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Developing an English vocabulary curriculum for Hong Kong schools Arthur McNeill Hong Kong Baptist University

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  • Developing an English vocabulary curriculum for Hong Kong schools Arthur McNeill Hong Kong Baptist University
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  • Outline of the presentation 1.How the project came about 2.Aims of the project 3.Design principles 4.Procedures for compiling the wordlists 5.Some problems and issues
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  • PART 1 How the project came about
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  • Evidence of low attainment in vocabulary size tests
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  • Native/Non-native differences in vocabulary acquisition Native English speaking students acquire about 3000 words per year at secondary school (ending up with about 20,000 word families in adulthood). Hong Kong secondary pupils acquire about 300 words per year.
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  • Vocabulary and the CGs Lexical relations: Synonyms (e.g. happy, glad) Antonyms (e.g. bright, dark) Homonyms (e.g. catch a bus, catch a cold) Collocation (e.g. make a wish, watch TV) Lexical sets (e.g. furniture table, chair, desk, cupboard) *please refer to CG (CDC, 2004): pp. 168-171
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  • Vocabulary building skills recommended in CG Word formation Affixation (e.g. unhappy, careless) Compounding (e.g. foot+ball=football) Conversion (e.g. cook a meal, a cook) Derivation (e.g. excite, exciting, excited, excitement)
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  • Quality, YES. Quantity, NO. Curriculum guidelines stop short of identifying lexical targets. Main concerns about inadequate vocabulary come from the tertiary sector.
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  • PART 2 Aims of the project
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  • The Vocabulary Curriculum Project EMB/CUHK collaborative project to develop an English vocabulary curriculum for 12 years of compulsory education. To set vocabulary targets for each KS. To identify the English words to be known by students by the end of each KS
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  • Proposed Vocabulary Targets Key StageStage TargetCumulative Target KS1 KS2 KS3 KS4
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  • Proposed Vocabulary Targets Key StageStage TargetCumulative Target KS11000 KS210002000 KS315003500 KS415005000
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  • Outcomes (Phase 1) Four wordlists, each available in different formats: 1.Alphabetically arranged 2.Thematically-arranged 3.e-list (software which allows greater manipulation of the content)
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  • Research Questions 1.How many English words should HK students know at different stages of their education? 2.Which words should they know?
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  • PART 3 Design Principles
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  • Knowing a word? Working definition Ability to recognize a word (in written or spoken text) and to know its meaning Type of knowledge Details FormWritten (orthographic); spoken (phonological); most frequent morphological variations MeaningOnly one meaning introduced at a time; additional meanings added as new items
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  • Sources of input? Teachers familiar with the respective KS Frequency data about how vocabulary is used in English: General English Academic English Topics and themes listed in CGs Vocabulary content of the approved textbooks
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  • Frequency-based lists/corpora GSL BNC AWL General words Academic words
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  • GSL BNC AWL Classic list of the most frequent 2000 words. Very widely used and respected. 100 million word collection of written and spoke English. A new standard. 570 words which occur frequently in academic texts across disciplines
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  • Textbook Corpus (currently stored as separate files) KS1Textbook ATextbook BTextbook C KS2Textbook ATextbook B Textbook C KS3Textbook ATextbook BTextbook C KS4Textbook ATextbook BTextbook C
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  • Principles guiding final selections Relevance to learners (now and later) Usefulness Combinability (collocations) Word class distribution Superordinates
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  • PART 4 Procedures for compiling the wordlists
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  • Design of the vocabulary selection procedure Frequency data from GSL/BNC/AWL Word samples by frequency Teachers select words for own KS Initial (incomplete) wordlist Rejected items to be considered for next KS Project team add remaining items Textbook corpus Topics from CGs Completed wordlist
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  • Teacher Input
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  • Data gathering (from teachers) 70 schools at each KS Option of on-line task or submit hard copy for KS1 and KS2 Secondary teachers invited to CU to attend a seminar and workshop
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  • Teacher Seminar, plus
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  • Vocabulary decision-making task
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  • Data analysis 1.Collation of the results of the teacher surveys. 2.Calculating a score for each word based on the number of times it was selected by teachers 3.Deciding on a cut-off point for each word score to determine whether it is representative of the teacher sample or not.
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  • PART 5 Issues and Problems
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  • 1. Basing a school curriculum on frequency data Relating a corpus of naturally occurring L1 language to an L2 curriculum is less straightforward than it first appears. Refer to handout for examples of BNC items which do not transfer readily to an English language curriculum for HK students.
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  • What is the BNC? The British National Corpus (BNC) is a 100 million word collection of samples of written and spoken language from a wide range of sources, designed to represent a wide cross-section of British English from the latter part of the 20th century, both spoken and written.
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  • Would a corpus of international English be more appropriate? In applied linguistics, there is strong support for basing achievement standards on successful L2 users rather than on native speakers. But, there is no corpus of international English. Should we encourage one?
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  • 2. Degree of consensus among HK teachers about target language Analysis of the data revealed variation among teachers concerning the vocabulary items which should be included. Should we look in more depth at the patterns of selection?
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  • 3. Should Hong Kong words be added? Examples: shroff dim sum dai pai dong - gweilo
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  • Vocabulary Curriculum Project Phase 2 Phase 2 Pedagogy (materials development and teacher development )
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  • Seed Project The Magic of Words: Enhancing Effectiveness of Vocabulary Learning and Teaching at Primary Level Aims of the project: To explore ways and pedagogies to improve the quality of vocabulary L/T To promote the development of vocabulary building skills To encourage the application of vocabulary in speaking and writing To enhance pupils and teachers competence and confidence in handling vocabulary
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  • Seed Project Target group: Two classes of P.4 pupils Some ideas for making use of the wordlists in lesson planning: Building on pupils previous knowledge (i.e. words they have learnt) Selecting words to be taught in a particular module / unit (by making reference to the relevant categories in the wordlists)
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