Frequency Profiles of EFL Learners’ Lexical Availability

  • Rosa María Jiménez Catalán
  • Tess Fitzpatrick


In the present study, we propose a complementary approach to the traditional analysis of lexical availability studies by looking at learners’ word responses from the perspective of word frequency. We apply a word frequency framework to data produced by 6th and 8th English as a Foreign Language Learners in Spanish Primary and Secondary schools in response to nine cue words traditionally used in lexical availability studies. The chapter looks at learner profiles according to the number of words produced in the nine semantic domains, and the proportion of infrequent words to frequent words in each domain. The findings are relevant for lexical availability studies as they open a new line of research in the field. They are also relevant for vocabulary research as they question the assumption of a linear pattern of vocabulary acquisition through frequency bands.


  1. Alderson, C. 2007. Judging the frequency of English words. Applied Linguistics 28(3): 383–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bailey, V. J. 1971. A study of lexical availability among monolingual-bilingual speakers of Spanish and English. Master thesis, Rice University, Houston.Google Scholar
  3. Carcedo, A. 1998. Tradición y novedad en las aportaciones hispánicas a los estudios de disponibilidad léxica. Lingüística 10: 5–68.Google Scholar
  4. Celaya, M.L., M.R. Torras, and C. Pérez-Vidal. 2001. Short and mid-term effects of an earlier start: An analysis of EFL written production. In EUROSLA yearbook, ed. S. Foster Cohen and A. Nizegorodcew, 195–209. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  5. Cenoz, J. 2002. Age differences in foreign language learning. ITL- International Journal of Applied Linguistics 135(136): 125–142.Google Scholar
  6. Coxhead, A. 1998. An academic word list. Occasional Publication Number 18, LALS, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington.Google Scholar
  7. Dimitrijévic, N. 1969. Lexical availability. Heidelberg: Julius Gross Verlag.Google Scholar
  8. Gardner, D. 2004. Vocabulary input through extensive reading: A comparison of words found in children’s narrative and expository reading materials. Applied Linguistics 25(1): 1–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hernández-Muñoz, N., C. Izura, and A.W. Ellis. 2006. Cognitive aspects of lexical availability. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology 18(5): 730–755.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Horst, M. 2010. How well does teacher talk support incidental vocabulary acquisition? Reading in a Foreign Language 22(1): 161–180.Google Scholar
  11. Horst, M., and L. Collins. 2006. From faible to strong: How does their vocabulary grow? The Canadian Modern Language Review 63(1): 83–106.Google Scholar
  12. Jiménez Catalán, R., and S. Moreno. 2005. Promoting English vocabulary research in primary and secondary education: Test review and test selection criteria. English Studies ES 26: 171–188.Google Scholar
  13. Jiménez Catalán, R., and J. Ojeda Alba. 2009. Girls’ and boys’ lexical availability in EFL. ITL International Journal of Applied Linguistics 158: 57–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Laufer, B. 1991. Knowing a word: What is so difficult about it? English Teachers’ Journal 42: 82–88.Google Scholar
  15. Laufer, B. 1992. How much lexis is necessary for reading comprehension? In Vocabulary and applied linguistics, ed. Henri Bejoint and Pierre J.L. Arnaud, 126–132. Basingstoke/London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  16. Laufer, B. 1994. The lexical profile of second language writing: Does it change over time? RELC Journal 25(2): 21–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Laufer, B. 1998. The development of passive and active vocabulary in a second language: Same or different? Applied linguistics 19: 255–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Laufer, B., and P. Nation. 1999. A vocabulary size test of controlled productive ability. Language Testing 16: 36–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Laufer, B., and P. Nation. 1995. Vocabulary size and use: Lexical richness in L2 written productions. Applied Linguistics 16(3): 307–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Laufer, B., and T.S. Paribakht. 1998. The relationship between passive and active vocabularies: Effects of language learning context. Language Learning 48: 365–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lynch, T., and J. Maclean. 2000. Exploring the benefits of task repetition and recycling for classroom language learning. Language Teaching Research 4(3): 221–250.Google Scholar
  22. Meara, P. 1993. Tintin and the world service: A look at lexical environments. IATEFL: Annual Conference Report, 32–37.Google Scholar
  23. Meara, P., and T. Fitzpatrick. 2000. Lex30: An improved method of assessing productive vocabulary in an L2. System 28: 9–30.Google Scholar
  24. Meara, P., P. Lightbown, and R. Halter. 1997. Classroom as lexical environments. Language Teaching Research 1(1): 28–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Morris, L., and T. Cobb. 2004. Vocabulary profiles as predictors of the academic performance of Teaching English as a Second Language trainees. System 32: 75–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Muncie, J. 2002. Process writing and vocabulary development: Comparing lexical frequency profiles across drafts. System 30: 225–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Nation, P. 1990. What is involved in learning a word? In Teaching and learning vocabulary, ed. I.S.P. Nation, 29–50. Rowley: Newbury House.Google Scholar
  28. Nation, P. 1997. The language learning benefits of extensive reading. The Language Teacher 21(5): 13–16.Google Scholar
  29. Nation, P. 2001/2007. Learning vocabulary in another language. Cambridge: Cambridge Applied Linguistics.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nation, P., and R. Waring. 1997. Vocabulary size, text coverage and word lists. In Vocabulary: Description, acquisition and pedagogy, eds. N. Schmitt and M. McCarthy, 6–19. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Pimsleur, P. 1967. A memory schedule. The Modern Language Journal 51(2): 73–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Read, J. 1988. Measuring the vocabulary knowledge of second language learners. RELC Journal 19: 12–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Read, J. 2000. Assessing vocabulary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Richards, J. 1974. Word lists: Problems and prospects. RELC Journal 5(2): 84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Richards, J. 1976. The role of vocabulary teaching. TESOL Quarterly 10(1): 77–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Richards, J. 1985. Lexical knowledge and the teaching of vocabulary. In The context of language teaching, ed. J. Richards, 176–188. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Scarborough, D.L., C. Cortese, and H.S. Scarborough. 1997. Frequency and repetition effects in lexical memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Human Perception and Performance 31: 1–17.Google Scholar
  38. Schmidtt, N. 2000. Vocabulary in language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  39. West, M. 1953. A general service list of English words. London: Longman, Green and Co.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rosa María Jiménez Catalán
    • 1
  • Tess Fitzpatrick
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Filologías Modernas. Facultad de Letras y EducaciónUniversidad de La RiojaLogroñoSpain
  2. 2.Cardiff School of English, Communication & PhilosophyCardiff UniversityCardiffUK

Personalised recommendations