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. 

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