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A word frequency distribution study of language presented to young ESL students 1983

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A WORD FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION STUDY OF LANGUAGE PRESENTED TO YOUNG ESL STUDENTS By KIM REBANE B.A. The University of British Columbia, 1980 A THESIS SUBMITTED JN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Faculty of Education Department of. Language Education We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA December 1983 © K i m Rebane, 1983 V . In presenting t h i s thesis i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. I t i s understood that copying or p u b l i c a t i o n of t h i s thesis for f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my written permission. Department of The University of B r i t i s h Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 DE-6 (3/81) i i ABSTRACT The purpose of this study has been to assess how well ESL children are being prepared to communicate in the English language. This was done by comparing the language presented to young ESL learners with the target language (English). Word frequency was the basis of comparison in this study. The frequency distribution of words in the target language was compared with that of the ESL text series YES!. Published word frequency lists were used to determine how well the sample represented the target language. Comparisons were made on the basis of frequency distribution, high and low frequency words, and similarity to basal reading series designed for young native speakers. It was found that young ESL learners are being exposed to language that is representative of what is needed to communicate. Results also showed that this language is unlike that of basal reading series which focus on many more repetitions of individual words. Given the different experiences with which young ESL and native learners bring to the task of learning how to read such a difference in the series is necessary. The results of this study are discussed in terms of the frequency distribu- tion of words, research in the learning of first and second language, and pedagogical implications of the findings. i i i TABLE O F CONTENTS Page No. I CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION 1 Background Information The Purpose Assumptions and Delimitations of Study Justification of Study II CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF LITERATURE 1 3 III CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY 36 Research Design Statement of Hypotheses 36 The Sample 39 The Procedure 41 Description of Variables 42 Summary IV CHAPTERS: PRESENTATION OF DATA 49 Descriptive Analysis Inferential Analysis Summary V CHAPTER 5: INTERPRETATIOLNS AND CONCLUSIONS 85 VI BIBLIOGRAPHY 101 VII APPENDIX 107 l i v LIST OF TABLES Page No. Table I: Summary of all Types and Tokens Found in the YES! 49 Series Table 2: Percentage of Tokens and Types Accounted for by Divi- 51 sions of the First 1000 Words Table 3: The Type/Token Relationship for 3 Published Words Lists 56 and the YES! Series List Table 4: A Rank Order List of the 321 Most Frequent Words in the 59 YES! Series Table 5: Pearson Correlation Coefficients for 3 Published Words 64 Lists and the 321 Most Frequent Words in the YES! Series Table 6: Likelihood of Words in the Published Lists having the 65 Same Ranking as Words in the YES! List Table 7: Summary of Word Distributions for the 6 Books in the 67 Series and for the Series Table 8: Pearson Correlation Coefficients for each of the Books in 70 the Series Table 9: Number of High Frequency Words in Each Book 71 Table 10: Recurrence of Least Frequent Words and their Contri- 72 bution to the Total Word Count Table I I: Distribution of the Least Frequent Words in Each Book of 74 the YES! Series Table 12: A Comparison of Tokens, Types, and Type-Token Ratios 77 for the YES! Series, the Ginn 720 Series, and the MacMillan Series Table 13: Commonality of Words Found on the YES! List with Words "78 Found in the Ginn 720 and MacMillan Lists Table 14: Percentage of Word Types Occurring Only Once in Each 79 Series Table 15: Rank List of the 106 Words Unique to the YES! A & B 80 Books Table 16: The Number of New Words Introduced in Each Book of the 83 YES! Series and the "Typical" Number of Words Intro- duced by a Basal Reading Series V LIST OF FIGURES Page No. Figure I: Percentage of Tokens Accounted for by 35.7% of Types 53 Figure 2: Percentage of Tokens Accounted for by the 500 Most 55 Frequent Words in the YES! Series and 3 Published Words Lists Figure 3: A Graph of the Number of Different Words in Each of the 68 6 Books in the YES! Series 1 CHAPTER I An adequate sight word vocabulary is essential for fluent reading (Dolch, I 960). A sight word is one that is immediately recognized by the reader without the necessity of phonic, structural, or contextual analysis. A sight word vocabulary is made up of al l the words a reader can immediately identify without taking the t ime to analyze. Hi ldreth (1958) said that these instantly recognized words are part of our "word banks". She suggested that one measure of reading matur ity was the size of this word bank. A large word bank allows the reader to read faster and more accurately without having to stop and figure out words by such word ident i f icat ion strategies as phonetic or structural analysis. A large sight vocabulary allows the reader to proceed through the reading material in the manner which has been described by Kenneth Goodman. Goodman (1967) views reading as a "psycholinguistic guessing game" whereby the competent reader act ive ly involves himself in the selective information-seeking process of determining meaning. However, this view of the reader describes only the individual who has a great deal of experience with the language in that he is able to recognize and remember the most productive language cues in order to make predictions and associations. 2 When teaching children how to read we are really asking them to analyze and then synthesize the print on the page. While there has been a great deal of discussion about what that 'unit' is, most experts in the field recognize the importance of the word as the central meaningful unit for learning how to read. One method of teaching reading which is employed at some point in most reading programs is the Whole-Word or "Look and Say" method. This method focuses on teaching children a number of words by sight in an effort to foster early successful reading experiences. The key to this method is that the words chosen for such learning are meaningful. That is, the child already knows what the word means because he uses it in speech. Thus, early reading instruction is not concerned with teaching new words or meanings but, rather, with developing a recognition or sight vocabulary of words whose meanings are already familiar to the child (Causey, 1958). This sight vocabulary is built up through repeated exposure via seeing the word printed, saying and talking about the word, using the word orally, defining the word, and copying the word (Dauzat and Dauzat, 1981). Wayne Otto, Robert Rude, and D.L. Spiegel (1979) have pointed out four important reasons for children to develop a large sight vocabulary. First, if the child has to concentrate on every individual word, he will fail to comprehend the whole passage because his limited memory span will not permit him to make meaningful connections between the various parts. Second, an adequate sight vocabulary places limitations on the reader's use of the important word identi- fication cue of context. Otto, Rude, and Spiegel (1979) suggest that the reader 3 needs to be able to recognize 95 percent of the words in the passage in order for the material to be truly meaningful. A third advantage to having a large sight vocabulary is that the sight words can act as catalysts for teaching phonic skills. Since not all words can be taught as sight words, it is necessary to have some method whereby the reader can figure out the word without help. Finally, for words that are phonically irregular (i.e. they can not be sounded out), the sight word strategy is indispensible. The sight word approach is a useful strategy in that initial success at reading a short story with many word repetitions gives the child a feeling of confidence and enthusiasm to continue. It has already been noted that initial sight vocabulary is developed on the basis of what the child already knows. That is, words that are already within the child's experience are learned first. Many word lists have been developed in an effort to guide teachers and authors of books in deciding which words are most frequent and therefore should become part of the reader's sight vocabulary. Such lists are based on spoken vocabulary (The International Kindergarten Union Study, 1928; Murphy's "Spontaneous Speaking Vocabulary of Children in Primary Grades," 1957), written vocabulary (Rinsland's Basic Vocabulary of Elementary School Children, 1945; Hillerich's "240 Starter Words," 1974), and printed vocabulary - those words found in reading material (Carroll et al. Word Frequency Book, 1971; Johnson's "Basic Vocabulary for Beginning Reading, 1971; Harris and Jacobson's Basic Elementary Reading Vocabularies, 