Using a word knowledge framework to research vocabulary
The study of vocabulary acquisition is not exactly a new area, but previous research and hypothesizing has failed to produce a coherent overall theory which adequately describes it. This is partly because of the complexity of the subject. One method of reducing the complexity is to work with the individual components of vocabulary knowledge, in an attempt to understand the whole by first better understanding the parts. The word knowledge listing proposed by Nation (1990) is adopted in this thesis as a framework from which to study vocabulary. Chapter 1 introduces the word knowledge framework. Chapter 2 provides a literature review which summarizes the research concerning each of the eight types of word knowledge. Chapter 3 reports on a study which attempts to quantify native and non-native intuitions of word frequency. Chapter 4 describes how a procedure for weighting word association responses was developed. Chapter 5 does the same for a measure of collocational knowledge. Chapter 6 applies the word knowledge research paradigm to the evaluation of the vocabulary items on the TOEFL test. Chapter 7 reports on a longitudinal study of four non-native subjects which tracked their incremental acquisition of spelling, association, collocation, grammar, and meaning knowledge for eleven words over one year. Chapter 8 examines the data from the longitudinal study to see if the various kinds of word knowledge are learned in a developmental sequence. Chapter 9 concludes the thesis by giving the author's opinions about the strengths and weaknesses of the reported course of research.