemous categorical properties demonstrate systematic features that can influence the teachability of English PVCs for L2 learners of English. The implications of this research on the systematicity of spatial PVCs could lead to enhanced teachability and thus may have an effect on L2 pedagogical practices.
High-frequency multi-word sequences and learners’ speech rate and listening #2830
The automation of multi-word sequences (MWSs) reduces the cognitive load required for fluent speech (Wood, 2010). However, this poses challenges for L2 learners because considerable phonological reduction occurs in high-frequency MWSs (Bybee, 2002). This study looks at whether attending to reductions during focused listening and speaking practice of the highest-frequency MWSs could help improve students’ spoken fluency and listening perception (accuracy). Over the course of 10 weeks, both a control group (N=17) and an experimental group (N=16) of Japanese L1 English language users studied 10 common bigram collocations each week, while the experimental group additionally studied sets of 10 phonologically reduced high-frequency trigrams. Both groups also described three picture stories that contained the target collocations in class and completed focused listening homework each week. Participants were tested for 1) gains in spoken fluency through both a free speaking and storytelling task and 2) ability to accurately complete a dictation listening task containing target MWSs. This presentation will discuss the study and results, which found a large advantage for the experimental group in spoken storytelling fluency but no statistically significant difference in free speaking fluency and listening perception.
Phonological Clustering: A different approach to L2 vocabulary instruction #2870
Traditionally, L2 vocabulary has been taught utilizing a thematically or semantically based approach (Waring, 1997). While this is likely the most practical way of teaching new words to L2 learners, according to a pioneering study by Wilcox and Medina (2013) semantically grouped words were found to have the lowest impact on word retention when compared with other methods of presentation. In contrast with semantically based approaches, phonological clustering is an approach that presents phonologically similar words to learners with the aims of raising their awareness of the shared phonological patterns between words and replicating the conditions in which the mental lexicon integrates new words into existing phonological schema. A major issue regarding the EFL context of English education in Japan is that learners are unlikely to be sufficiently exposed to the phonological patterns of the target language due to the “impoverished context” of the EFL classroom (Best and Tyler, 2007, p. 19). In light of this issue, the aims of this presentation are to discuss phonological theory and its implications for EFL vocabulary instruction and describe how the approach of phonological clustering could be applied to the presentation of materials in order to facilitate word retention and instructional practices.
The Digital Keyword Method in an Analog Classroom #2823
Despite the importance of lexical development for second-language learners, there seems to be confusion about the best way to teach vocabulary. The four main techniques for vocabulary acquisition mentioned in the literature are rote repetition, structure analysis, semantic strategies, and mnemonic devices (Cohen, 1987).
Although mnemonics have been used for at least 2,000 years (Caplan, 1954), it wasn’t until the mid-1960s that they began to be seriously studied scientifically (Cohen, 1987). This session will be concerned with one mnemonic technique in particular; the Keyword Method (Atkinson, 1975).
This presentation will report on a pilot study that used a one-group pretest-posttest design with 69 Japanese second-year university students who were taught a version of the Keyword Method for remembering vocabulary. A receptive vocabulary test was used as a pre- and posttest measure. Results showed a significant (p < .05) increase in vocabulary scores at the end of the semester, suggesting that an adapted version of the Digital Keyword Method (Sustenance, 2019) may be an effective way of teaching vocabulary in an analog classroom environment.
Facilitating English academic vocabulary learning using fictional graded readers #2715
Given the importance of learning L2 vocabulary in context (Webb, 2008), academic texts would seem to be the most useful way to support learners’ academic vocabulary learning. However, for teachers using word lists such as Coxhead’s (2000) academic word list (AWL), finding authentic materials with sufficient academic vocabulary range and frequency to support course-related academic vocabulary learning can be a challenge. Against this background, the presenter wrote a fictional graded reader series (‘The AWL Readers’) in an attempt to make English academic vocabulary learning more stimulating and (hopefully) more effective for his students.
The AWL Readers follow the adventures (and misadventures) of a fictional university student and her unusual friend, and include all 570 AWL words (with spaced repetition). One of the goals in creating the AWL Readers was to add to recent research which is rethinking the assumption that academic vocabulary learning should primarily be facilitated through reading academic (rather than fictional) texts (Krashen, 2010; McQuillan, 2020).
This presentation will discuss: (1) how and why the AWL Readers were created; (2) the results of our preliminary study into their effectiveness as a vocabulary learning tool; and (3) their possible usefulness in other teaching and learning contexts.
Making it personal: Meaningful vocabulary activities for the ESL classroom #2964
Vocabulary instruction through meaningful input and output is a bedrock of English language learning. Many common resources tend to lack a communicative component - much less any meaningful or memorable ways of instruction - and usually focus on matching or fill-in-the-blank style activities. Making vocabulary meaningful and memorable in the classroom by using activities that tap into a learner’s personal experience not only leads to a more lively and communicative classroom, but may contribute to better retention over time. Research has shown that this type of structured input and output can focus the learner’s attention to target elements of instruction; however, current practice has focused more on grammatical rather than lexical features. The English instructor is paramount in structuring the lexical content in order to create a personal experience for the language learner. This presentation will illustrate this process through a series of ‘personalization activities’ that have been structured to highlight target vocabulary and use it in a meaningful and memorable way. Moreover, tips and suggestions are shared for adapting and modifying existing resources to make them more personal.
(Re)imagining language learning: A new approach to academic vocabulary #2726
The 95% vocabulary comprehension level for academic texts and lectures is the crucial threshold for university study. To help learners attain this level, the presenters combined the headwords from the 4 major academic vocabulary lists to date: AWL (570 words), NAWL (963 words), UWL (836 words), and EAP (874 words). The resulting Global Academic Lexicon (GAV) presents the headwords from all four lists in 23 lessons. These lesson, comprising 1,850 words, progress from most frequently appearing to the least frequent. The pedagogical premise is efficacy: to lower the “learning burden” and learn the most commonly appearing words first (Nation, 2006). These lessons are now open-source and available to university teachers and students in Japan and around the world. Using free online Quizlet cards, they (1) provide the primary meaning of headwords in simple English and in Japanese, (2) demonstrate their “use in context” in sample sentences, and (3) offer a rich variety of flashcards, writing-listening-spelling practice, and competitive games for individual or group use. Presenters will demonstrate how lessons can be accessed and used autonomously, in online instruction, or in the physical classroom to motivate students, assess their learning, and give feedback on their progress.