1972). These lists are based on relative frequencies of words used in the medium which is being studied (be it reading material, samples of writing, oral material, or a combina- 4 tion thereof). The basic premise of this method of rating words is that the child will encounter certain words more often and therefore needs to be familiar with them so that the words do not interfere with learning to read fluently. Basal reading series have used such published word lists to develop children's sight vocabulary. These series are carefully structured so as to present words that the child is familiar with before those with which he is unfamiliar. Dolch (I960) outlined the relationship between the child who is beginning to read and the typical reading series that were being used at that time. He said that while the child comes to the first grade with a meaning vocabulary of several thousand words and a sight vocabulary of perhaps fifty words, pre-primers assume that the child has no sight vocabulary at all. The words that the child has seen repeatedly on signs, labels, and TV are not exploited as they should be. Furthermore, Dolch also said that the adding of new words throughout the text series was not really done on the basis of any sound pedagogical strategy. The only criterion for the vocabulary structure seemed to be that the fewer new words there were, the easier the book was to read. Dolch (I960) went on to describe the vocabulary load of such series. Naturally, the number of new words per book increases from level to level within a series. Typically, the pre-primer has 50 new words; the primer, 100 new words; the first year books, 150 new words; the second year books, 400 new words; and the third year books, 600 new words (Dolch, I960). Basal reading series adhere to the learning principle of repeated association in an effort to make this new 5 vocabulary familar. To do this, a new word will be repeated a number of times within the book in which it first appears and again, along with the other new words of that book, in the next book of the series. Dolch said, It makes sure that while adding new words, the old ones won't be lost by disuse. A poor plan is to teach a child ten new words and at the same time let him forget ten words taught previously. This results in no increase in sight- vocabulary. Therefore, as we plan a steady learning of new words, we also plan a continued re-use of old words. These two elements make up what is called vocabulary control, which is absolutely essential for maintaining and increasing sight vocabulary in the most efficient way in school readers. (Dolch, I960, p. 265) Recently, Robert Aukerman (1981) published a book which gives up-to-date information on basal readers in general and reviews several basal reading series that are currently on the market. He describes the basal reading series as having four components: I. the series of 15 or 16 books starting with the pre-primer and going up through sixth grade (although some continue on through junior high school); 6 2. the teacher's edition which explains how to teach the lesson; 3. the pupil workbooks which are designed to reinforce what has been presented in the readers; and 4. the management component which involves testing to determine the child's strengths and weaknesses and whether he is ready to proceed to ' the next level. In summary, Aukerman says, A basal series is planned to present very simple, easy-to- master materials and method in the first-grade materials. The second-grade materials are somewhat more advanced, but build on the skills mastered in the first grade. And not until about the third grade does the pupil begin to top off his/her word-recognition and comprehension skills. The content and materials in the intermediate grades (4, 5, and 6) are usually related to the learning of literary skills and the reading of a wide selection from the pupil's literary anthologies at these grade levels. (Aukerman, 1981, p. 7) At the end of this book, Aukerman lists twenty disadvantages and nine advantages of the new basal reading series. Among the advantages, two are concerned with vocabulary development: "a sequential program of vocabulary 7 development" and "a developmental plan of word-analysis techniques" (Aukerman, 1981. p. 333). A cursory examination of the fifteen basal reading series Aukerman describes reveals the fact that over half of these make direct reference to sight words (or some synonym thereof - such as 'foundation words' or 'basic words/vocabulary') and the other programs, which start with a phonic approach, aim for sight mastery. Aukerman states that several of the series have strict vocabulary control and that many of the series base their vocabulary on high-frequency word lists. Dolch (1955) described how word frequency lists should be used in deve- loping reading programs when he explained the dimensions of a list of the "First Thousand Words in Children's Reading". He pointed out that there were two kinds of words in the list, areas of experience words (i.e. words associated with nature, school, home environment, child's person and clothing) and general words (i.e. words such as 'begin', 'think', 'with1, 'these', 'both', 'seven'). General words are those used in a wide range of situations. However, such words are only of value within specific situations since it is impossible to talk about one of these words without putting something, with it (i.e. 'begin' something, 'with' some- thing, 'seven' something) (Dolch, 1955). Since these words are general and will be met over and over again, they should quickly become part of the reader's sight vocabulary (Dolch, 1955). That is, regardless of which of the areas of experience a story happens to be written in, a selection of general words should be made. Dolch published a list of 220 general words and pointed out two important facts: I) grammatically, these words are pronouns, adjectives, prepositions, and 8 conjunctions - no nouns, and 2) 'physically' these words make up 70 percent of the first grade readers, 66 percent of the second and third grade readers, and over 50 percent of all other reading materials (Dolch, 1955). Knowing a language may be said to involve a sufficient knowledge of its grammar to enable comprehension and creation of novel sentences in the language, and a know- ledge of sufficient vocabulary to permit communication in situations for which the language is required. (Richards, 1974, p. 69) He goes on to point out that what is thought to the second language learner is largely a matter of choice and that the selection necessarily implies that some features of the language will not be taught. With respect to vocabulary selection, the choice involves a subjective, objective, or subjective-objective consideration of the contexts in which instruction and use will occur (Richards, 1974). Richards explains that a subjective approach is based on the instructor's intuition of what vocabulary the learner will need, while an objective approach focuses on word frequency counts which produce word lists of which the most frequent are believed to be the most useful. Subjective-objective approaches use both word frequency and such psychological measures of word utility as 9 availability (i.e. the ease of recall of words based on how they are structured in memory) and familiarity (i.e. a subjective response to words which is based on the word's meaningfulness and concreteness as well as the frequency of experi- ence with the word) (Richards, I 974). The purpose of this study is to examine the written language presented to ESL students and determine if the language is adequately representing the targe language. ESL students must eventually be able to use effectively. More specifically, written material will be studied so that the basis for selection of words can be described. To do this, the words presented to your learners in an ESL text series will be examined (via frequency counts) and compared with that of the target language. The ESL text book series YES! (Melgren and Walker, 1977/78) has been chosen to represent the written language young English learners need. The words in this series are examined in terms of development of vocabulary within the series, similarities between the frequency distribution of words in the series and words in the target language, and differences between the words used in the ESL series and those used in basal reading series designed for native speakers. By doing a word frequency count (determining how many different words there are and how many times each of those words occurs). Comparisons and corellations will be made to describe the development of the ESL series YES! and evaluate the selection of words. 