The role of vocabulary breadth and depth in IELTS academic reading tests

Chen, Chen
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University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center
Center for Language & Technology
This study explored the role of vocabulary breadth and depth in second language learners’ performance in IELTS academic reading tests in China. Sixty-two Chinese learners of English as a foreign language completed a vocabulary size test, a vocabulary depth test, and an IELTS reading test. Results showed that vocabulary breadth and depth both correlated significantly with IELTS reading test scores. With regard to different IELTS question types, vocabulary breadth correlated significantly with True/False/Not Given questions, whereas vocabulary depth correlated more significantly with Multiple Choice, Matching Headings, and Sentence Completion tasks. Results of a multiple regression model indicated the increase of vocabulary size needed to improve certain IELTS band scores. This study has theoretical implications for broadening the conceptualisation of vocabulary depth, as well as pedagogical implications for supporting students’ second language reading development.
vocabulary breadth, vocabulary depth, reading comprehension, IELTS examination
Chen, C., & Liu, Y. (2020). The role of vocabulary breadth and depth in IELTS academic reading tests. Reading in a Foreign Language, 32(1), 1-27.
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