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ITL - International Journal of Applied Linguistics

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ISSN 0019-0829
E-ISSN 1783-1490

<p><em>ITL - International Journal of Applied Linguistics</em> is a refereed journal devoted to studies in the field of language acquisition in a multilingual society. It is particularly interested in manuscripts reporting on studies that apply a multidisciplinary approach to research on second/foreign language acquisition of any language, mother tongue education, educational linguistics, computer-assisted language learning, classroom-based research, language policy, and language assessment. ITL welcomes manuscripts that critically discuss the pedagogical or policy implications of research results. The journal publishes reports of empirical studies, critical position papers and ground-breaking theoretical articles. Each volume also contains book reviews.</p> <p><em>ITL</em> was previously published by Peeters Publishers. John Benjamins Publishing Company is the official publisher as of Volume 165 (2013/2014).</p>

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  • Assessing vocabulary size through multiple-choice formats: Issues with guessing and sampling rates
    • Authors: Henrik Gyllstad, Laura Vilkaitė, and Norbert Schmitt
    • Source: ITL - International Journal of Applied Linguistics, Volume 166, Issue 2, 2015, pages: 278 –306
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    • In most tests of vocabulary size, knowledge is assessed through multiple-choice formats. Despite advantages such as ease of scoring, multiple-choice tests (MCT) are accompanied with problems. One of the more central issues has to do with guessing and the presence of other construct-irrelevant strategies that can lead to overestimation of scores. A further challenge when designing vocabulary size tests is that of sampling rate. How many words constitute a representative sample of the underlying population of words that the test is intended to measure? This paper addresses these two issues through a case study based on data from a recent and increasingly used MCT of vocabulary size: the Vocabulary Size Test. Using a criterion-related validity approach, our results show that for multiple-choice items sampled from this test, there is a discrepancy between the test scores and the scores obtained from the criterion measure, and that a higher sampling rate would be needed in order to better represent knowledge of the underlying population of words. We offer two main interpretations of these results, and discuss their implications for the construction and use of vocabulary size tests.
  • How much collocation knowledge do L2 learners have?
    • Authors: Beatriz González Fernández, and Norbert Schmitt
    • Source: ITL - International Journal of Applied Linguistics, Volume 166, Issue 1, 2015, pages: 94 –126
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    • Many scholars believe that collocations are difficult to learn and use by L2 learners. However, some research suggests that learners often know more collocations than commonly thought. This study tested 108 Spanish learners of English to measure their productive knowledge of 50 collocations, which varied according to corpus frequency, -score, and score. The participants produced a mean score of 56.6% correct, suggesting that our learners knew a substantial number of collocations. Knowledge of the collocations correlated moderately with corpus frequency (.45), but also with everyday engagement with English outside the classroom, in activities like reading, watching movies/TV, and social networking (composite correlation = .56). Everyday engagement also had a stronger relationship with collocation knowledge than years of English study (.45).

  • A survey of research on text simplification
    • Author: Advaith Siddharthan
    • Source: ITL - International Journal of Applied Linguistics, Volume 165, Issue 2, 2014, pages: 259 –298
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    • Text simplification, defined narrowly, is the process of reducing the linguistic complexity of a text, while still retaining the original information and meaning. More broadly, text simplification encompasses other operations; for example, conceptual simplification to simplify content as well as form, elaborative modification, where redundancy and explicitness are used to emphasise key points, and text summarisation to omit peripheral or inappropriate information. There is substantial evidence that manual text simplification is an effective intervention for many readers, but automatic simplification has only recently become an established research field. There have been several recent papers on the topic, however, which bring to the table a multitude of methodologies, each with their strengths and weaknesses. The goal of this paper is to summarise the large interdisciplinary body of work on text simplification and highlight the most promising research directions to move the field forward.
  • Readability assessment for text simplification: From analysing documents to identifying sentential simplifications
    • Authors: Sowmya Vajjala, and Detmar Meurers
    • Source: ITL - International Journal of Applied Linguistics, Volume 165, Issue 2, 2014, pages: 194 –222
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    • Readability assessment can play a role in the evaluation of a simplification algorithm as well as in the identification of what to simplify. While some previous research used traditional readability formulas to evaluate text simplification, there is little research into the utility of readability assessment for identifying and analyzing sentence level targets for text simplification. We explore this aspect in our paper by first constructing a readability model that is generalizable across corpora and across genres and later adapting this model to make sentence-level readability judgments.First, we report on experiments establishing that the readability model integrating a broad range of linguistic features works well at a document level, performing on par with the best systems on a standard test corpus. Next, the model is confirmed to be transferable to different text genres. Moving from documents to sentences, we investigate the model’s ability to correctly identify the difference in reading level between a sentence and its human simplified version. We conclude that readability models can be useful for identifying simplification targets for human writers and for evaluating machine generated simplifications.
  • How big is the positive effect of assonance on the recall of L2 collocations?
    • Authors: Seth Lindstromberg, and June Eyckmans
    • Source: ITL - International Journal of Applied Linguistics, Volume 165, Issue 1, 2014, pages: 19 –45
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    • High proficiency in L2 partly depends on acquiring many formulaic sequences (FSs), yet post-childhood learners find this difficult. Ways of accelerating the acquisition of FSs would be welcome. Small-scale studies have indicated that assonance (e.g., strong bond) makes studied FSs especially retrievable if, during exposure, assonance is made the object of teacher-instigated awareness-raising and attention direction. However, questions remain about effect size and duration. In two new experiments a mnemonic effect of assonance was detected after 5–10 minutes. This was despite a sorting task thought likely to direct participants’ attention particularly to the control collocations. The effect appeared to fade over an hour and disappear after a day. A small-scale meta-analysis indicates the effect is initially of medium size. We discuss how short-term operation of such an effect could facilitate the fuller acquisition of partly learned assonant FSs. We propose avenues for research into means whereby the mnemonic effect of assonance might be exploited in learning materials. We touch on effects of item frequency, mutual information, and concreteness-imageability of meaning.
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