About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 2365-2369
Publication year: 2013
ISBN: 978-84-616-2661-8
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain

ASSESSMENT AND LEARNING: WHAT CAN STUDENTS LEARN FROM TAKING VOCABULARY TESTS?

A. McNeill

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HONG KONG)
Vocabulary tests appear to be enjoying enormous popularity across a whole range of stakeholders in education including, perhaps surprisingly, language learners. Since many vocabulary tests are available in simple, easy-to-use formats, accessible free-of-charge on-line and provide immediate feedback to test-takers, their appeal to teachers and students is understandable. The fact that most vocabulary tests can be administered and marked quickly may also help to explain their attraction to busy teachers. For many years, researchers in applied linguistics have attached importance to the development and application of vocabulary tests for investigating the size and growth of learners’ vocabulary (e.g. Laufer & Nation 1995, Laufer 1998, Meara & Fitzpatrick 2000). In fact, some of the tests and test formats have become recognized as ‘industry standard’ assessment instruments. However, it is conceivable that vocabulary tests that were developed initially for use in research have become popular among teachers for the wrong reasons. In fact, a number of scholars have expressed concern about the dominance of context-independent approaches to vocabulary assessment (e.g. Pearson, Hiebert & Kamil 2007). Tests have also been accused of assessing only knowledge of word forms and promoting the assumption that that competence in a second language involves a distinct vocabulary construct (Singleton 1990).

This paper examines three of the most widely used vocabulary tests and considers the extent to which they contribute to assessment and learning. The tests reviewed are the Vocabulary Levels Test (Nation 1990), X-Lex: Swansea Vocabulary Levels Test (Meara & Milton 2003) and the Lexical Frequency Profile (Laufer & Nation 1995). While recognizing that mainstream language curricula tend to favour the integration of vocabulary with skills such as reading, writing, speaking and listening, the above tests, with their emphasis on discrete, context-independent items, may nevertheless contribute to language learning by providing learners with the number of encounters required to commit target words to long-term memory. However, the paper also recognizes that a wider range of assessment types is called for, including embedded and context-dependent tests.
@InProceedings{MCNEILL2013ASS,
author = {McNeill, A.},
title = {ASSESSMENT AND LEARNING: WHAT CAN STUDENTS LEARN FROM TAKING VOCABULARY TESTS?},
series = {7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2013 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-616-2661-8},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {4-5 March, 2013},
year = {2013},
pages = {2365-2369}}
TY - CONF
AU - A. McNeill
TI - ASSESSMENT AND LEARNING: WHAT CAN STUDENTS LEARN FROM TAKING VOCABULARY TESTS?
SN - 978-84-616-2661-8/2340-1079
PY - 2013
Y1 - 4-5 March, 2013
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2013 Proceedings
SP - 2365
EP - 2369
ER -
A. McNeill (2013) ASSESSMENT AND LEARNING: WHAT CAN STUDENTS LEARN FROM TAKING VOCABULARY TESTS?, INTED2013 Proceedings, pp. 2365-2369.
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