TESOL 2013 POWERPOINT - Academic Vocabulary

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TESOL Dallas March 2013
Academic Vocabulary
What is it and how can it be incorporated
into a language teaching program?
Diane Schmitt
Vocabulary has traditionally been divided
into four main types:

General

Academic

Technical

Low Frequency
(Nation, 2001)
General Vocabulary


the 2000 most frequent words of English
provide 80% coverage of most texts
arrive, discuss, follower, impossible,
leader, message, repeat, story
Academic Vocabulary


a list of 570 frequently occurring words in academic
texts
provides approximately 8-12% coverage of
academic texts
attribute, category, environment, function,
internal, monitor, perspective, widespread
Technical Vocabulary


words that occur with very high or moderate
frequency level within a limited range of texts
provides 5% coverage of most texts
audit, capital, distribution, metrics,
principal agent, shareholder, supply
Low Frequency Vocabulary


words at the 2,000 - 20,000 frequency level and
beyond
provides 5% coverage of most texts
abject, credentials, genealogy,
geomorphic, incarcerate, palpitate, rupture
Relevance for teaching EAP





Teach the most frequent 2000 words
Teach the AWL/sub-technical vocabulary, if students
are going on to academic study
Teach the technical words of a subject after the first
two sets of words have been learned
Or learners can/will learn technical words once they
begin their subject studies or enter their field of work
Teach strategies for low-frequency words
Allan, S. (1999). News Culture.
Open University Press.
Frequency
List
1-1000
Families
Types
Tokens
Percent
489
758
4551
69.38%
1001-2000
Sub-total
AWL
Off-List
Total
127
167
281
262
?
878+
400
574
1890
834
894
6560
4.28%
73.66%
12.71%
13.63%
100%
‘EAP’ Textbooks – OUP
‘EAP’ Textbooks - Pearson
It’s more complicated than that!




Challenges to the AWL
Alternative Definitions of Academic Vocabulary
Mutual Exclusivity of Vocabulary Categories
Lexical Validity
Challenges to the AWL
(Hyland and Tse, 2007)




One word list cannot serve students of different
disciplines equally well
Disciplines have their own preferred patterns of use
for words – meaning sense, form, lexical and
grammatical patterning
Homographs and word families distort the usefulness
of the AWL and create an extra learning burden for
no discernable gain
Vocabulary is not always acquired in the teaching
sequence proposed by Nation
Critiques of the AWL

“[General academic word lists fail] to engage with
current conceptions of literacy and EAP, ignore
important differences in the collocational and
semantic behavior of words, and do not correspond
with the ways language is actually used in
academic writing. [They] …could seriously mislead
students.” (Hyland and Tse, 2007: 236-237)
Discipline specific behaviour of words



Inflectional forms display distinctly different
distributional profiles across disciplines (or subdisciplines) (Ward, 2009)
Different meaning senses will be differentially
preferred across disciplines (Hyland and Tse, 2007)
Collocational patterning differs from discipline to
discipline. This affects word meaning.
 marketing strategy, learning strategy, coping
strategy - Hyland and Tse, (2007)
 blueberry cell culture, cultures were grown - Martinez
et al, (2009)
Discipline specific behaviour of words/or shared
qualities (Granger and Paquot, 2010)
Disciplinary differences for the use of analyze
VESPA Corpus developed at CECL University of Louvain, Belgium
Definitions of analyze from Hyland and Tse (2007)
Hard Sciences – methods of determining the constituent
parts or composition of a substance
Social Sciences -consider something carefully
Discipline specific behaviour of words/or
shared qualities (Granger and Paquot, 2010)
Disciplinary similarities for the use of analyze
VESPA Corpus developed at CECL University of Louvain, Belgium
Core meaning – to examine data using specific methods or
tools in order to make sense of it
Alternative definitions of academic
vocabulary
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Items which express notions shared by all or several
specialised disciplines – factor, method
Items which have a specialised meaning in one or more
disciplines – bug, solution
Items which are not used in general language but which have
different meanings in several specialised disciplines morphological
Items which are traditionally viewed as general language
vocabulary but which have restricted meanings in certain
specialised disciplines – “genes are expressed”
General language items which are used, in preference to
other semantically equivalent items, to describe or comment
on technical processes and functions – “digestion takes place”
Alternative definitions of academic
vocabulary
6.


