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ERIC Number: EJ948614
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jun
Pages: 24
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 64
ISSN: ISSN-0039-8322
Effect of Frequency and Idiomaticity on Second Language Reading Comprehension
Martinez, Ron; Murphy, Victoria A.
TESOL Quarterly: A Journal for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages and of Standard English as a Second Dialect, v45 n2 p267-290 Jun 2011
A number of studies claim that knowledge of 5,000-8,000 of the most frequent words should provide at least 95% coverage of most unsimplified texts in English, arguably enough to guess or ignore most unknown words while reading (Hirsh & Nation, 1992; Hu & Nation, 2000; Laufer, 1991; Nation, 2006). However, perhaps hidden in that 95% figure are other kinds of words--multiword expressions--not accounted for by current estimates based on frequency lists. Such expressions are often composed of highly frequent words, and therefore it is possible that such items may go unnoticed by learners reading in the second language. To test this assertion, a two-part test was taken by 101 adult Brazilian learners of English: One part contained short texts composed of the top 2,000 words in English; the second part contained the exact same words, however the arrangement of these same words constituted multiword expressions (e.g., large, and, by R by and large). Tests of reading comprehension indicated that learners' comprehension not only decreased significantly when multiword expressions were present in text but students also tended to overestimate how much they understood as a function of expressions that either went unnoticed or were misunderstood. (Contains 3 figures, 9 tables and 12 footnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Brazil