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Title: Investigating the receptive vocabulary size of university-level Chinese learners of English : how suitable is the vocabulary levels test?
Authors: Li, L 
MacGregor, LJ
Keywords: Vocabulary
Lexical development
English as a second language
Issue Date: 2010
Source: Language and education, 2010, v. 24, no. 3, p. 239-249 How to cite?
Journal: Language and education 
Abstract: The Vocabulary Levels Test (VLT) is widely used to assess the vocabulary size of second-language learners of English. The test assesses learners' knowledge of words of different frequencies within general English and of high-frequency words within academic texts. We used the VLT to measure the English vocabulary size of Chinese university students of English in Hong Kong where a large vocabulary is required for academic and professional success. Students achieved high scores for high-frequency words but scored poorly for low-frequency words. We consider the possibility that the low scores reflect a deficit of the test: words were selected on the basis of frequency counts from dated word lists of American words and at the lower frequency levels may not be representative of current Hong Kong English. We compiled a corpus of 14.7 million words of Hong Kong English. Cross-checking revealed a number of VLT words that do not occur in the corpus. We argue that these words are not required by English speakers in Hong Kong and that the lowest word frequency levels of the VLT should be revised to reflect modern Hong Kong English.
ISSN: 0950-0782
DOI: 10.1080/09500781003642478
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