3,000 words in Spanish L2 basic language courses: A reachable goal?

Date
2023-10-01
Authors
Marcos Miguel, Nausica
Edge, Joshua
Beaton, Mary E.
Sánchez-Gutiérrez, Claudia H.
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University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center
(co-sponsored by American Association of University of Supervisors and Coordinators; Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition; Center for Educational Resources in Culture, Language, and Literacy; Second Language Teaching and Resource Center)
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4
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1
Starting Page
17
Ending Page
47
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Abstract
While studies on lexical development in English L2 abound, less is known about how learners develop their lexicons in other L2s and how their developmental paths relate to lexical frequency counts. To fill this gap, this longitudinal study tracks the receptive lexical knowledge of students who progress through three semesters of Spanish L2 in a US university. Using an online receptive vocabulary test taken at the end of each semester, this study explores what percentage of the 3,000 most frequent Spanish words (overall and by frequency band) these learners recognized. Factors influencing outcomes such as whether the students had Spanish courses before the university, or whether they spoke Spanish outside of class were also examined. Results are consistent with English L2 research. Moreover, as L2 learners’ proficiency increased, less additional vocabulary was learned. Previous experiences and use of Spanish outside of class positively influenced scores. On average, learners could recognize around 65% of the most frequent 3,000 words by the end of the third semester. These findings have practical implications for designing the vocabulary component of language courses during and after the first three semesters.
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vocabulary, Spanish L2, vocabulary size, classroom instruction, vocabulary frequencies
Citation
Marcos Miguel, N., Edge, J. R., Beaton, M. E., & Sánchez-Gutiérrez, C. H. (2023). 3,000 words in Spanish L2 basic language courses: A reachable goal? Second Language Research & Practice, 4(1), 17–47. https://hdl.handle.net/10125/69877
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