10 The YES! series is designed for children who are learning English. It has been chosen because of its widespread use with young ESL learners. Physically, the series is very similar to basal reading series - there is a series of six books organized according to level of ability, three workbooks which reinforce and expand into the written form what was presented in the books, and a teacher's edition which gives instructions on how to present the material. However, ESL children are in quite a different position when they enter school than native speaker children. ESL children have little experience with the language and so have no oral meaning vocabulary upon which to base reading instruction. Thus, because of this lack of exposure to English, the ESL child must learn many skills at once - listening and speaking meaningfully in the English language as well as reading and writing meaningfully. This means that the books used must take on the added burden of developing a complete language program. The words that are used in such texts cannot be entirely consistent with basal readers which focus on reading because the contexts of language use are much broader. However, such books must be representative of standard English in order to develop ESL children's ability to use the language productively. The authors of the YES! series, Melgren and Walker, have suggested that teaching English to young ESL students requires that the language used be utilitarian. That is, the choices concerning what language to expose the child to involves asking what language the child needs to communicate. Linguistic analysis involving abstract concepts about English is often useful for older ESL 11 learners but young children learning the language cannot deal with language on such a level (Melgren and Walker, I 978). However, Melgren and Walker do not suggest any basis upon which to decide what is "meaningful". For the purpose of their series, Melgren and Walker have created lists of vocabulary words and expressions for each book to represent what should become part of the child's working vocabulary. The only criterion for a word to occur on such a list is that it occurs more than once in a particular book. This qualification ensures that words that must occur once strictly because the context demands it are not overemphasized). However, this also means that while a word may have a high frequency and/or high utility in one book of the series, it may not event occur in any of the other books. Subjectively, we may feel that such words are of high general utility in the child's language development. That is, the children will use such words in other situations. But since these words occur only within one book of the series, they may appear not to have high frequency of general utility when looking at the overall frequency of words for the series. Teachers should know about such words so that they may emphasize them in other language activities. 'Since the series offers no word frequency information, it is difficult to determine which words occur in all the books of the series and which words are specific to a single book. Published word frequency lists may be of little value in such a situation simply because the vast number of words in general use are low frequency words and it is impossible to predict which low frequency words will be used in a particular series. (The high frequency words, on the other hand, are 12 almost pre-determined since they are the structure words that unify the language). Richards (1974) has pointed out that many published word frequency lists omit words that are of high utility (i.e. of useful, practical vlaue in specific contexts). For example, the words 'soap', 'soup', 'dish', 'oven', 'chalk', and 'stomach' do not occur within the first two thousand most frequent words published by Thorndike in 1921 (Richards, 1971). Thus the decision regarding which low frequency words to include in a list may simply be dependent on the language sample taken (i.e. the context) and therefore in no way reflect what is really used or needed to communicate successfully. While we might expect more low frequency/high utility words in the ESL series because of a concern to expose learners to as many useful words as possible, we cannot foresee which of these types of words will be introduced or to what extent they will be used. Freeman Twaddell (1980) has said that at the time the ESL student reaches the intermediate stage of learning the language, he still has an extremely small vocabulary. However, the decision as to which words should be concentrated upon is a difficult one. Rivers (1981) said that the most frequent words that the learner will encounter should naturally be the basis for decision. However, since these area relatively low information words, we need to ask which words that are of low frequency but of high utility need to be included? 13 There are certain difficulties in working with words, word lists, and word frequency which should be noted. Barry Richman, one of the authors of the Word Frequency Book, has cited five characteristics of the lexicon that make it such a nebulous system to work with: 1) it may be regarded as infinite; 2) there is more than one reasonable way to define its elements, and it is not always clear how to distinguish one element from another; 3) the structure of the lexicon is interlaced with the grammar of the language; 4) the lexicon changes with time; and 5) there are important differences in the way the lexicon is used in speech and in writing. Carroll, Davies, and Richman, 1971. p. v) There are also a number of idiosyncratic aspects of word lists that should be pointed out because this study involves comparing the frequency of words in a devined text with the frequency of words in the target language (i.e. the language being learned) as defined by word-frequency counts. While there have been several word lists published, they are not necessarily comparable because they may not consistently sample the same data base in the same way. A summary of the dimensions of selection that will affect the structure of the word-frequency lists is outlined below: 14 1) The definition of the 'word' is of upmost concern to the development of any list. Some lists subsume morphological endings under the root word as bounded by space on the right and left (and, thus, the presence of the plural -s makes the word "book" difference from the word books). 2) The medium of the language source; as Richman, (1971) pointed out, oral and written material are not exactly alike. Furthermore, what we read is not the same as what we write (i.e. our receptive and productive vocabularies differ). 3) If a specific medium is chosen, the particular types of words will reflect certain dimensions of that medium. For example, with respect to reading material, genearl magazines are composed of quite dif- ferent words than classical novels or technical reports (i.e. the content of the reading material will affect the distribution of words). 4) Recognizing that adults have much different vocabularies than children is important when using and developing word lists. In comparing word frequencies it is necessary to note the age range for which the list represents. 5) Finally, because words change over time, it is important to note the publishing date of the word list. There are thousands of common words in our vocabulary today that were not even in existence when some of the early lists came out (i.e. 'television',' 'computer', 'jet'). 15 Characteristics of word-frequency lists aside, all lists aim to reflect which words are most frequent within the medium studied. Their stated usefulness ranges from language development (i.e. in the teaching of phonics, spelling, and English to non-native speakers) to research concerns and textbook design (Earle, 1977). However, the value of word frequency lists is only as valuable as the underlying assumptions which prompted its development. The general assump- tion is that the frequency of a word does make a difference. More specifically, in the domain of readability, the more frequently a word occurs, the easier it is to understand meaningfully and, consequently, the easier it is to read the material. The more words there are that are 'easy' to read in a passage, the easier the passage is to read. From this basic premise it is easy to see why there might be a great deal of enthusiasm for word-frequency counts. Here we have a quantifiable way of determining what makes a passage easy or difficult to read. Unfortunately, there are other dimensions of readability which are not quantifiable but which are just as important to the reading difficulty of the passage. Dolch (1955) has pointed out that while words are the basic building blocks of the meaning, other dimensions of the language also affect the readability of any material. The reader's span of attention and memory play important roles in the ability to understand the words and the development of meaning. Thus, sentence length, word and phrase order, and experience with the context of the material being read also play important roles in determining the difficulty of a passage (Dolch, 16 1955). Furthermore, the fact that most words have more than one meaning also affets how difficult a word will be. A word may have one meaning that is very common and a second meaning that is quite rare. Word frequency lists do not take this characteristic of words into account; generally, the meaning aspect of words is ignored when word frequency is studied. Finally, and perhaps the most important criticism of word frequency lists and related studies is that there is a difference between a meaning vocabulary and a recognition vocabulary (Dolch, 1955). Recognizing a word does not necessarily mean understanding that word. The situation can be likened to recognizing someone's face but having no idea where you have met or seen him before. Recognition without rrteaningfulness is of little value. Meaning vocabulary is basic to understanding. An extremely weak meaning vocabulary is characteristic of someone learning English. Therefore, a major concern of an ESL teacher is to determine which words will constitute the meaning-vocabulary and at what point they will be taught. Word frequency lists provide a references to words the ESL student will hear, speak, and read most often. These words are the ones students should be taught early. Having a good grasp of the high frequency words gives the learner a context which can be used to attend to the task of recognizing and understanding the vast number of words that are not known to him. In other words, a word frequency list can help the teacher determine which words need to be taught early so as to ease the memory load in the face of the vast number of unknown words. 