Advertisement

Academic Vocabulary Proficiency and Reading Comprehension Among Icelandic Secondary School Students

  • Guðmundur EdgarssonEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Educational Linguistics book series (EDUL, volume 34)

Abstract

This chapter presents the findings of a comprehensive study on English academic vocabulary proficiency and its role in reading comprehension among secondary school students in Iceland, ranging in age from 18 to 20 (Secondary school in Iceland is 3 years from age 16–19. At the time of this study, secondary education was 4 years from age 16–20). The data is based on two surveys, a test on academic vocabulary proficiency administered in six upper-secondary schools across the country (N = 249), and a reading comprehension test of academic texts administered in three secondary schools (N = 168). The reading comprehension test also included the same receptive vocabulary task as the one used in the previous study, substantially extending the sample size for this task (N = 249 + 168 = 417). The results show that, on average, academic reading proficiency among Icelandic students nearing completion of their secondary education barely meets the minimum requirements for University admission as measured by the IELTS standards. Moreover, knowledge of academic vocabulary, particularly productive knowledge, was found to be inadequate for university level reading. A strong positive correlation was found between receptive academic vocabulary knowledge and academic reading comprehension.

Keywords

Reading Comprehension International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Icelandic Students Vocabulary Knowledge Academic Texts 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Alderson, J. C. (2000). Assessing reading. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arnbjörnsdóttir, B., & Ingvarsdóttir, H. (2015). Simultaneous parallel code use: Using English in University studies in Iceland. In A. H. Fabricius & B. Preisler (Eds.), Transcultural interaction and linguistic diversity in higher education: The student experience (pp. 142–163). London: Palgrave MacMillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Berman, R. (2010). Icelandic university students’ English reading skills. Málfríður, 26(1), 15–18.Google Scholar
  4. Birch, B. M. (2002). English L2 reading: Getting to the bottom. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.Google Scholar
  5. British Council N.D. Reading practice test 1 – IELTS Academic. http://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/prepare-test/practice-tests/reading-practice-test-1-academic Accessed 16 Mar 2016.
  6. Cobb, T. (n.d.) From concord to lexicon: Development and test of a corpus-based lexical tutor. Montreal: Concordia University, Unpublished PhD dissertation. Accessed 2 Oct 2016.Google Scholar
  7. Coxhead, A. (2000). A new academic word list. TESOL Quarterly, 34, 213–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cummins, J. (2000). Language, power and pedagogy. Clevedon: MultilingualMatters.Google Scholar
  9. Diane, P., Shaw, P., Irvine, A., & Malmström, H. (2011). English textbooks in parallel language tertiary education. TESOL Quarterly, 45, 313–333.Google Scholar
  10. Erigna, D. (1974). Einseigner, c’est choisir: Vocabulaire-verwerving. Levende Talen, 306, 260–267.Google Scholar
  11. Eyckmans, J., Van de Velde, H., van Hout, R., & Boers, F. (2007). Learners’ response behavior in yes/no vocabulary tests. In H. Daller, J. Milton, & J. Treffers-Daller (Eds.), Modelling and assessing vocabulary knowledge (pp. 59–76). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Feast, V. (2002). The impact of IELTS scores on performance at university. International Education Journal, 3(4), 70–85.Google Scholar
  13. Gardner, D., & Davies, M. (2013). A new academic vocabulary list. Applied Linguistics, 1–24. doi:https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amt015. Accessed 11 Nov 2016.
  14. Golkar, M., & Yamini, M. (2007). Vocabulary proficiency and reading comprehension. The Reading Matrix, 7(3), 88–112.Google Scholar
  15. Goulden, R., Nation, P., & Read, J. (1990). How large can a receptive vocabulary be? Applied Linguistics, 11, 341–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grabe, W. (1988). Reassessing the word interactive. In P. L. Carrell, J. Devine, & D. E. Esky (Eds.), Interactive approaches to second language reading (pp. 56–70). Cambridge: Cambridge University press.Google Scholar
  17. Hellekjær, G. O. (2008). A case for improved reading instruction for academic EnglishReading proficiency. Acta Didactica Norge, 2(1), 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hellekjær, G. O. (2009). Academic English reading proficiency at the University level: A Norwegian case study. Reading in a Foreign Language, 21(2), 198–222.Google Scholar
