Janelle Moser Abstracts

Janelle Moser  

Ph.D. Candidate

Second Language Acquisition & Teaching  GIDP

 

American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) 2018 Conference

Chicago, Illinois

 

According​ ​to​ ​Alfred’s​ ​(1984)​ ​threshold​ ​hypothesis,​ ​reading​ ​cannot​ ​occur​ ​without​ ​a​ ​basic level​ ​of​ ​lexical​ ​knowledge.​ ​Corpus-based​ ​accounts​ ​in​ ​this​ ​vein​ ​from​ ​Nation​ ​(2006)​ ​show 8,000-9,000​ ​frequent​ ​word​ ​families​ ​are​ ​needed​ ​to​ ​read​ ​an​ ​English​ ​language​ ​novel​ ​or​ ​newspaper at​ ​a​ ​98%​ ​coverage​ ​rate.​ ​Applying​ ​the​ ​same​ ​logic​ ​of​ ​vocabulary​ ​size​ ​and​ ​lexical​ ​coverage approaches​ ​(Schmitt,​ ​Cobb,​ ​Horst,​ ​&​ ​Schmitt,​ ​2017)​ ​to​ ​Arabic,​ ​an​ ​8,500​ ​word​ ​minimum​ ​is suggested​ ​for​ ​newspapers​ ​and​ ​a​ ​12,000-14,000​ ​word​ ​knowledge​ ​minimum​ ​is​ ​suggested​ ​to​ ​access literary​ ​texts​ ​at​ ​a​ ​95%​ ​text​ ​coverage​ ​rate​ ​(Van​ ​Mol,​ ​2005).​ ​Still,​ ​the​ ​counting​ ​unit​ ​of​ ​word families​ ​used​ ​in​ ​Nation’s​ ​(2006)​ ​study​ ​may​ ​overestimate​ ​learners’​ ​productive​ ​knowledge​ ​by​ ​up to​ ​50%​ ​(Schmitt​ ​&​ ​Zimmerman,​ ​2002)​ ​and​ ​receptive​ ​knowledge​ ​by​ ​up​ ​to​ ​13%​ ​(McLean,​ ​2017). As​ ​textbooks​ ​structure​ ​up​ ​to​ ​90%​ ​of​ ​the​ ​curriculum​ ​(Tyson​ ​&​ ​Woodward,​ ​1989),​ ​textbook contents​ ​may​ ​better​ ​project​ ​for​ ​learner​ ​lexical​ ​knowledge​ ​than​ ​word​ ​family​ ​based​ ​accounts.​ ​The present​ ​study​ ​inventories​ ​and​ ​evaluates​ ​the​ ​primary​ ​and​ ​secondary​ ​vocabulary​ ​from​ ​the​ ​first​ ​two books​ ​in​ ​the​ ​popular​ ​Al-Kitaab​ ​Arabic​ ​as​ ​a​ ​Foreign​ ​Language​ ​textbook​ ​series​ ​(Brustad,​ ​Al-Batal, &​ ​Al-Tonsi,​ ​2011)​ ​through​ ​a​ ​lexical​ ​coverage​ ​approach​ ​(Schmitt,​ ​Cobb,​ ​Horst,​ ​&​ ​Schmitt, 2017).​ ​Spoken​ ​and​ ​Standard​ ​Arabic​ ​vocabulary​ ​items​ ​were​ ​inventoried​ ​to​ ​provide​ ​a​ ​projection for​ ​the​ ​amount​ ​of​ ​vocabulary​ ​that​ ​could​ ​be​ ​maximally​ ​learned​ ​after​ ​one​ ​to​ ​1.5​ ​years​ ​of​ ​Arabic study.​ ​Large,​ ​representative​ ​corpora​ ​were​ ​selected​ ​to​ ​represent​ ​authentic​ ​texts​ ​learners​ ​would​ ​like to​ ​read:​ ​modern​ ​Arabic​ ​literature,​ ​newspapers,​ ​and​ ​a​ ​register​ ​that​ ​will​ ​represent​ ​student’s​ ​desire to​ ​“interact​ ​with​ ​people​ ​who​ ​speak​ ​[Arabic]”​ ​(Belnap,​ ​2006,​ ​p.​ ​173).​ ​Text​ ​coverage​ ​percentages for​ ​these​ ​corpora​ ​were​ ​then​ ​obtained​ ​for​ ​textbook​ ​vocabulary​ ​using​ ​AntWordProfiler​ ​(Anthony, 2014).​ ​Results​ ​show​ ​which​ ​registers​ ​students​ ​may​ ​be​ ​best​ ​prepared​ ​to​ ​read​ ​after​ ​completing​ ​a given​ ​textbook​ ​series.