17 The remainder of this paper will deal with the central issue of word frequency. Chapther 2 reviews the frequency structure of words in the English language and looks at studies relating word frequency to recognition and meaning. Chapter 3 describes the data source and procedures for data collection and analysis. Chapter 4 is a presentation of the results and Chapter 5 discusses the findings specifically in terms of the YES! series and generally in terms of the usefulness of word frequency lists to the ESL teacher. 18 CHAPTER 2 The purpose of this chapter is to examine the distribution of words in the English language and to review related studies that indicate the relationship between word frequency and recognition. Studies concerned with the speed of recognition of individual words and experiments dealing with the relationship between high frequency words and readability are cited in an effort to show why there has been such a great interest in word frequency as one of the indicators of readability. A brief review of the "how and why" of some of the major published word list studies concludes this chapter. Freeman Twaddell (1972, 1980) describes the frequency structure of the vocabulary as the quantitative aspect of vocabulary which creates difficulties for ESL students learning to read. Twaddell (1980) explains that the frequency- distribution is not what most people would expect. We would expect that graphic representation of the frequency distribution of words in the language would approximate a bell-shaped curve with very few very high-frequency and very low-frequency words and many medium-frequency words. However, quantitative analysis does not support this prediction. The actual distribution can be diagramatically likened to a ski-jump (Twaddell, 1980). There are very few high- frequency words, a small number of medium-frequency words, and, contrary to expectations, a seemingly infinite number of very low-frequency words. Thus, based on Twaddell's description, the distribution of the vocabulary may be summarized as follows: 19 1. The highest frequency words are actually very few in number and part of all language used (i.e. articles, conjunctions, prepositions, pro- nouns). 2. The medium-frequency words are determined by the context in which the language is being used. These words organize the discourse. 3. The very low-frequency words are those which unite the area of interest to the particular situation in which language is being used. Related to this description is the observation of how quickly the curve tapers off from the few high frequency words to the words which appear only once. In a table of most frequent words based on a corpus of 1,104,235 words put together by Kucera and Francis (1967), Twaddell (1980) shows that the ten most frequent words account for almost one-quarter of the corpus. Furthermore, the table reveals a vast difference between the occurrence of the most frequent word 'the' and the one hundreth most frequent word, 'down'. While 'the' occurs approximately once every fifteen words, 'down' occurs only once every 1133 words. Twaddell points out that this extremely early tapering off of high frequency words means that it is impossible to predict which words a student will encouter in reading. That word frequency is a good predicator of word difficulty and order of acquisition has been a point of much debate. Wardaugh (1971) questions the importance of the frequency of a stimuli on the basis of evidence drawn from language acquisition studies. For example, he cites studies that show: 2 0 1. The telegraphic speech of children omits the most frequent words in the environment. 2. Japanese children acquire a less frequent grammatical form before a more frequently occurring form (McNeil, 1966, 1968). However, Ingram cites a number of studies in which the relative frequency of a structure is important to the acquisition and use of language by the child: 1. The early learning of the questions "What's that?" and "What doing?" is the result of the high number of 'what' questions presented to the child by older people. 2. Frequency corresponds to simplicity of structure of sentence forms (i.e. the simplest being declarative, active, affirmative). Studies have shown that the least complex sentence forms are learned by young children earlier than the more complex forms. 3. The more concrete references, which are of very high frequency in the speech presented to children, are the ones that children acquire first (Ingram, in press). Lefevre (1962) does not see the single word as a major language unit because of its relative semantic and syntactic instability, its meaninglessness in isolation, and its insignificance when considered as part of the larger units of language (i.e. the sentence or the paragraph). However, a great deal of research 21 shows results suggesting that the word is important - especially when considered as part of the larger unit. Before looking at these studies, it must be recognized that word frequency is used as a predicator of word familiarity. That is, the most familiar words are those words which occur most frequently in the language. Dolch (I960) refers to these very familiar words as 'sight-words' which are instantly recognized and do not cause hesitation. Expert reading implies a large sight vocabulary (Dolch, I960). Many word count lists have been developed to indicate which words are the most familiar (i.e. Thorndike's Teacher's Word Book (1921); Dolch's Basic Sight Vocabulary (1936); Rinsland's A Basic Vocabulary of Elementary School Children (1945); Dale's List of 3,000 Familiar Word (I 948); Carroll, Davies, and Richman's Word Frequency Book (1971); Harris and Jacobson's Basic Elementary Reading Vocabulary (I 972). Studies dealing with word frequency can be divided into those concerned with the individual word and those concerned with the word within larger units of language such as sentences and paragraphs (i.e. those dealing with words within a context). To understand the theoretical basis for the value of word familiarity (as measured by word frequency), attention will first be given to those studies which deal with our ability to identify individual words. These studies typically deal with the concept of familiarity by measuring the response time for tachistoscopically presented material. The pioneers in this area were L. Postman, R. Solomon, D. Howes, and C.E. Noble (1950, 1951, 1953, 1954). 22 A series of studies has shown that high-frequency words are recognized quicker than low-frequency words. Howes and Solomon (1951) correlated the speed of recognition (the length of time the word was in the subject's visual field) of a word with frequency of occurrence of that word (based on three published word frequency lists) by flashing words on a screen for identification by subjects. They found that almost 51 per cent of the toal variance was accounted for by the log word frequency being correlated with the duration threshold. In other words, they found a very clear inverse relationship between word frequency and duration threshold: the more frequent the word, the shorter the duration of stimulus necessary for identification. Postman and Solomon (1950) showed experimentally that the recency of the stimulus (i.e. how recently the stimulus was last seen by the subject) was associated with the duration of presentation. Solomon and Postman (1952) point out the intimate relationship between recency and word frequency: the more often a word occurs , the more likely it is to have occurred recently. In their 1952 study, Solomon and Postman showed that even the learning of nonsense words was a function of recency and familiarity. By using nonsense words the could control the frequency (or familiarity) variable. After having sujbects read and pronounce a series of nonsense words which ranged in frequency from one to twenty-five, the recognition thresholds (the speed of recognition) for each word was determined by tachistoscopic presentation. Once again, it was shown that the speed of recognition was positively correlated with familiarity. 