Validating a test to measure depth of vocabulary knowledge teen dating adivice
Contextual factors include the importance of the unknown word to comprehension of the text (Brown, 1993); the characteristics of the word and the text containing the word, as well as the nature of the comprehension task (Fraser, 1999; Paribakht & Wesche, 1999); the length of the text (Haynes, 1993); the availability of clear contextual cues (Dubin & Olshtain, 1993); and the semantic richness of the context (Li, 1988).Learner-related or reader-based factors include the learner's previous L2 learning experience (Paribakht & Wesche); the learner's degree of attention to the details in the text (Frantzen, 2003; Nassaji, 2003), and as his or her preconceptions about the possible meaning of the word (Frantzen); the size of the learner's receptive vocabulary knowledge (Laufer, 1997), depth of vocabulary knowledge (Nassaji, 2004; Qian, 1998, 2005), procedural knowledge (Ellis, 1994), sight vocabulary and background knowledge of the passage or familiarity with the topic (Pulido, 2007); the learner's ability to make use of extratextual cues (Haastrup, 1991); the level of mental effort involved in the task (Fraser); and the effect of the learner's native language on the process (Paribakht, 2005).In such cases, learners use certain strategies to compensate for their insufficient L2 lexical knowledge.The primary strategy that learners use when they attempt to identify the meanings of unknown words is lexical inferencing, which "involves making informed guesses as to the meaning of a word in light of all available linguistic cues in combinations with the learner's general knowledge of the world, her awareness of context and her relevant linguistic knowledge" (Haastrup, 1991, p. Paribakht and Wesche (1999) found that their university English-as-a-second language (ESL) students used inferencing in about 78% of all cases where they actively tried to identify the meanings of unknown words.As Wilkins (1972) states, "without grammar very little can be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed" (p. Considering the centrality of vocabulary knowledge and its development, it is necessary for second-language (L2) learners who wish to operate at a high level in English to learn many thousands of word families.Previously it was shown that a learner needed to know over 3,000 word families or about 5,000 individual word forms in order to achieve a 95% coverage of words in academic texts, which was regarded as a threshold for minimum comprehension (Laufer, 1997).Such vocabulary measures require "just a single response to each target word and, by implication, give only a superficial indication of whether the word is known or not" (Read, 2004, p. Depth of vocabulary knowledge, on the other hand, is defined as a learner's level of knowledge of various aspects of a given word, or how well he or she knows this word (Read, 1993).The depth dimension refers to various levels of knowledge (Wesche & Paribakht) and is also associated with various kinds of knowledge such as knowledge of pronunciation, spelling, meaning, register, and frequency, as well as morphological, syntactic, and collocational properties (Qian).
Address correspondence to: Lars Stenius Stæhr, Centre for Internationalisation and Parallel Language Use, Department of English, Germanic, and Romance Studies, University of Copenhagen, Njalsgade 128-30, DK – 2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark; e-mail: [email protected]
Lexical inferencing, therefore, is an important process in both listening and reading comprehension.
In fact, lexical inferencing appears to be closely linked to incidental word-learning through reading, and thus it is also of great importance in the process of vocabulary development (Haastrup, 1989, 1991; Schouten-van Parreren, 1989).
Because of the great importance of lexical inferencing in the process of learning a language, many studies have examined factors that can influence inferencing behavior.
These can be divided into contextual factors and reader-based factors.
Moreover, learners' L2 proficiency has been shown to mediate attempts at lexical inferencing (Bengeleil & Paribakht, 2004; Chern, 1993; Fraser; Haastrup, 1991; Haynes, 1993; Ittzes, 1991; Morrison, 1996).