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1 Size and Depth of Vocabulary: What Does the Research Show? Norbert Schmitt.

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1 1 Size and Depth of Vocabulary: What Does the Research Show? Norbert Schmitt

2 2 History Two year review of vocabulary studies pertinent to size vs. depth Results reported at AAAL 2012 Manuscript submitted to Language Learning 3 reviewers gave plenty of feedback Latest version: focus on conclusions

3 3 Size and Depth Vocabulary has often been characterized in terms of size vs. depth of knowledge The distinction is widespread, but one depth is not easy to pin down One reviewer states that depth is “the wooliest, least definable, and least operationalisable construct in the entirety of cognitive science past or present”

4 4 Size and Depth It is time to start thinking about this distinction more rigorously The various conceptualizations and measurements of depth make it difficult to start from a theoretical framework So start from an empirical perspective to inform the debate: –Review all studies that have a measurement of size and at least one measurement of depth

5 5 Vocabulary Size Size = the number of lexical items ‘known’

6 6 Vocabulary Size Size = the number of lexical items ‘known’ (to some criterion of mastery, i.e. depth)

7 7 Vocabulary Size Size = the number of lexical items ‘known’ (to some criterion of mastery, i.e. depth) Every size test is also a depth test in the sense that a certain criterion of mastery must be met

8 8 Vocabulary Depth Depth / Quality = How well do you know those items? What can you do with those items? Very broad: can be conceptualized and operationalized in a variety of ways

9 9 Size and Depth The relationship between size and depth depends on: How both are conceptualized How both are measured

10 10 Conceptualizing Depth Receptive vs. Productive Knowledge Usually connected with the 4 skills

11 11 Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening Depth could be seen as how well word can be employed in the four skills Vocabulary size correlates with all four skills But little research which shows how well individual lexical items are employed in the skills

12 12 What is Involved in Knowing a Word Nation (2001) Formspoken receptive/productive written  word parts Meaningform and meaning concept and referents associations Usegrammatical functions collocations constraints on use (register, frequency …)

13 13 Size and Depth Knowledge of all of the word knowledge aspects taken together can be conceptualized as a relatively comprehensive depth of knowledge But each aspect can be known to various degrees of mastery

14 14 Degree of Knowledge Schmitt, 2010a: 38

15 15 Vocabulary Depth So, improving knowledge of any individual word knowledge aspect can be considered as adding to depth Not an all-or-nothing concept Anything that improves mastery can be considered additional depth

16 16 Vocabulary Depth Depth = Degree of mastery of the form-meaning link Polysemous word meanings Derivations (word family members) Collocations Other word knowledge aspects but were not found in research in conjunction with a size measure

17 17 Vocabulary Depth Depth in this conceptualization concerns individual lexical items Only a small number of items can ever be measured, so unclear how generalizable the depth measures can be

18 18 Conceptualizing Size and Depth Meara and Wolter, 2004: 89

19 19 Lexical Organization Concerns lexicon as a whole rather than individual lexical items Depth could be seen as any of the word knowledge connections between items But how to measure it? Word associations –Difficult to interpret –Idiosyncratic to individuals –Good measure of organization? –WAF main measure, but ?

20 20 Lexical Fluency Daller, Milton, and Treffers-Daller (2007) see fluency as a separate dimension Can see fluency as depth (i.e. depth does not have to be knowledge, but can be seen as employability (skills, automaticity)

21 21 Recognition and Recall of the Form-Meaning Link Laufer and Paribakht (1998) VLT (form recognition) PVLT (form recall) Recall-recognition r=.89 (EFL: Israeli high school).72 (ESL: Canadian university) PVLT ÷ VLT ratio EFL% ESL% Combined , , , ,

22 22 Depth of Form-Meaning Link As vocabulary size increases (and frequency level decreases), the recall/recognition gap increases Learners are more likely to have both form recognition and form recall mastery at the higher frequencies (i.e. smaller gap) Less likely to have form recall mastery at the lower frequency levels (i.e. form recognition mastery only) Form recall lags both form recognition and meaning recall

23 23 Knowledge of Written vs. Spoken Word Forms van Zeeland (2013) used a meaning recall interview to measure the written and spoken vocabulary knowledge of advanced L2 learners Results showed a stronger correlation between written and spoken word knowledge than found by Milton and Hopkins (2006) (r =.85 vs..68). The relationship between learners’ knowledge of written and spoken vocabulary furthermore remained constant as overall scores increased These results suggest that knowledge of vocabulary in the two modes may be more closely related than suggested by checklist test results (Milton and colleagues)

24 24 Depth of Spoken-Written Mastery Some evidence that very small vocabularies might be mainly known phonologically Somewhat larger vocabulary sizes shift to being known predominately orthographically ? Advanced learners tend to have relatively balanced spoken/written vocabularies, while lower-level students are prone to the type of imbalanced vocabularies found by Milton and colleagues?