23 Noble (1954) noted the results of the Solomon and Postman (1952) data and proposed to evaluate the functional relationship between familiarity and fre- quency of stimulation. He found an index of relationship between frequency and familiarity of .998. This extremely high correlation, along with the Solomon- Postman results, strongly suggests that "familiarity is a learnable attribute of the stimuli" (Noble, 1954, p. 14). More recently, Mason (1976) has looked at how orthographic, phonological, and word frequency variables affect the speed of word recognition. She used letter sequences of the form CVCC to determine how vowell regularity, initial consonant frequency, final consonant frequency, and word familiarity affected word-nonword decisions made by children and adults. Her major finding was that word familiarity was the primary factor in such decisions. The model developing out of this perspective is that of LaBerge and Samuels' (1974). They suggest that common words are processed differently from uncommon words. Very common, or familiar, words are automaticaly coded into a visual word code which excites meaning. Uncommon, or unfamiliar, words, on the other hand, are coded into orthographic spelling and phonological patterns before the reader can obtain meaning. The result of this is that it takes longer to process unfamiliar words. She cites LaBerge and Samuels (1974) when she says that her results support the belief that the major influence on automaticity of recognition is word frequency of usage: the influence of orthographic and phonological variables seems only to be through their inter- actions with word familiarity. She explains: 24 Shorter decision time for common words can be under- stood in terms of the set of words that must be searched, because, by definition, the number of stored words con- taining high frequency letters exceeds the number of words containing low frequency letters. The effect is reversed for uncommon words since these often begin with low frequency initial consonants. (Mason, 1976, p. 205) Finn (1978) reanalyzed data collected by Bormuth in 1966 to explain the positive relationship between word frequency and the likelihood of its being supplied in a cloze passage. He concluded that extremely common words are supplied very readily because they are expected by the reader and, therefore, carry very little information. The reader does not spend the same amount of time or effort on each word. Depending upon prior choices made in the reading of the passage and language/reading experience, words that occur more fre- quently will be given less time and attention (Goodman, 1967). Marks, Doctorow, and Wittrock (1974) examined the relationship between word frequency and reading comprehension. Using subjects between the ages of 10 and 12, they found that reading comprehension could be significantly increased by substituting 15 per cent of the low-frequency words with higher frequency words. Their findings suggested that gains in reading comprehension could be obtained by manipulation of these words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs) on the basis of their relative frequencies. 25 A more recent study by Graves, Boettcher, Peacock, and Ryder (1980) looks at the relationship between words and reading comprehension from a different perspective. They investigated how well students' reading vocabularies could be predicted by word frequency lists. After testing 432 seventh to twelvth grade students by administering two 43-item multiple choice vocabulary tests, they found that there was a positive relationship between the frequency of a word (as determined by Carroll, Davies, and Richman's 1971 word frequency list) and the students' response to that word: correct responses declined as the word became less frequent. Their results also suggested that other factors such as meaningfulness, pronounciability, letter frequency, and sequential probability of letters also played an important role in determining whether a student knew a particular word. Thus, they concluded that word frequency is really a rather crude measure of familiarity. However, the ability to pronounce a word can be argued to be of little consequence since the most frequent words follow few phonics rules (Otto, Rude, Spiegel, 1979). Furthermore, because of the way the 'word' was defined, several words which appeared to be less frequent were really merely derivations of more common words. Thus, there is a great deal of empirical research showing that word frequency is an important factor in word recognition. The significant impli- cation here is that word frequency affects the readability of materials. George Klare (1968) examined the role of word frequency in readability by reviewing a number of studies in the areas of word and sentence difficulty, reading 26 efficiency, word familiarity and recognition, and reading preference. He points out that word frequency studies were first undertaken in response to the fact that the common words were more comprehensible than the less common words. This means that passages which contain higher frequency words are typically evaluated by the reader to be 'easier' to read. In an effort to determine exactly which words were the most frequent, several studies have resulted in lists which define the frequency of words for a particular corpus of data, The remainder of this chapter will cite the reasons some of these lists have been compiled. Howes and Solomon (1951) describe how word-frequency counts are made: Word-frequency counts are made by selecting a sample of language behaviour (usually written) that contains a given number of words, and then tabulating the number of times that each particular word occurs. (Howes and Solomon, 1951, p. 401) The results of multiple sampling and tabulation are written up as lists which reflect the number of times a particular word occurs in the language. Richman (Carroll, Davies, and Richman, 1971) has pointed out that the more diverse the contexts and the broader the source of the corpus (i.e. the greater the range), the more reflective the resultant word list is of the distribution of words exposed to and used by the general population. 27 There have been many purposes cited for developing word frequency lists. Edward Thorndike, the author of several word lists, suggested three ways that his I 921 word list could be of service to teachers: 1) it helps the teacher decide what teaching strategies to use by telling him/her the relative frequencies of words; 2) it helps the novice teacher identify the important words and the words that are likely to cause difficulty, and; 3) it can act as a guide on how to teach certain words if notations are made by the teacher. (Thorndike, 1921) In his expanded version, The Teacher's Word Book of 30,000 Words (in collaboration with Irving Lorge), Thorndike adds that the list also allows teachers to know the importance of each word with respect to popular reading for adults and approved reading for children (Thorndike and Lorge, 1944). Gates (1935) felt that his list, which consisted of data from speech and texts, had pedagogical value in facilitating reading if the words of all subjects were limited to one vocabulary. He also felt that these words would probably be the most widely used across the curriculum and were therefore worthy of inclusion on spelling lists. Furthermore, Gates suggested that the words of the list could be used in developing tests in the areas of reading and writing. He explained, 2 8 Tests of ability to recognize and pronounce the words singly, and especially to read with understanding various types of passages based entirely on words from different levels of the list, would indicate the range of the basal vocabulary and the degree of independent reading ability a pupil has achieved, and consequently, the extent to which he may be entrusted, without danger of practicing errors, with reading miscellaneous children's materials in the school or home. (Gates, 1935. p. 3-4) (Of course, a major assumption made here is that a child will not understand what he reads if he has not mastered the listed words. This is somewhat questionable since there are many other cues to consider then reading a particular selection). Rinsland (1945) compiled A Basic Vocabulary of Elementary School Children because he felt there was a need to examine the words children in grades one to eight in use their own writing. He suggested the major use of such a list was in the area of writing books for children in these grades. Strothers, Jackson, and Minkler (1947) constructed A Canadian Word List: Grades I - VI as a first step in studying language development in Canada. They, too, saw the list as a basis for constructing reading materials. -29 More recently, Carroll, Davies, and Richman (1971) published the Word Frequency Book which used the resultant word list in the construction of The American Heritage School Dictionary for use by students in grades three through nine. Harris and Jacobson (1972) give practical and theoretical reasons for developing Basic Elementary Reading Vocabularies. The study was undertaken to reveal the words being used in the elementary textbooks at each grade level in 1970. They reasoned that most other lists were far too outdated to be of much pedagogical use. Practically, the advent of computer technology has allowed far quicker and more thorough studies of this nature to take place. Harris and Jacobson also cited a number of additional purposes and uses for word lists. Among them area: 1) Studies comparing the content of this word list with other word lists, 2) determination of words which have risen or fallen in use over