Leerplanontwikkeling voor de moderne vreemde talen: 12 november te Nijmegen
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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Problems with vocabulary selection.Comparative research into the criteria which are used in selecting a vocabulary for foreign language teaching has showed that the criterion of frequency yields the best selection.The criticisms of Frequency-lists (such as: F-lists yield too few words; F-lists don't contain nouns; F-lists contain words which don't seem to be very useful) appear to be based upon an incomplete understanding of the structure of a F-list, which is, in fact, considered as an unclassified alphabetical list. This holds also for the pilot research projects on vocabulary selection initiated by the CMLVT.In order to determine the most "useful" words, the F-list has to fulfill certain conditions:1) The corpus on which the F-list is based, must be representative of the kind of language one wants to teach.Most lists in use in teaching, among which the 'Français Fondamental, do not fulfill this condition.2) The frequencies must be sufficiently reliable.The lower the frequency, the more accidental the composition of the list will be, and consequently, the more accidental the order of words with that frequency. Most lists, including the Français Fondamental do not fulfill this condition.3) The F-list must contain enough words.This condition is all but neglected in the literature. The selection made from a F-list for teaching purposes is rather arbitrary. The FF selects a little more than 800 words from a F-list of about 8000, whereas Juilland selects 5000 words from a list of approximately 15.000. If the list contains too few words which fulfill the conditions 1 and 2, the result will be a lack of useful words.The criticisms of the criterion of frequency are unjustified. The criti-cism should concern the irresponsible dealing with the criterion of frequency, which yields unsatisfactory results.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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