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The lexicon and extramural English among 5th graders: What a vocabulary test tells us about young learners’ lexicon and its correlation with out-of-school activities in English

Paper i proceeding
Författare Liss Kerstin Sylvén
Pia Sundqvist
Publicerad i EuroSLA 2011, Stockholm
Publiceringsår 2011
Publicerad vid Institutionen för pedagogik och specialpedagogik
Språk en
Ämnesord Extramural English, young learners, SLA, vocabulary acquisition
Ämneskategorier Lingvistik, Engelska språket, Lärande


This paper is based on a pilot study focusing on young learners (N=244, 4-6th grade, aged 10-12) and their use of English outside of school, i.e. extramural English (Sundqvist 2009). The overall aim of the study is to examine whether there is a relationship between extramural English and achieved learning outcomes in school. Since it is a pilot study, several measuring tools were tried out: (a) a questionnaire to measure extramural English, motivation, and background variables, (b) a language diary to measure involvement in various extramural English activities as well as extramural activities in other languages, and (c) a written vocabulary test to measure the size of English vocabulary. In our paper, we focus on the results of the evaluation of the vocabulary test and on the analysis of learners’ scores on that particular test. The test was taken by 49 learners in 5th grade and included test items from the levels tests (Nation 2001; Laufer and Nation 1999) available at http://www.lextutor.ca/. The test we designed includes three parts: (A) Recognition (1,000 word level; receptive vocabulary), (B) Recognition (2,000 level; receptive vocabulary), and (C) Production (2,000 level; productive vocabulary). The mean was close to 19 points out of 37. A comparison of the mean scores on the separate parts of the test indicates that Part A was the easiest one and Part C the most difficult. Moreover, the boys had a significantly higher mean score (21) than the girls (17; p < .05). In our analysis, we examine in detail which words cause learners problems and which do not. Furthermore, we discuss the gender difference in light of the fact that previous research has shown that boys to a larger extent than girls benefit from their engagement in extramural English in terms of incidental vocabulary acquisition (Sylvén 2004/2010, Sundqvist 2009).

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