a period of time, 3) comparisions of the vocabulary content of specific books or series, 4) comparison of grade placement in the list with the measured difficulty of specific words, 5) studies involving cross-cultural comparisons 6) development of new variables for use in measuring readability. (Harris and Jacobson, 1972. p. 3) 30 There are also many 'short' lists that have been drawn from the longer lists in an effort to produce basic, or core, vocabularies. The authors of these lists determine which words are common to several lists and then compile a summary list based on their findings. Such lists are formed with the intention of outlining the absolutely necessary words that a student must know in order to read. For example, Dolch (1936) published a list of 220 words which he said made up a least fifty per cent of the running words in elementary school reading materials (Harris and Jacobson, 1972). This list contains no nouns and so in 1950 Dolch compiled a list of 95 common nouns as well as a list of "The First Thousand Words for Children's Reading" (1948). For a summary of general and core vocabularies published between 1930 and 1961, Harris and Jacobson (1972) offer a good overview and bibliography. Furthermore, Harris and Jacobson themselves have published a core list. They looked at fourteen series of textbooks written for students in grades one to six. Their core list is made up of words which appear in three or more of the basal readers. In 1979, Charles Walker published a word list of the one thousand words of highest frequency in the 1971 Carroll, Davies, and Richman study. This chapter has cited evidence to show the importance of considering word frequency as an important variable in the recognition of words and the readability of materials. In knowing which words are most frequent, we know which words should become part of the sight vocabulary of the reader. There 31 have been no studies dealing exclusively with ESL texts. The lack of research in second language reading and vocabulary control is the result of a traditional focus on an oral approach to teaching language. The Audiolingual method focuses on the oral skills of speaking and listening and sees reading and writing merely as a reinforcer of the oral skills. The skills involved in reading and, consequently, vocabulary development, are not among the goals of the Audiolingual method and so are ignored. The second reason for the lack of research can be found in the general view of language and the methods used to teach the language. Twaddell (1972) points out that language consists of two elements - that of choice and that of habit. Choice is what creates the meaning and is under the control of the language user. Habit, on the other hand, is represented by the conventions (phonology and syntax) of the language. The user does not control this aspect of language because it is what orders the meaning for anyone using the language (i.e. the "universal" element) (Twaddell, 1972). The important difference between choice and habit is that we, as native speakers, do not normally pay much attention to the 'habit' part of language (since we are so familiar with its relatively predictable structure). We attend to the meanng of the language because we cannot predetermine the choices. However, the second language learner does not have the familiarity with the language so both choice and habit are novel and become noticeable. Twaddell (1972) points out that anything we notice is meaningful. The second language learner notices everything about the language because it is all novel to him. He's unable to focus on the appropriate meaningful cues because everything he sees and hears is meaningful. 32 As noted in Chapter I, Goodman (1967) has described reading as a "psycholinguistic guessing game." However, the second language learner is in no position to deal with the reading material in this way. Carlos Yorio (1971) sums up the differences between the native and second language learner's situation with respect to the psycholinguistic view of reading: 1. The second language reader's knowledge of the foreign language is not like that of the native speaker. 2. The guessing or predicting ability needed to pick up the correct cues is hindered by the imperfect knowledge of the language. 3. The wrong choice of cues of the uncertainty of the choice makes associations more difficult. 4. Due to the unfamiliarity with -the material and lack of training, the memory span in a foreign language in the early stages of its acquisi- tion is usually shorter than in our native language. 5. At all levels, and at all times, there is interference of the native language. Yorio, 1971. p. 108) Thus, before a beginner reader can embark on a "psycholinguistic guessing game" he must know the 'rules'. That is, as Joyce Morris (1968) explains, beginning reading instruction must focus on helping the learner to break the code 33 in order to recognize that certain aspects of the language are essentially out of his control. Twaddell (1972) explains that these rules are really explications of the habits: they explain the 'How', not the 'Why'. However, a consequence of this initial focus on the rules of the language is that it often leads second language readers to conclude that these rules really are meaningful in and of themselves. The learner does not recognize that the explicit rule focus is the means of forming habits that are taken for granted (as redundant cues) by the fluent reader. This explicit focus on the habits of the language has affected how the vocabulary is developed. In focusing on the structures - the most habitual part of the language - ESL programs have viewed the vocabulary aspect of English as a potential hazard. At the introductory and beginner levels of second language learning, the vocabulary is rigorously controlled so that there is no distraciton from the structures. It is not until the intermediate stages, when the learner is believed to have experience with many of the frequently used grammatical patterns, that vocabulary expansion is even considered (Twaddell, 1972). Lack of research in ESL reading vocabularies may be due to the fact that ESL methods are based in the psycholinguistic view of reading which has never seen the word unit as very important in the quest for meaning. Lefevre (1962) has argued that there are a number of good reasons to relegate the word unit to a secondary role: 34 1. Semanticaly and structurally, the word is an unstable element. 2. Analyzing and speaking single words in isolation may give the learner a false impression that reading is a fragmentary process. 3. In isolating words, the intonational patterns of words in context are lost. k. The essence of the sentence as a meaningful unitary pattern made up of syntactic and grammatical forms would be lost if there was a focus on the single word. While Lefevre does make some valid criticisms of a focus on the single word, he, like most proponents of the psycholinguistic approach to reading, forgets that the situation is rather different for the ESL learner who is learning how to read. Both Yorio (1971) and Twaddell (1980) stat that the lexicon is a problem for the non-native learner because he has no previous exposure to the language. This fact is probably responsible for another reason teachers and theoreticians downplay the vocabulary aspect of language learning. Language learners are constantly searching for a one-to-one relationship between their first language and the language they are learning (Twaddell, 1980). This leads the learners to focus on the word as a definitive unit of meaning and results in made dashes for dictionaries every time a new word is encountered. Obviously, such activity is inadequate and far too time-consuming to develop any kind of vocabulary so the language programs have started by using a highly controlled vocabulary which quickly becomes familiar to the students. Vocabulary expan- sion does not begin until the learner has had some experiences in his new environment so that the words have some experiental meaning associated with them. 35 This paper focuses on how language experience is developed through written materials presented to the ESL learner. As Richards (1974) pointed out, part of knowing a language is having a sufficient vocabulary for use in a given situation. This tenet implies two things: I) that the use of vocabulary is dependent upon the particular situation (or context) and, consequently, 2) learners must be exposed to a wide variety of contexts in order to develop a large vocabulary which will lead to competency in the language. By determining the frequency distribution of words in the YES! series and examining both the high and low frequency words used, conclusions will be drawn with respect to the method of selection of words, the control of vocabulary (as a means of achieving an adequate sight vocabulary), and the pedological consequences of such selec- tion and control. 