Saturday, March 15, 2014

2014 BC TEAL Interior Regional Conference at Selkirk College

The BC TEAL website has just posted some information about the upcoming BC TEAL Interior Conference that is going to be held at Selkirk College in Nelson, BC on October 4, 2014.  I'm going to be the keynote speaker, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Here is the title and abstract for my talk:

Interior Design: Leveraging Content to Support Academic English Language Acquisition

Core academic content can be a powerful motivator for language acquisition.  By grounding grammar, vocabulary, learning strategies, functions, and other language skills in meaningful content, the conditions are set for purposeful learning.  The key is employing instructional strategies that provide the comprehensible input necessary for academic English language acquisition to take place.  However, in mixed classrooms of students with varying levels of English language proficiency, the instructional strategies scaffolding comprehensible input for English language learners have to be utilized without detracting from the learning experiences of their more advanced peers.
First focusing on English for Academic Purposes (EAP) classrooms, this presentation will review the principles behind Content-Based Instruction and the language through content approach.  From this discussion, specific instructional strategies will be suggested for building core academic knowledge while also fostering the development of academic English language proficiency.  Next, the potential of adopting EAP instructional practices across academic disciplines will be explored to understand how core discipline instructors can provide comprehensible instruction without jeopardizing essential academic outcomes.  The potential for instructional cross-fertilization is proposed with meaningful academic content being adopted in English as an Additional Language programs and instructional strategies for language development flowing towards the content disciplines.

Key an eye on this webpage for more details:

Sunday, February 09, 2014

TESL Ontario Keynote Presentation

Oxford University Press has just posted my TESL Ontario Keynote Presentation from October 2013.  Here is the title and abstract for my talk:

Pathways to Production: Exploring Lexical Thresholds in Speaking and Writing

Taking vocabulary as an underlying variable to general English language proficiency, this talk focuses attention on understanding the lexical thresholds that learners of English as an Additional Language (EAL) cross on the pathway to increasing levels of precision and fluency in the productive skills of speaking and writing. An understanding of these lexical thresholds can provide the basis for lexically informed targets, assessments, and educational experiences in an overall EAL curriculum. The talk will conclude with an exploration of the implications of this approach to vocabulary teaching and learning for educators and learners in various English language learning contexts.

. . . and here is the video:

Friday, February 07, 2014

After the First 2,000: A Response to Horst’s “Mainstreaming Second Language Vocabulary Acquisition”

The Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics has just published my response article to Marlise Horst's invited article "Mainstreaming Second Language Vocabulary Acquisition".  I really enjoyed having the opportunity to read and respond to Horst's thoughtful argument for frequency based vocabulary teaching and learning.  Here's the abstract of my paper along with a link (click on the title):

Scott Roy Douglas
This paper is a response to Horst’s (2013) proposal that language teaching should incorporate opportunities for English language learners to acquire the 2,000 most frequent word families in English. She does this by setting out the vital role vocabulary plays in English language proficiency, outlining how knowing high frequency vocabulary unlocks English language proficiency, and establishing why vocabulary learning opportunities need to be part of classroom instruction. Horst’s argument creates a convincing lexical goal for English language learners because it is these first 2,000 word families that will create the foundation for the future vocabulary growth necessary to engage independently in increasingly complex language tasks.  However, knowledge of the most frequent 2,000 word families in English is only the first threshold to eventually becoming a proficient user of English. Once the first 2,000 word families are part of an English language learner’s vocabulary, there remain further lexical thresholds to cross on the way to increasing levels of English language proficiency. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

So Proud of the English Foundation Program

Here is another little video about the English Foundation Program at the University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus:

Saturday, November 09, 2013

I have a new article in the Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics

I just has a peek at the Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics, and my latest article has been published! The web address for this journal is:

Here is the abstract for my article:

The Lexical Breadth of Undergraduate Novice Level Writing Competency

Scott Roy Douglas


This study builds on previous work exploring reading and listening lexical thresholds (Nation, 2006; Laufer & Ravenhorst-Kalovski, 2010; Schmitt, Jiang, & Grabe, 2011) in order to investigate productive vocabulary targets that mark successful entry-level undergraduate writing. Papers that passed the Effective Writing Test (EWT) were chosen to create a corpus of novice university level writing (N = 120). Vocabulary profiles were generated, with results indicating the General Service List (GSL) and the Academic Word List (AWL) cover an average of 94% of a typical paper.  Further analysis pointed to 3,000 word families and 5,000 word families covering 95% and 98% respectively of each paper.  Low frequency lexical choices from beyond the 8,000 word family boundary accounted for only 0.6% coverage.  These results support the frequency principle of vocabulary learning (Coxhead, 2006), and provide lexical targets for English for Academic Purposes (EAP) curriculum development and materials design.
Cette étude s'appuie sur des travaux antérieurs qui explorent les niveaux lexicaux pour la lecture et l’écoute (Laufer et Ravenhorst-Kalovski, 2010; Nation, 2006; Schmitt, Jiang et Grabe, 2011). Elle a pour but d'étudier les niveaux de production lexicale qui marquent l'écriture à l'entrée à l'université anglophone. Pour créer un corpus d'écriture de niveau universitaire novice, 120 articles qui ont passé le Effective Writing Test (EWT) ont été choisis. Des profils  de vocabulaire ont été générés et les résultats signalent que la General Service List (GSL) et la Academic Word List (AWL) couvrent une moyenne de 94% d'un document typique. En plus, 3 000 familles de mots et 5 000 familles de mots couvrent 95% et 98% respectivement de chaque article. Les choix de basses fréquences lexicales au-delà de la limite de 8 000 mots ne représentaient que 0,6% de la couverture. Ces résultats appuient le principe fréquence de l'apprentissage du vocabulaire (Coxhead, 2006) et fournissent des niveaux lexicaux pour les programmes d’anglais à des fins académiques.


Vocabulary; Composition; Undergraduate Studies; English for Academic Purposes; English (Second Language)
You can go directly to the article here:

Monday, October 28, 2013

TESL Ontario Plenary Speaker

I've just come back from the TESL Ontario conference, and my head is swimming with new and exciting ideas.  Here is one that I introduced at the conference:

I'm working on a paper right now to explain this additional language acquisition formula, but I wanted to put it on my blog to peak people's curiosity.  This formula is tweaked for vocabulary acquisition, but it is the same as my one for additional language acquisition.  Here is the breakdown:

f = focus on form
s = strategies
i+1 = comprehensible input
2 = interaction
m = motivation
i = identity
t = teacher effects
VA = vocabulary acquisition

If you would like to cite this for a paper, please use:

Douglas, S. (October 2013). Pathways to Production: Exploring Lexical Thresholds in Speaking and Writing. Teachers of English as a Second Language Association of Ontario Annual Conference, Toronto, Ontario. Keynote Address.

Academic Inquiry: Writing for Post-secondary Success

I'm happy to say that my new book has just been published by Oxford University Press Canada:

Thanks to all of the hard working folks at OUP Canada who made this happen!

Friday, February 15, 2013

The English Foundation Program at UBC's Okanagan Campus

Here is a new video about the English Foundation Program at UBC's Okanagan campus.  I've very proud of how well the students have been doing in the first year of this program.  They are a real credit to the university!