  19. Henriksen, B. (1999). Three dimensions of vocabulary development. Studies in SecondLanguage Acquisition, 21(2), 303–317.Google Scholar
  20. Huntley, H. (2006). Essential academic vocabulary. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  21. Hyland, K., & Tse, P. (2007). Is there an ‘academic vocabulary’? TESOL Quarterly, 41(2), 235–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jeeves, A. (2008). “Some words are simply very difficult”: Reading proficiency in English.MA thesis. School of Social Sciences, University of Iceland.Google Scholar
  23. Laufer, B. (1992). How much lexis is necessary for reading comprehension? In P. Arnaud & H. Bejoint (Eds.), Vocabulary and applied linguistics (pp. 126–132). Basingstoke: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Laufer, B. (1996). The lexical threshold of second language reading comprehension: What it is and how it relates to L1 reading ability. In K. Sajavaara & C. Fairweather (Eds.), Approaches to second language acquisition (pp. 55–62). Jyväskylä: University of Jyväskylä.Google Scholar
  25. Laufer, B., & Goldstein, Z. (2004). Testing vocabulary knowledge: Size, strength, and computer adaptiveness. Language Learning, 54(3), 399–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Laufer, B., & Nation, P. (1999). A vocabulary-size test of controlled productive ability. Language Testing, 16(1), 33–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Laufer, B., & Paribakht, T. S. (1998). The relationship between passive and active vocabularies: Effects of language learning context. Language Learning, 48(3), 365–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lee, Y.-J., & Greene, J. (2007). The predictive validity of an ESL placement test: A mixed methods approach. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 1, 366–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Liu, N., & Nation, P. (1985). Factors affecting guessing vocabulary in context. RELC Journal, 16, 33–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Meara, P., & Buxton, B. (1987). An alternative to multiple choice vocabulary tests. Language Testing, 4(2), 142–151.Google Scholar
  31. Nation, I. S. P. (2001). Learning vocabulary in another language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nation, P. (2006). How large a vocabulary is needed for reading and listening? The Canadian Modern Language Review, 63(1), 59–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Olmos, C. (2009). An assessment of the vocabulary knowledge of students in the final year of secondary education. Is Their vocabulary extensive enough? IJES, Special Issue, 73–90.Google Scholar
  34. Pétursdóttir, M. (2013). Explicit Teaching of Academic Vocabulary in EFL: Preparing Icelandic students for education at university level. Unpublished MA thesis. University of Iceland.Google Scholar
  35. Pulido, D., & Hambrick, D. Z. (2008). The virtuous circle: Modeling individual differences in L2 reading and vocabulary development. Reading in a Foreign Language, 20(2), 164–190.Google Scholar
  36. Qian, D. D. (1998). Depth of vocabulary knowledge: Assessing its role in adults’ reading comprehension in English as a second language. Toronto: University of Toronto.Google Scholar
  37. Read, J. (1988). Measuring the vocabulary knowledge of second language learners. RELC Journal, 19, 12–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Read, J. (2000). Assessing vocabulary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Schmitt, N. (2010). Researching vocabulary. A vocabulary research manual. Basingstoke: Palgrave & Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schmitt, N., Schmitt, D., & Clapham, C. (2001). Developing and exploring the behavior of two new versions of the vocabulary levels test. Language Testing, 18(1), 55–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Stoddard, G. D. (1929). An experiment in verbal learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 20, 452–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Torfadóttir, A. (2003). Könnun á orðaforða í ensku. Uppeldi og menntun, 12(1), 57–78.Google Scholar
  43. Tschirner, E. (2004). Breadth of vocabulary and advanced English study: An empirical investigation. Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 1(1), 27–39. http://e-flt.nus.edu.sg/v1n12004/tschirner.htm. Accessed 14 July 2006.
  44. West, M. (1953). A general service list of English words. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  45. Zechmeister, E. B., Chronis, A. M., Cull, W. L., D’Anna, C. A., & Healy, N. A. (1995). Growth of a functionally important lexicon. Journal of Reading Behavior, 27, 201–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Zhou, S. (2010). Comparing receptive and productive academic vocabulary knowledge of Chinese EFL learners. Asian Social Science, 6(10), 14.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ReykjavíkReykjavíkIceland

Personalised recommendations