25 25 Knowledge of Derivatives Correlations between size and derivation/suffix knowledge Schmitt and Meara (1997) r –recall of suffix derivation.27 and.35 –Recognition of suffix derivation.37 and.41 Kieffer and Lesaux (2008) – recall of derivation.53 and.46 Kieffer and Lesaux (2012) –recall of derivation Noro (2002) –recall function of affix.42,.54,.69 Mochizuki and Aizawa (2000) –recall function of affix

26 26 Knowledge of Derivatives Milton (2009) reviews Mochizuki and Aizawa’s results and concludes: A vocabulary size of 3,000-5,000 families is necessary for affixes to be mastered But even at 5,000 families, some affixes may not be known well

27 27 Depth of Derivative Knowledge Size is only modestly related to knowledge of affixes and derivatives (system learned before items?) Milton suggests that a threshold might exist (3,000-5,000 families?)

28 28 Knowledge of Collocation Gyllstad (2007) high-proficiency Swedish ESL VLT 2 collocation tests –COLLEX 5: a 3-option form recognition test –COLLMATCH 3: a yes/no collocation judgement Size - collocation (r=.90) 10,000 families  >90% on both collocation tests 5,000 families ≈ 85% 3,000 families ≈ 70% With larger vocabulary sizes, it is possible to recognize collocations well

29 29 Knowledge of Collocation Laufer and Waldman (2011) review the literature and conclude: –receptive knowledge is related to general vocabulary knowledge –productive knowledge of collocation lags behind knowledge of individual words –the problem with collocations is not recognition, but in using them properly, i.e. productive mastery

30 30 Lexical Fluency Laufer and Nation (2001) Israeli university VORST (computerized, timed, modified VLT) There was an increase in lexical access speed at a vocabulary size of around 5,000 word families The larger the vocabulary size, the faster the access speed 2,000 – speed (r = -.38) 3,000 – speed (r = -.40) 5,000 – speed (r = -.50) 10,000 – speed (r = -.67)

31 31 Depth of Automaticity The larger the vocabulary size, the faster the access speed The larger the vocabulary size (and the lower the frequency level) the stronger the relationship between size and fluency Hint of a threshold: there is an increase in lexical access speed at a vocabulary size of around 5,000 word families

32 32 Lexical Organization Henriksen (2008) Danish high school Grades VLT – association recognition.72n.s.n.s. VLT – association recall The relationship between size and association is stronger at lower grades than more advanced ones Since the students had increasing vocabulary sizes at all three grades, we can also interpret the results to show a stronger size-association relationship for smaller vocabulary sizes than larger ones

33 33 Lexical Organization Greidanus, et al. (2004) Advanced Dutch learners of French Form recognition and form recall New WAF (paradigmatic, syntagmatic, and analytic) Form recognition – association (r=.70) Form recall – association (r=.81)

34 34 Lexical Organization Size – association correlations Overall, fairly strong correlations

35 35 Lexical Organization Size – association correlations Association recall Association recognition (WAF)

36 36 Lexical Organization Size – association correlations Lower vocabulary size Larger vocabulary size

37 37 Lexical Organization 3 studies showed a trend for larger vocabulary sizes having stronger size – association correlations 2 studies showed a trend for larger vocabulary sizes having weaker size – association correlations

38 38 Lexical Organization 3 studies showed a trend for larger vocabulary sizes having stronger size – association correlations 2 studies showed a trend for larger vocabulary sizes having weaker size – association correlations Does larger size relate to better lexical organization? Evidence seems mixed at this point (Problems with measuring organization?)

39 39 Tentative Conclusions Does greater vocabulary size relate to greater depth of vocabulary knowledge? Yes, generally But how strongly depends on what ‘depth’ is

40 40 Tentative Conclusions How one views the size-depth relationship should depend on one’s purpose of use If one wishes to discuss the nature of vocabulary in general, particularly with practitioners, then the distinction is useful

41 41 Tentative Conclusions If one’s purpose is to characterize vocabulary knowledge in more precise terms: –theorizing –designing and interpreting research –assessment Depth is probably too vague a term to be useful Need to state lexical aspect addressed and focus on that

42 42 Tentative Conclusions Virtually all aspects of vocabulary knowledge seem interrelated This makes it difficult to discuss any particular conceptualization of depth in isolation This makes it difficult to conceptualize overall depth as anything but the combined interrelationships between word knowledge aspects

43 43 Tentative Conclusions The most widely-used vocabulary tests are size tests, and they typically describe their results as the number of words ‘known’ But they do not define what this actually entails Test developers need to explicitly state what correct answers on their tests entail, and what degree of depth they represent

44 44 Tentative Conclusions There can be no clear conceptual distinction between size and depth Size by definition is the number of lexical items ‘known’ to some criterion level of mastery But the criterion will always be some measure of depth, and so the two will always be confounded

45 45 Questions / Comments Comments to help me understand size/depth better? ? Size? Depth?


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