36 CHAPTER 3 The major focus of this study is to examine the written language being presented to ESL students. The text series YES! will be described in terms of the word frequency distribution. As Dolch (I960) pointed out, it is vocabulary control - composed of the introduction of new words and the re-use of "old" words - that maintains and increases sight vocabulary. The primary criterion upon which vocabulary control will be studied is word frequency. By observing the frequency distribution of the words as the series progresses from level A to level F the following hypotheses will be tested: H y p o t h e s i s I : Since the YES! series aims to teach language that is meaningful and that has immediate value, the word frequency distribution will reflect that of the target language in three important ways: a) The word frequency distribution will be similar to that predicted by Twaddell (1980), i.e. a "ski slope". b) The frequency distribution of the words in the YES! series will be similar to frequency distribution of published lists. c) The most frequent words found in the YES! series will be significantly correlated with the most frequent words found in the published word lists. 37 Hypothesis 2: Since the YES! series aims to teach language for communication, the development of the series will recognize the need for the ESL child to become familiar with a vast number of different words. To enable maximum exposure to the vocabulary of the target language, the YES! series should be developed in the following manner: a) As the series progresses from Book A to Book F, there will be an increase in the number of different words. The result of this increase will be increase in the type-token ratio. b) There will be little correlation between the words used in the earlier books of the series (A to C) and those used in the later books -of-the series (D to F) because Books A-C are introductory while Books D-F expand on what was taught in the earlier books. c) The number of low frequency words will increase as the series progresses from Book A to Book F because the number of words for each book increases. Hypothesis 3: Since the ESL children are unlike their native counterparts in that they are not familiar with oral language before they are introduced to the written form of the language, the textbook series ESL children use will be different from the basal reading series used by native speaking children in the following ways: 38 a) The first two books of the ESL series YES! will have a higher type-token ratio (fewer repetitions) than specified levels of the Ginn 720 Series (Levels 2, 3, 4, and 5) and the MacMillan series (Levels 4, 5, 6 and 7) because a greater variety of words are introduced to the ESL learner who has a very small oral vocabulary. b) The majority of word types found in the first two books of the ESL series YES! will not be found in either of the basal reading series under investigation because the ESL learner does not start with the same stock of oral vocabulary. c) The "typical" vocabulary load of the first five levels of basal reading series (Dolch, I960), as outlined in Chapter I, will not be found in the YES! series because ESL students need to be exposed to so many more word types as quickly as possible in order to communicate effectively. Instead, many more words will be found in the ESL books than in the first five levels of a typical basal reading series. These three hypotheses will be tested by looking at three dimensions of the words in the YES! series: 1) the most frequently occuring words in the series; 2) the least frequently ocurring words in the series; 3) the level at which the words are introduced. 39 This chapter will describe the sample, the procedure for the collection of data, and the methods used to analyze the data. Testing these hypothesis will permit the YES! series to be described in terms of vocabulary control and will allow conclusions to be drawn regarding the ability of the series to prepare the child for regular classroom activities. Knowing about the frequency distribution of words will enable the development of teaching strategies and materials design by pointing out the contexts in which language occurs and the effects of the contexts upon the vocabulary selection. The Sample The source of the data is Lars Mellgren and Michael Walker's Young English Series; YES! (1977/78). YES! was chosen because it is a standard, widely used text for young ESL learners. The series consists of six books, A - F, with accompanying workbooks for D - F. Each of the Teachers' Guide lists structures and vocabulary for the designated book and for the previous books. New 'structures/structural words' and 'vocabulary expressions' for each book are listed by the page on which they are first presented. The number of times each word or expression is presented is not given. Presentation of the series should, ideally, progress from Book A to Book F. However, books A to C are considered "entry level" texts and are described by the authors as follows: 40 I. Book A has no printed matter. This level is probably suitable for students who have had very little or no reading experience in their own language. They may be from six to eight years old, depending on when they started school. 2) Book B introduces the printed word. This level reviews and reinforces Book A, and offers a limited amount of new vocabulary. The students may be from seven to nine years old. 3. Book C introduces writing skills. It reviews, reinforces and expands on Books A and B. The students may be from eight to ten years old. (Mellgren and Walker, Book C: Teachers' Guide, 1977, p. v) They stress that each of these three books introduces a new linguistic skill, starting with listening and speaking in Book A and going to reading Book B and writing in Book C. The authors suggest that a student may be entered at any one of these three levels. Mastery of the contents of the first three levels is considered a necessary prerequisite to progress to the higher three levels in the series. This is because D, E, and F assume competency in the listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills presented in the earlier books. Book D emphasizes reading and writing while Book E stresses grammar and Book F expands on previously learned material in an effort to stimulate production of the language. The workbooks for these three levels reinforced the material learned in the text by emphasizing writing skills. 41 Procedures for Collection of Data The data consists of all words in the YES! described above. The definition of the word, for the purpose of this study is: A word is defined as consisting of any number of letters bounded by space on both the right and the left. In other words, words with plural endings or other morphological derivations were counted as words and not subsumed under the base word (as many word frequency studies do). Furthermore, words that were part of pictures were also included in the data. The only stipulation for these words was that they had to be clearly visible. The words of each book in the series were typed, in lower case letters, into separate files in the computer. There was no punctuation used except to define abbreviations (i.e. to distinguish 'us' from 'u.s') and denote the possessive case, '"s". After this was done, two additional files were created; one containing all the words from all the books and workbooks and another containing only the words from the books, levels A - F. In order to determine the frequency and rank order of the words in each of these files, a program was run to count the words in a given file, give a frequency and rank listing, and print the results. The limitations to the program 42 were that no word over forty characters would be counted and that the total maximum number of words to be counted would not exceed 30,000 (Miller, 1975). Analysis of Data Analysis of the data was accomplished by using computer programs, comparison by percentages, and the Pearson correlation in order to describe and draw conclusions about the development of sight words in the YES! series. A) Computer Programs Because the word count program itself was already described, the informa- tion given by running the program will be focused upon here. The program gives the total number of words in the sample file (the number of tokens) and the total number of different words in the sample file (types). Two words lists are produced. The first list, an alphabetical ordering of words, gives the number of times a particular word occurs in the sample file and the percent frequency with which it occurs in comparison to all other words. The second list is a rank ordering of the words and again gives the number of times a particular word occurs. In addition to this, the second list also shows the cumulative frequency of the words up to any given ranking. For example, the rank list showed that the first ten words accounted for almost 23 percent of the total number of words (tokens) in the file containing the words from the six books in the series 43 (designated the Total Word Count). The program also gives a type-token ratio which indicates the repetitiveness of the words in the books (A-F) and the series as a whole. The larger the type-token ratio, the less repetition of words. The second computer program that was used was one which computed the Pearson correlation coefficient. This correlation was used to compare the frequencies of the 321 most frequent words of the YES! series as a whole (i.e. the six books added together to make up the Total Word Count) with the freqencies of the same words as counted in each of the levels (A - F) of the series. The correlation was also used to compare the 321 most frequent words of the Total Word Count with published word lists which also give frequency counts (Durr's "188 Words of More than 88 Frequencies", 1973; Carroll et al. The Word Book, 1971; and Rinsland's Basic Vocabulary-of.