LTRG-SLLAT talk by Henrik Gyllstad (Lund University): The significance of vocabulary size and the validation of a vocabulary size test

Date: 19 March 2014 Time: 3.30-5.00 pm

Venue: Bowland North SR6

The Language Testing Research Group and the Second Language Learning and Teaching Research Group are pleased to announce the following talk:

The significance of vocabulary size and the validation of a vocabulary size test

by Henrik Gyllstad (Lund University, Sweden)

Typically, vocabulary knowledge is modelled as having three dimensions: size/breadth, organization/depth and accessability/fluency (see e.g. Meara, 2005; Daller et al., 2007; Gyllstad, 2013). In my presentation, I will focus on the first of these three: vocabulary size/breadth, and briefly account for research that shows the significance of this dimension in relation to the four skills in a second language (L2). I will then go on to report on an empirical study aiming to validate a fairly recent test of English vocabulary size: The Vocabulary Size Test (VST) (Nation & Beglar, 2007). The VST, a 140-item measure of a learner's vocabulary size from the 1st 1000 to the 14th 1000 word families of English, is becoming a widely-used instrument for measuring vocabulary size, more specifically the written receptive vocabulary knowledge required for reading. However, there have been few relevant validation studies to date (though see Beglar, 2010). In the present study, a criterion-related validity approach was adopted which directly relates test-takers' answers on the VST to their knowledge of the vocabulary within the relevant frequency bands. A total of 141 participants took part in the study. Issues addressed were sampling rate, the match between VST scores and criterion measure scores, the influence of cognates, and test-taking strategies. The results showed that the sample rate is insufficient, that there is a tendency for VST scores to overestimate word knowledge, and that cognates do not benefit all types of test-takers. The implications of these results for the validity of the test will be discussed.

When? Wednesday 19th March, 3.30-5.00pm

Where? Bowland North SR6

All welcome!

Event website:


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Language Testing Research Group (LTRG), Linguistics and English Language, Second Language Learning and Teaching Research Group (SLLAT)



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