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Centre for Research in Language & Literacy (Vocabulary Studies) Seminar with external speaker Benjamin Kremmel (University of Innsbruck)

Event details

Measuring vocabulary knowledge: Issues in developing, using and researching vocabulary tests

External Speaker: Benjamin Kremmel (University of Innsbruck)

Vocabulary tests are a popular tool for foreign language teachers, learners, and even researchers of second language acquisition to aid or investigate foreign language learning. Most of us will have taken numerous vocabulary tests by the end of our instructed foreign language learning. They come in all shapes and sizes, such as the Vocabulary Size Test (Nation & Beglar, 2007), the Vocabulary Levels Test (Schmitt, Schmitt & Clapham, 2001), or Yes/No Tests (e.g. Meara & Buxton, 1987, Lemhoefer & Broersma, 2012). However, we hardly ever question what their scores actually tell us about our mental lexicon. What does a particular score, number, or percentage actually mean in terms of how many words we know, how well we know them, or how we might be able to use them in communication? 

In this talk, I will outline some of my research that tries to understand vocabulary test scores better to make future tests more meaningful for language learners. I will provide a general overview of key concerns in measuring vocabulary knowledge, such as questions about what we consider to be “vocabulary” and “vocabulary knowledge” and will then discuss issues of test format, counting units, item sampling, and cognates, and how they relate to score interpretation and the need for validation research.