 

 Abstract for Lay Audience

The​ ​present​ ​study​ ​examines​ ​the​ ​value​ ​of​ ​Arabic​ ​as​ ​a​ ​Foreign​ ​Language​ ​textbook vocabulary​ ​using​ ​a​ ​lexical​ ​coverage​ ​approach​ ​(Schmitt,​ ​Cobb,​ ​Horst,​ ​&​ ​Schmitt,​ ​2017),​ ​which compares​ ​lists​ ​of​ ​vocabulary​ ​to​ ​samples​ ​of​ ​texts.​ ​This​ ​study​ ​links​ ​the​ ​important​ ​ideas​ ​of vocabulary​ ​knowledge​ ​and​ ​reading​ ​comprehension​ ​to​ ​the​ ​type​ ​of​ ​language​ ​students​ ​are​ ​exposed to​ ​through​ ​a​ ​popular​ ​foreign​ ​language​ ​textbook. 

Research​ ​has​ ​shown​ ​that​ ​reading​ ​cannot​ ​occur​ ​without​ ​a​ ​basic​ ​level​ ​of​ ​vocabulary knowledge.​ ​In​ ​English,​ ​8,000-9,000​ ​words​ ​are​ ​needed​ ​to​ ​read​ ​an​ ​English​ ​language​ ​novel​ ​or newspaper​ ​at​ ​a​ ​98%​ ​coverage​ ​rate​ ​(Nation,​ ​2006).​ ​Being​ ​able​ ​to​ ​read​ ​a​ ​text​ ​with​ ​only​ ​2​ ​out​ ​of 100​ ​words​ ​unknown​ ​(98%​ ​coverage)​ ​is​ ​the​ ​optimal​ ​rate​ ​to​ ​ensure​ ​a​ ​learner​ ​fully​ ​comprehends​ ​a text​ ​in​ ​a​ ​foreign​ ​language.​ ​For​ ​English,​ ​students​ ​must​ ​have​ ​a​ ​grasp​ ​of​ ​approximately​ ​8,000-9,000 words​ ​to​ ​read​ ​a​ ​newspaper​ ​or​ ​novel​ ​in​ ​English,​ ​assuming​ ​that​ ​1/50​ ​words​ ​are​ ​unknown. Applying​ ​the​ ​same​ ​logic​ ​to​ ​Arabic,​ ​an​ ​8,500​ ​word​ ​minimum​ ​is​ ​suggested​ ​for​ ​newspapers​ ​and​ ​a 12,000-14,000​ ​word​ ​knowledge​ ​minimum​ ​is​ ​suggested​ ​to​ ​read​ ​literature​ ​at​ ​a​ ​95%​ ​text​ ​coverage rate​ ​(Van​ ​Mol,​ ​2005).​ ​This​ ​is​ ​below​ ​the​ ​ideal​ ​rate​ ​of​ ​1/50​ ​words​ ​unknown​ ​(98%),​ ​which​ ​means more​ ​words​ ​are​ ​needed​ ​to​ ​read​ ​in​ ​Arabic​ ​than​ ​English.​ ​Another​ ​point​ ​of​ ​divergence​ ​between English​ ​and​ ​Arabic​ ​is​ ​the​ ​way​ ​words​ ​are​ ​counted​ ​in​ ​a​ ​text.​ ​Word​ ​families​ ​are​ ​a​ ​base​ ​word​ ​and​ ​its related​ ​forms,​ ​such​ ​as​ ​​walk ​ ,​ ​​walks ​ ,​ ​​walking ​ ,​ ​​walked ​ ,​ ​are​ ​a​ ​popular​ ​way​ ​to​ ​count​ ​English​ ​words​ ​in a​ ​given​ ​text​ ​(Nation​ ​&​ ​Bauer,​ ​1993).​ ​​Walker​ as​ ​an​ ​instrument​ ​used​ ​for​ ​walking​ ​would​ ​not​ ​be considered​ ​part​ ​of​ ​the​ ​same​ ​family,​ ​while​ ​​walker ​ ​ ​as​ ​a​ ​noun​ ​describing​ ​a​ ​person​ ​would​ ​be.