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Word Type Grouping in Swedish Secondary School Textbooks - An Inventory of Words from a Second Language Perspective

Sourcetitle: 
Multilingualism, Proceedings of the 23rd Scandinavian Conference of Linguistics
Year of publication: 
2009
PublicationType: 
Conference paper - peer reviewed

When investigating questions like “What characterizes the vocabulary of school book texts in general and in different subjects at different levels?” and “Which words present particular problems for students studying in their second language?” school book corpora offer important empirical data. We have therefore compiled and analyzed a corpus of secondary school textbooks of one million words (OrdiL) with texts from eight different school subjects contributed by three different publishers (Lindberg & Johansson Kokkinakis 2007). In order to perform comparative studies and analyses on the vocabulary of these texts we have performed computer-based disambiguation and semantic analyses at a lemma- and lexeme-level. Moreover, we have carried out word frequency analyses, including comparative analyses of relative frequency and dispersion between different subjects. To be able to distinguish characteristic features of school book vocabulary we use an equally sized reference corpus of easy-to-read texts as a point of comparison. The vocabulary of this corpus is representative of the kind of written language that children at this age can be exposed to out of school.

To identify and categorize various types of words in textbooks, we propose a model based on earlier research by Coxhead & Nation (2001) and Hyland & Tse (2007) modified to account for the word types of potential difficulty for second language secondary school students. Based on analyses of frequency and range we propose two main groups of words divided into at least two subgroups.
To explore the question “Which words present particular problems for students studying in their second language?” we also need empirical data on students’ actual vocabulary difficulties. For this purpose we are constructing a number of computerized tests focusing various types of lexical knowledge in relation to the different word types. These tests will be administered to students with different background characteristics to make comparisons of quantitative as well as qualitative aspects of vocabulary knowledge between different groups of students possible.

http://spraakbanken.gu.se/personal/sofie/SCL23/

Sourcepages: 
337-339
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