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Vocabulary measures in a Language Framework James Milton University of Wales Swansea, UK.

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Presentation on theme: "Vocabulary measures in a Language Framework James Milton University of Wales Swansea, UK."— Presentation transcript:

1 Vocabulary measures in a Language Framework James Milton University of Wales Swansea, UK

2 Outline What is the CEFR and what is it and its framework of levels meant to do? Does it do it? What happens when you fit vocabulary size measures into it? What aspects of L1 vocabulary knowledge could usefully be put into a Language of the School Framework?

3 The Council of Europe says of the FL Framework: Developed through a process of scientific research and wide consultation, this document provides a practical tool for setting clear standards to be attained at successive stages of learning and for evaluating outcomes in an internationally comparable manner. The Framework provides a basis for the mutual recognition of language qualifications, thus facilitating educational and occupational mobility. It is increasingly used in the reform of national curricula and by international consortia for the comparison of language certificates. A recent European Union Council Resolution (November 2001) recommended the use of this Council of Europe instrument in setting up systems of validation of language competences.

4 CEF and Council of Europe levels CEF levelGeneral language level A1Breakthrough A2Waystage B1Threshold B2Vantage C1Effective Operational Proficiency C2Mastery

5 Approach to levels description [the CEFR] should describe a full range of language knowledge, use and skills … The approach adopted is action-orientated Language use comprises the actions performed by persons (no similar discussion exists for knowledge or skills – at least, not in the Framework document)

6 ALTE “Can Do” descriptors Vantage Level – B2 Listening and Speaking ReadingWriting CAN follow or give a talk on a familiar topic or keep up a conversation on a fairly wide range of topics CAN scan texts for relevant information, and understand detailed instructions or advice CAN make notes while someone is talking or write a letter including non- standard requests

7 CEF document - Vantage … sustain his opinions in discussion providing … relevant explanations, arguments and comment … construct a chain of reasoned argument … … more than holding your own in discourse …converse naturally, fluently and effectively, understand in detail what is said … keep the turn whilst formulating … [converse] without unintentionally amusing or irritating [native- speakers] … able to self correct.. Relate own contributions skilfully to those of other speakers. Can use circumlocution and paraphrase to cover gaps in lexical knowledge

8 CEF and Cambridge ESOL levels CEF levelCambridge A1Starters, Movers & Flyers A2KET B1PET B2FCE C1CAE C2CPE

9 CEF and other FL exams CEF levelCambridge ESOLFrench in UK A1Starters etc A2KETGCSE Lower B1PETGCSE Higher B2FCE‘A’ Level C1CAE C2CPEBA in French?

10 Vocabulary and competence There is a strong relationship between word frequency and the likelihood that a word will be learned Frequent words contribute disproportionately to text coverage Coverage is strongly connected to comprehension and language competence A strong relationship between vocabulary size and language level (reading and writing) English and French are very similar

11 Coverage plus French 80% coverage = gist comprehension 95-98% coverage = full comprehension

12 CEF and vocabulary levels CEF levelCambridge ESOLVocab size/5000 A1Starters etc<1500 A2KET B1PET B2FCE C1CAE C2CPE

13 CEF and vocabulary levels CEF levelFrenchVocab size/5000 A1 A2GCSE Lower850 B1GCSE Higher850 B2‘A’ level1920 C1 C2BA in French3300

14 CEF levelESOLFrench A1<1500 A B B C C

15 Explaining the difference The existing levels descriptors can disguise very different competence across languages The Framework is not robust enough to allow meaningful equivalences between language level and exams to be drawn with confidence The “can do” descriptors are too bland A Framework, if it is to be useful, MUST be more robust if it is to have credibility Vocabulary measure can (help) add this They can work just as well in L1 as in FLs

16 L1 vocabulary growth Very young learners learn 50 – 350 words in the holophrastic phase At age 3 – words in active vocabulary Age 6 – lemmas Learners add words per year University entrants in UK - c.9,000 word families Graduate students in UK – c.13,000 word families Quick and easy tests in construction and use

17 Using this information Build a framework of vocabulary size Annual growth At Keystages – minimum lexical knowledge tied to competences identifying cognitive rather than chronological development – predicts academic success identifying social disadvantage the appropriate loading and sequencing of teaching materials

18 Using this information identifying readiness of higher study University entry Ability to read books in a canon or textbooks Shrek – 6000 words 95% coverage 20 th Century English fiction – words Textbook – words for 95% coverage

19 Understanding multilingual performance Young multilingual students often characterised as slow in LE development – may be the effect of growing 2 lexicons Possible to understand and compensate for the learning pressure of two languages Can suggest solutions Bilinguals often lack the lexis in English Academic vocabulary (AWL words outside the most frequent 2000 words which contribute 8.5% to coverage)

20 Conclusion Vocabulary measures are not normally considered by school language teachers or included in school standards frameworks vocabulary measurements could be included in such frameworks the lesson of the foreign language framework is that it would be very much to the benefit of a framework system if they were And they can offer many other useful insights


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