Wordlists in Language Teaching and Learning Research
Words comprise a great part of learners’ knowledge of a second language (L2). In fact, vocabulary expansion is one of the very important ways for learners to gain proficiency in the L2. To this end, they try many different vocabulary learning strategies and seek help from many different sources. The strategies may range from mere oral repetition of the words and their native language equivalents to keeping some personalized vocabulary notebooks. The sources may also range from the entries of dictionary to the words found in the advice column of a monthly magazine. However, by taking a brief look at the literature we easily see the abundance of research on vocabulary learning strategies and its paucity on sources of learning vocabulary. In other words, we can claim that the researchers have mostly focused on how rather than what to teach and learn as far as vocabulary is concerned. Though comparatively small in its quantity, the research on the gradation of words is by no means a newborn topic. SLA researchers in this area have tried to use the existing corpora to squeeze out highly efficient and at the same time manageable wordlists which can capture the most frequent vocabularies encountered by learners in different genres. The purpose of this paper is to present a review of different wordlists that have been proposed in the field of applied linguistics. Wherever possible, the applications of these wordlists for the teaching and learning of an L2 are highlighted.
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