Items which are used in specialised texts to perform specific
rhetorical functions – explanation, pointed out
(Baker, 1988)
Words that “have in common a focus on research, analysis
and evaluation” (Martin, 1976)
Vocabulary that serves specific rhetorical and
organisational functions in expert academic writing
(Paquot, 2010)
Traditional vocabulary categories
are not mutually exclusive





The GSL/2000 most frequent words of English tend to have
multiple meaning senses. Some of which are academic/subtechnical or technical in nature
AWL vocabulary occurs outside of academic contexts
‘Technicalness’ is a functional aspect of a word so words can
only usefully be categorized in light of the context of use
Frequency is relative and depends on the size and specificity
of a domain. Sub-technical and technical vocabulary may be
‘high frequency’ in a particular domain, but ‘low frequency’ in
a general corpus
“Disciplines are lexically idiosyncratic” (Ward, 2009: 173)
AWL in the BNC Lists
Four step rating scale for identifying
technical words (Chung and Nation, 2004)




Step 1 – Words such as function words that have no particular
relationship with a field of study
 amount, common, early
Step 2 – Words that have a meaning that is minimally related
to a field of study
 superior, supports, protects
Step 3 – Words that have a meaning closely related to the
field of study, but which also occur in general language
 abdomen, cavity, muscles
Step 4 – Words that have a meaning specific to a field and
are not likely to be know in general language
 thorax, periostuem, viscera
Coverage of technical words in
specialized texts (Chung and Nation, 2003)
Vocabulary Level
Anatomy Text
1st 2000
239,790 (53.3%)
Applied Linguistics
Text
63,992 (68.5%)
AWL
16,554 (3.7%)
6,422 (6.9%)
Technical Words
140,400 (31.2%)
19,208 (20.6%)
Low Frequency
Words
Total Word Families
53,256 (11.8%)
3,803 (4.0%)
450,000 (100%)
93,445 (100%)
Coverage of technical words in
specialized texts (Chung and Nation, 2003)
Vocabulary Level
Anatomy Text
1st 2000
239,790 (53.3%)
Applied Linguistics
Text
63,992 (68.5%)
AWL
16,554 (3.7%)
6,422 (6.9%)
Technical Words
140,400 (31.2%)
(35.6%) (64.4%)
19,208 (20.6%)
(88.4%) (11.6%)
Low Frequency
Words
Total Word Families
53,256 (11.8%)
3,803 (4.0%)
GSL/AWL
450,000 (100%)
93,445 (100%)
vocabulary
Development of ESP/EAP word lists





2000 word Engineering list – Ward, (1999) – corpus
of engineering textbooks – foundation level students
1200 word Engineering list – Mudraya (2006) –
corpus of basic engineering textbooks – university
students
623 word Medical AWL – Wang et al (2008) –
corpus of research articles – for learners and users of
English for Medical Purposes
123 word Agricultural list – Martinez et al (2009) –
corpus of research articles – experienced in discipline
970 word Academic Keyword List – Paquot (2010) –
general academic word list
Issues with word lists for specific
purposes
Level of specificity
 Academic Study
 Science and Technology
 Discipline or Field - Engineering
 Subject – Mechanical engineering
 Occupational/Work
 Airline Industry
 Flight
 Pilots, Air Traffic Controllers
Issues with word lists for specific
purposes
Learners in academic study
 Level of existing knowledge of the field




Foundation, upper undergraduate, graduate
Immediate and long term goals
Current level of language proficiency
Acquisition patterns

