Volume 22, No. 1 Special Issue: In Honor of Paul Nation

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    From the Guest Editor
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2010-04) Coxhead, Averil
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    From the Editors
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2010-04) RFL Staff
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    Second Language Reading Research and Instruction: Crossing the Boundaries by ZhaoHong Han and Neil J. Anderson (Eds.)
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2010-04) Miller, Ryan T.
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    Words as species: An alternative approach to estimating productive vocabulary size
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2010-04) Meara, Paul ; Alcoy, Juan Carlos Olmos
    This paper addresses the issue of how we might be able to assess productive vocabulary size in second language learners. It discusses some previous attempts to develop measures of this sort, and argues that a fresh approach is needed in order to overcome some persistent problems that dog research in this area. The paper argues that there might be some similarities between assessing productive vocabularies—where many of the words known by learners do not actually appear in the material we can extract them from—and counting animals in the natural environment. If this is so, then there might be a case for adapting the capture-recapture methods developed by ecologists to measure animal populations. The paper reports a preliminary attempt to develop this analogy.
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    Using glossaries to increase the lexical coverage of television programs
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2010-04) Webb, Stuart
    This study examined the extent to which glossaries may affect the percentage of known words (coverage) in television programs. The transcripts of 51 episodes of 2 television programs (House and Grey’s Anatomy) were analyzed using Range (Heatley, Nation, & Coxhead, 2002) to create glossaries consisting of the low-frequency (less frequent than the 3,000 word level) word families that were encountered 10 or more times in each program. The results showed that coverage of the glossaries was 1.31% for Grey’s Anatomy and 2.26% for House. This was greater than coverage of the 3,001–4,000 most frequent word families in both programs. The cumulative coverage including the glossaries at the 3,000 word level increased to 96.00% for House and 97.20% for Grey’s Anatomy. The findings indicate that glossaries have the potential to improve comprehension of television programs.
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    Learning about language and learners from computer programs
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2010-04) Cobb, Tom
    Making Nation’s text analysis software accessible via the World Wide Web has opened up an exploration of how his learning principles can best be realized in practice. This paper discusses 3 representative episodes in the ongoing exploration. The first concerns an examination of the assumptions behind modeling what texts look like to learners with different levels of lexical knowledge; the second concerns approaches to handling proper nouns in text profiling within an international context; and the third involves the future of the Academic Word List as new frequency information appears to undermine its utility. Underlying these explorations is an argument that writing computer programs is a useful way to investigate language and language learning.
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    How well does teacher talk support incidental vocabulary acquisition?
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2010-04) Horst, Marlise
    Opportunities for incidental vocabulary acquisition were explored in a 121,000-word corpus of teacher talk addressed to advanced adult learners of English as a second language (ESL) in a communicatively-oriented conversation class. In contrast to previous studies that relied on short excerpts, the corpus contained all of the teacher speech the learners were exposed to during a 9-week session. Lexical frequency profiling indicated that with knowledge of 4,000 frequent words, learners would be able to understand 98% of the tokens in the input. The speech contained hundreds of words likely to have been unfamiliar to the learners, but far fewer were recycled the numbers of times research shows are needed for lasting retention. The study concludes that attending to teacher speech is an inefficient method for acquiring knowledge of the many frequent words learners need to know, especially since many words used frequently in writing are unlikely to be encountered at all.
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    Is explicit vocabulary focus the reading teacher’s job?
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2010-04) Folse, Keith
    This paper reports findings from a case study of the amount of explicit vocabulary focus (EVF) that occurred in a week of classes for one group of upper intermediate students in an intensive English program (IEP). To assess EVF, instruction from a total of 25 hours of classes was analyzed to see if the number of EVF events was more connected with the course (i.e., grammar, reading, composition, communication skills, or TOEFL), the instructor, or both. Data reveal that the reading course, long assumed to be the source of most vocabulary focus, may or may not be the main source in an IEP curriculum. Data from this study demonstrate that a better predictor of EVF in any given class or course may be the instructor, and that the number of EVFs in a week of intensive instruction is surprisingly low.
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    The quality and frequency of encounters with vocabulary in an English for Academic Purposes programme
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2010-04) Joe, Angela
    This longitudinal case study tracks an adult second-language (L2) learner’s quality and quantity of encounters with 20 vocabulary items in an English for Academic Purposes course over 3 months. The learner completed pretest and posttest vocabulary knowledge interviews, submitted course materials and notes for analysis, and was observed during class lessons. The results show that frequency of encounters contributes more to vocabulary learning than contextual richness does. In addition, the case study data illustrate the highly incremental nature of L2 vocabulary acquisition in a naturalistic context.
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    Speed reading courses and their effect on reading authentic texts: A preliminary investigation
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2010-04) Macalister, John
    Fluent reading is essential for successful comprehension. One dimension of reading fluency is reading rate, or reading speed. Because of the importance of reading fluency, fluency development activities should be incorporated into classroom practice. One activity that meets the fluency development conditions proposed by Nation (2007) is speed reading. An important question is whether reading speed gains measured in words per minute on controlled speed reading texts transfer to other types of texts. This paper reports on a preliminary, small-scale investigation of this question. The findings suggest that a speed reading course may contribute to faster reading speeds on other types of texts, but there remains a need for further experimental research into the impact of speed reading courses.