Tokyo JALT:

Focus on Vocabulary: Three Presentations on Testing, Creating Wordlists, and Corpus Research

Date: Friday, September 9th, 2016 Time: 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Speaker: Tess Fitzpatrick (Cardiff University), Steve Morris (Swansea University), Dawn Knight (Cardiff University)

Join Tokyo JALT for an evening of 3 speakers (Professor Tess Fitzpatrick, Mr. Steve Morris, Dr. Dawn Knight) with a focus on vocabulary!

Making sense of vocabulary test scores
Vocabulary tests are popular with teachers and learners, and this is possibly because they seem to offer a quantitative way of measuring the inherently messy phenomenon of language knowledge. However, the apparent simplicity of vocabulary tests is deceptive; the constructs they measure are complex and challenging to identify, and interpreting scores in a meaningful way represents a significant challenge to teachers and researchers. This paper scrutinises learner performance on four tests of productive vocabulary knowledge and use: Lex30 (Meara and Fitzpatrick, 2000), the Lexical Frequency Profile (LFP, Laufer and Nation, 1995), and two new tests designed to investigate specific elements of knowledge targeted in those two widely-cited tests. Findings indicate that the tests do not capture and measure knowledge in equivalent ways, and this is investigated with reference to the tasks used to elicit vocabulary, and to the sampling processes employed by each test. This analysis informs a proposed model of vocabulary test 'capture', which can be used to support teachers and researchers in selecting fit-for-purpose vocabulary tests, and in interpreting the scores they yield.

Tess Fitzpatrick is Professor of Applied Linguistics in the Centre for Language and Communication Research at Cardiff University. She teaches undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and directs the distance-learning PhD programme in Applied Linguistics (Lexical Studies), supervising PhD dissertations in topics relating to vocabulary acquisition and use. Her published work includes papers and chapters on lexical processing in language learners, innovative teaching methods, vocabulary measurement tools, and word association applications. She is particularly interested in applying methods developed for second language acquisition research to the investigation of language attrition and communication disorder in other contexts. She is currently Chair of the British Association for Applied Linguistics.

Creating pedagogical wordlists without a corpus
The existence of major corpora for English and other dominant languages has a considerable influence on curriculum planning and development at all levels of teaching. An example of this is the use of corpus-based word frequency lists to determine target vocabulary for teaching and testing. In the context of a minoritised language such as Welsh which has no comprehensive corpus resource, must vocabulary lists be constructed using translations of frequency-based lists in the dominant language, or is it possible to formulate a more language-appropriate approach? This paper will firstly discuss how a dominant language methodology has been replicated to create pedagogical wordlists for adult learners of Welsh at A1 and A2 levels on the Common European Framework of Reference. The resulting wordlists are already being used to inform Welsh language curriculum development and language testing at these levels. Secondly, I will present a new methodology, based on principled use of word association data, that is being developed to expand coverage of the word lists to B1 level and beyond. The methodologies presented here ensure not only that the wordlists include vocabulary that adult learners are likely to encounter when engaging with the wider speech community, but also that they reflect the specific sociocultural situation of Welsh.

Steve Morris is Associate Professor of Welsh in the Department of Welsh at Swansea University. His teaching at undergraduate level is in the areas of language, the sociolinguistics of Welsh, translation and linguistics. Previously, he worked in the field of Welsh for Adults for over thirty years and many of his research interests are informed by this area including motivational studies and a recent Wales Government financed research project looking at the social networks of adult L2 Welsh speakers and models to increase their contact with the language. He has also worked closely with other applied linguists (in particular Professors Paul Meara and Tess Fitzpatrick) on creating A1/A2 and B1 level core vocabularies for adult learners of Welsh. He was recently appointed chair of the Welsh for Adults Scrutiny committee by the Welsh Government and is the current treasurer of the British Association for Applied Linguistics.

Innovations in corpus-based research
This presentation provides a discussion of recent innovations in corpus construction and enquiry, and outlines potential developments for the future of corpus-based language study. The paper draws directly on a range case studies from research I have carried out in the past decade including the use of corpus linguistics with discourse analysis (DA) for the study of 'big data' online; CL with conversation analysis (CA) in the examination of spoken interaction in small group teaching.

Dr Dawn Knight is a Reader at the Centre for Language and Communication Research (CLCR), Cardiff University. Her research interests lie predominantly in the areas of corpus linguistics, discourse analysis, e-language, multimodality and the socio-linguistic contexts of communication. Dawn is currently leading a major multi-institutional team of academics, programmers and Welsh language experts planning to construct the large-scale, open-source National Corpus of Contemporary Welsh (CorCenCC). The creation of CorCenCC is community-driven with impact being generated through a user-informed design, harnessing opportunities afforded by mobile technologies, specifically crowdsourcing and community collaboration.

Organization: Tokyo Chapter of the Japan Association for Language Teaching (Tokyo JALT)

Cost: JALT Members: free
Non-members: 1,000 yen

Venue: NYU School of Professional Studies (ALI) Tokyo Center, 22F, Shinagawa Intercity Tower A, 2-15-1 Konan, Minato-ku, Tokyo (map)

Location: Tokyo, Tokyo Metropolis, Japan


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