​ ​Studies on​ ​English​ ​show​ ​the​ ​word​ ​family​ ​overestimates​ ​the​ ​number​ ​of​ ​words​ ​a​ ​foreign​ ​language​ ​learner can​ ​produce​ ​by​ ​up​ ​to​ ​50%​ ​(Schmitt​ ​&​ ​Zimmerman,​ ​2002)​ ​and​ ​the​ ​amount​ ​of​ ​words​ ​students​ ​can understand​ ​in​ ​listening​ ​and​ ​reading​ ​by​ ​up​ ​to​ ​13%​ ​(McLean,​ ​2017).​ ​As​ ​textbooks​ ​structure​ ​up​ ​to 90%​ ​of​ ​in​ ​class​ ​curriculum​ ​(Tyson​ ​&​ ​Woodward,​ ​1989),​ ​textbook​ ​contents​ ​may​ ​provide​ ​a​ ​better projection​ ​of​ ​learner’s​ ​knowledge​ ​of​ ​a​ ​foreign​ ​language​ ​than​ ​word​ ​families.​ ​The​ ​present​ ​study compares​ ​vocabulary​ ​lists​ ​from​ ​the​ ​first​ ​two​ ​books​ ​in​ ​the​ ​popular​ ​​Al-Kitaab ​ ​ ​Arabic​ ​as​ ​a​ ​Foreign Language​ ​textbook​ ​series​ ​(Brustad,​ ​Al-Batal,​ ​&​ ​Al-Tonsi,​ ​2014)​ ​to​ ​large​ ​collections​ ​of​ ​texts,​ ​or corpora.​ ​Large,​ ​representative​ ​samples​ ​of​ ​text​ ​were​ ​selected​ ​to​ ​represent​ ​authentic​ ​texts​ ​learners would​ ​like​ ​to​ ​read​ ​according​ ​to​ ​a​ ​nationwide​ ​survey​ ​(Belnap,​ ​2006):​ ​modern​ ​Arabic​ ​literature, newspapers,​ ​and​ ​texts​ ​that​ ​represent​ ​student’s​ ​desire​ ​to​ ​“interact​ ​with​ ​people​ ​who​ ​speak [Arabic]”​ ​(​ ​p.​ ​173).​ ​The​ ​percentage​ ​of​ ​text​ ​covered​ ​by​ ​textbook​ ​vocabulary​ ​lists​ ​was​ ​determined using​ ​AntWordProfiler​ ​(Anthony,​ ​2014),​ ​a​ ​freely​ ​available​ ​software​ ​package​ ​that​ ​can​ ​compare lists​ ​to​ ​texts.​ ​Results​ ​show​ ​which​ ​types​ ​of​ ​texts​ ​students​ ​may​ ​be​ ​best​ ​prepared​ ​to​ ​read​ ​after completing​ ​a​ ​given​ ​textbook​ ​series,​ ​and​ ​how​ ​far​ ​they​ ​may​ ​get​ ​to​ ​the​ ​ideal​ ​coverage​ ​rate​ ​of​ ​98%.

This​ ​study​ ​is​ ​an​ ​important​ ​contribution​ ​to​ ​the​ ​field,​ ​as​ ​it​ ​simulates​ ​an​ ​Arabic​ ​learner’s vocabulary​ ​knowledge​ ​for​ ​reading​ ​after​ ​completing​ ​a​ ​given​ ​textbook​ ​series.​ ​Results​ ​show​ ​how much​ ​text​ ​from​ ​large,​ ​representative​ ​samples​ ​of​ ​text​ ​could​ ​be​ ​covered​ ​by​ ​textbook​ ​vocabulary, which​ ​is​ ​the​ ​sum​ ​of​ ​vocabulary​ ​a​ ​student​ ​would​ ​learn​ ​after​ ​one​ ​to​ ​1.5​ ​years​ ​of​ ​Arabic​ ​study​ ​at​ ​the college​ ​level. 

Last updated 5 Jun 2019