Do ESP learners follow the norms of general English
learners?
“Our learners are clear examples of learners who acquire
their English as they need it for their specific
purpose…although they are usually unaware of even basic
grammatical rules” (Martinez et al, 2009)
‘lexical validity’ (PTE Academic)


the extent to which the vocabulary occurring in, and elicited
by, the test is representative of the vocabulary that test
takers will encounter and be expected to produce, in realworld academic contexts.
“According to Paul Nation, authentic academic English texts
typically contain at least 4% of AWL words. The results
show that, according to this criterion, the test is academic in
quality, both in respect of the language that it presents to
test takers, and the language which it elicits.”
http://www.pearsonpte.com/research/Documents/RS_InvestigatingLexicalValidity
OfPTEAcademic_2010.pdf
Is this text academic?
Are these academic?
A
B
C
D
A sample essay prompt
for students of media studies

How does the media influence the immigration
debate?
(asylum, refugees, migrant workers)
A sample essay prompt
for students of media studies

How does the media influence the immigration
debate?
(asylum, refugees, migrant workers)
Purpose


The purpose for which a text is used (rather than for
which it was originally written) will determine
whether or not a text is “academic” or not
This will impact on which vocabulary words students
will need to know (at least receptively)
What do we mean when we say
something is academic?
Fiction
News/
Magazines
EFL
Exams
EAP
Writing
Textbooks
Freshman
Comp
Journals
Disciplinary
Writing
MSc in Human Resource Management
From Text Selection to
Teaching and Learning
Relationship between vocabulary size
and text coverage
100
80
70
60
Mean
50
+1 SD
40
-1 SD
30
20
10
10
0%
99
%
98
%
97
%
96
%
95
%
94
%
93
%
92
%
91
%
0
90
%
Comprehension Percentage
90
Vocabulary Coverage
(Schmitt, Jiang & Grabe, 2011)
General guidance for independent use
Nation (2006) analyzed nine written and spoken
corpora. He used the 98% figure to calculate
vocabulary size requirements:
 6,000 - 7,000 word families for spoken
discourse
 8,000 - 9,000 word families for written discourse
Instructional Contexts
95% coverage (Laufer and Ravenhorst-Kalovski,2004)
 4,000-5000 word families for written discourse

Vocabulary coverage for business texts
(Hsu, 2011)
How much coverage do our categories
provide?

High frequency + AWL + technical often ≠ 95%98% coverage
(Chung and Nation, 2003; Fraser 2005; Wang, Liang
and Ge, 2008; Lessard-Clouston, 2010;)
Coverage of technical words in
specialized texts (Chung and Nation, 2003)
Vocabulary Level
Anatomy Text
Applied Linguistics
Text
1st 2000
239,790 (53.3%)
63,992 (68.5%)
AWL
16,554 (3.7%)
6,422 (6.9%)
Technical Words
140,400 (31.2%)
(35.6%) (64.4%)
19,208 (20.6%)
(88.4%) (11.6%)
Low Frequency
Words
53,256 (11.8%)
3,803 (4.0%)
coverage
Total Word Families 88.2%
450,000
(100%)
96% coverage
93,445 (100%)
Vocabulary size targets
If language teachers/materials teach and use…
 high frequency vocabulary: 2000 word families +
 academic vocabulary: 570 word families
Coverage shortfall
 6000 – 2570 ≈ 3500 word families listening
 8000 – 2570 ≈ 5500 word families reading
Considering the role of mid-frequency
vocabulary (Schmitt and Schmitt, 2012)
Hi-frequency
vocabulary
Low frequency
vocabulary
Mid-frequency
3,001 – 8,999
3,000
families
9,000
families
Mid-frequency vocabulary


Words at the 3000-9000 frequency levels
provides 98% coverage of most texts
Subsumes the AWL and much technical
vocabulary
Words work together


“Technical vocabulary ‘is dependent for a full
appreciation of its meaning on the meaning of the
other terms in the cluster of which it is a member.’”
(Godman and Payne, 1981:37 in Coxhead and
Nation, 2001)
Academic discourse contains large amounts of
deliberate definition.
 Thus, it is important to ensure that learners
recognize that definition is occurring and have
mastery of the vocabulary used in the definitions.
What can learners do with any particular
vocabulary size?
250 words or fewer – read graded readers
 2-3,000 words - understand defining
vocabulary of learner dictionaries
 2-3,000 words – participate in daily conversation
NOT total vocabulary size,
 3,000 – use TV and movies for teaching/learning
but mastery of each of these frequency bands
 5,000 words – read authentic texts w/assistance
 6-7,000 words – understand a wide range of oral
discourse without assistance
 8-9,000 words – understand a wide range of
written discourse

