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Harry Potter and the Prisoners of Vocabulary Instruction: Acquiring Academic Language at Hogwarts

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Title:Harry Potter and the Prisoners of Vocabulary Instruction: Acquiring Academic Language at Hogwarts
Authors:McQuillan, Jeff
Keywords:vocabulary acquisition, academic language, pleasure reading, efficiency, explicit instruction
Date Issued:15 Oct 2020
Publisher:University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center
Center for Language & Technology
Citation:McQuillan, J. (2020). Harry Potter and the Prisoners of Vocabulary Instruction: Acquiring Academic Language at Hogwarts. Reading in a Foreign Language, 32(2), 122-142. http://hdl.handle.net/10125/67377
Abstract:Several researchers have claimed that low-achieving students, especially second language students, need explicit academic vocabulary instruction to “catch up” with their age peers (e.g., Nagy & Townsend, 2012). Two possible paths to vocabulary growth – free reading and explicit vocabulary instruction – were compared in terms of their efficiency (Mason, 2007) in words acquired per minute by analyzing data from a large corpus (1.1 million words) of young-adult novels taken from the Harry Potter series (Rowling, 2016), and from seven large-scale academic vocabulary intervention studies. The Harry Potter novels contain 85% of all the words on the Academic Word List (AWL), which is thought to include the most important word families needed for success in school. Reading all seven Harry Potter novels is predicted to result in the acquisition of between one-fifth and one-half of these AWL words. This vocabulary gain is 1.6 to four times more efficient than what has been achieved so far through explicit instruction.
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/10125/67377
ISSN:1539-0578
Volume:32
Issue/Number:2
Appears in Collections: Volume 32, No. 2


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