Grading learning materials

Control vocabulary at the lower levels to ensure
that coverage levels for texts do not fall below
95%

Seed materials at middle and upper levels with
mid-frequency vocabulary to ensure that there
are enough recurrences for learning to take
place
Academic Learning Materials
Sample for Writing with Sources
Writing from sources begins with
reading
Reading Constructs
 Reading for basic comprehension
 recall
 summarization
 text-based multiple choice questions
 Reading to learn – connecting new information with background
knowledge
 recognition of text structure
 create a representation of content knowledge
 Reading to integrate
 link texts with regard to their individual text structure
 link content knowledge from a single text with that from one or more
texts
(Trites and McGroarty, Language Testing, 2005)
Sample Task - Lying


Syllabus Goal:
 Students will write an essay where they are required to
incorporate information from source texts
Learning focus:
 Students are not blank slates. Raise students’ awareness that
they do hold views on academic topics.
 Reading around a topic to gain new information and integrate
it into existing knowledge/understanding base
 Oral reporting and summarizing
 Introduction and recycling of mid-frequency vocabulary
 Fluency practice
Source Texts

All of the following had texts on the topic of lying




ANA in-flight magazine Wingspan
 Would I lie to you
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry web
pages
 Children and Lying
Psychology Today
 The Truth about Lying: Has it gotten a bad rap
Basic and Applied Social Psychology
 Liking and Lying
Activity One


Speaking
 In small groups, invite students to share their views
on the topic – Are people who lie morally flawed?
Reading



All students read the short article “Would I lie to you”
Students should continue small group discussion with the following focus:
How does the information from the reading affect the views you
expressed earlier?
Ask a group representative to report on how the article related to the
views of members of their group. Were already held views reinforced
or supported; were they refuted? How similar or different was the
affect on individual group members?
Activity Two – Extensive Reading

Reading and Speaking
 In small groups, invite students to share their views
on the topic – Are people who lie morally flawed?
 Students read all three remaining readings on the
topic of lying.
 Between each reading students orally (or in
writing) reflect on their evolving views on the topic.
 Assign an essay on the topic “Discuss the notion
that lying is morally wrong in light of research
findings.
Make a Text Chain - Lying
Text
1
2
3
4
Total
families*
75
162
657
233
Mid-freq
Families**
2
17
139
35
Percent
2.6%
10.5%
21.2%
* Includes families from 1,000 - 20,000
** 3,000 – 9,000 frequency levels
15.0%
Make a Text Chain - Lying
Text
1
2
3
4
Total
types
91
196
910
308
Types
recycled
-
30
(15.3%)
133
(14.6%)
165
(53.6%)
Where do we go from here?

Start by finding out how much vocabulary your
students already know

Include vocabulary assessment in your placement,
mid-course and end of course assessments
Vocabulary Profile Test
VLTSchmitt,
Schmitt &
Clapham,
(2001)
Available at:
www.lextutor.ca/tests/
Where do we go from here?

Set vocabulary targets separately from your
textbooks – ensure these correspond to your
students’ needs

Be ambitious for your students

50 words per week X 40 weeks = 2000 words per
year (Grabe, 2009)
Where do we go from here?

Use frequency information to guide vocabulary
choices for teaching

Words needed to understand/do the text/activity can
be glossed

Remember 2000 + AWL is not enough

Supplement your textbooks to ensure that
students get more exposure to the words you
want to focus on at each level
Make use of vocabulary tools
Make use of vocabulary tools
Make use of vocabulary tools
In sum…





Whether or not a text is academic depends on its
purpose
Students will encounter a range of text types in
their university studies
Students need to be aware of the lexicogrammatical differences between text types
Students need to develop a large vocabulary
Word lists can help to focus teaching and fast track
development in reading or writing
Thank you for your attention.
[email protected]
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