-Elementary School Children, I 945). B) Comparison by percentages Comparison could not be done between the word frequency data collected from the YES! series and word lists that gave no frequency information. However, many such lists are of interest because they propose to describe the word distribution of one or more of the language skills of speech, writing, or reading. It was decided that comparing a cross-section of such lists in order to determine how the YES! seires controls vocabulary in these language skill areas would aid in describing the words of the series. A brief description of each of the lists used for comparison follows. 44 Hillerich's "240 Starter Words" (1974) which constitutes a basic language arts vocabulary for reading and writing. The list is based on five previously published lists (Carroll et al., Hillerich, Kucera-Francis, Rinsland, and Thorndike). This list was selected because of its application to the language arts. Durr's "188 Words of more than 88 Frequencies" (1973). This list allowed for a comparison to be made between the ESL data and words of high frequency in popular library books children select. Proper names were omitted and only base words of common inflected and compound words were counted. Durr points out that the top ten words on his list account for twenty-five percent of the total running words in his sample. He suggests that instant recognition of these few words would greatly facilitate reading. The list of 188 words he gives accounts for only six percent of the word types, but almost seventy-two percent of the word tokens. Rinsland's Basic Vocabulary of Elementary School Children (1945) offers a quantitative analysis of words written by children in grades I through 8. All words are counted just as they occur (i.e. roots, inflectional forms, abbrevi- ations, and contractions are counted separately). This list has been chosen for comparison in an attempt to determine whether the YES! series is offering a vocabulary that aids in written production of the language. 45 Dale's list of '769 Easy Words' resulting from "A Comparison of Two Word Lists" (1931). This list was developed by determining the commonality between the International Kindergarten List and the first one thousand words of the Thorndike list. The importance of this list lies on the fact that a number of readability formulas used it in their calculations. Johnson's A Basic Sight Vocabulary for Beginning Reading (1971). This Iists gives the oral and printed frequencies for 306 words which combine the Kucera- Francis list based on printed English (1967) and Murphy's list of oral words (1957). This list was used because frequencies are given for each word in both the oral and printed genre. Comparisons by percentages will be done to show the relationships between the Total Word Count for the series and other published lists (as described above) of high frequency words. Percentages are also used to describe the development of types and tokens throughout the series itself. In this way, the percentage of new words presented in each book, the relative importance of a given word from level to leve, and the frequency distribution of the most common words from level to level may be examined. More specifically, the three hypothesis stated at the beginning of this chapter will be tested in the following wasy: 46 1) Hypothesis I, which deals with the similarity between the frequency distribution of the words in YES! as compared to 'standard' English, will be tested by first expanding upon the information given by the computer program with respect to the number of types and tokens. This information will be used to graphicaly compare the frequency distribution of the words in the YES! series to that of the 'standard' language and other published word lists. The hypothesis will be further tested by correlating the most frequent words found in the YES! series with high frequency words found in published word lists. 2) Hypothesis 2 is concerned with the development of the series from Book A to Book F. This hypothesis will be tested by using the information obtained from the Word Count program and by using the Pearson Correlation. 3) Hypothesis 3 aims to show the differences in word distribution between the YES! series and two basal reading series (the Ginn 720 and the MacMillan series). To do this, comparable levels of readability had to be determined for the YES! series. This was done by using the Spache Readability Formula (Covell, 19 ). Then comparisons were made on the basis of the type-token ratios, the word types occurring in the basal series versus the ESL series, and the number of "new" words introduced in each book. 47 The purpose of testing the three hypothesis is not merely to conclude that the vocabulary control exhibited by the YES! series is different from that of basal reading series. Intuitively, we already know this to be so. The ultimate goals of this study are to determine if ESL series such as YES! are supplying vocabulary that will be necessary in a regular classroom situation and what teacher and designers of materials can do to help familiarize the ESL student with the vast number of words necessary to communicate effectively. By looking at word frequency, we will be able to determine which words occur most often in the series, how they are developed throughout the series, and how they compare with published word frequency lists which reflect the types of words the child is most likely to frequently encounter in his experiences in the school and community environment. Given this information, teachers and authors can design programs to accentuate and supplement was already exists. All words were entered into the computer in lower case lettering since any change in visual cues led to the word being counted as a different word even if the change was merely capitalization to begin a sentence (i.e. 'the' and 'The' would be counted as different words). This characteristic of the computer is particularly problematic when a word has more than one meaning. A word may have an inflated word frequency merely because it has two or more meanings and is subsumed under one orthographic type. Furthermore, a proper noun may be subsumed under a word type that has a totally different meaning simply because it becomes orthographically identical to that other word. For example, if a story 48 happens to deal with the 'Green' family every instance of reference to one ot its members by their last name will be counted as an instance of 'green' along with the color 'green'. Thus, semantics cannot be dealt with using this method of word collection and organization. What is being examined is the words, in their visual form, that ESL children must recognize and ultimately understand to word with the YES! series successfully. The series claims to develop reading, writing, and oral skills. By comparing the frequency of the words used in the series to those used by the general speaking population (as defined by published word lists) conclusions will be drawn as to how well these goals are being met with respect to the vocabulary control exhibited. 49 CHAPTER 4 The hypotheses stated in this paper are concerned with how well the Y E S ! series reflect the language it is proposing to teach. Word frequency analysis is used to make this evaluation because it is an objective method and it allows comparison with studies done on the target language, as well as permitting descriptive analysis. The first hypothesis, directly compares the number of types and tokens found in Y E S ! with Twaddell's (1980) prediction concerning the shape of the frequency distribution curve. This hypothesis also predicts a similarity between the frequency distribution of the Y E S ! series and that of published word lists that have been used to guide and predict the content of materials for reading, writing, and speaking. As was pointed out in Chapter .3, the computer program WORDCOUNT gave alphabetical listing of the words, a rank order listing of the words (with their respective frequencies and cumulative frequencies), and statistical infor- mation. Table I gives a summary of the types and tokens found in the series as a whole. T A B L E I A Summary of All Types and Tokens Found in the YES! Series Total number of words Total number of sorted words (Tokens) = 33,549 (Types) = 2,799 50 Thus, Table I shows that YES! series includes a running total of 33, 549 words of which 2,799 are different. However, for the purpose of testing Hypothesis I more detailed information about the relationship between the types and tokens is needed. Therefore, the percentage of types and tokens accounted for by the first I, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, ... 1000 most frequent word types was calculated for the series as a whole. Table 2 shows the results of this tabulation. The 2 important features of this table are that: 1. There are a few high frequency words that account for most of the runing words in the series, i.e. a) the 10 most frequent words account for almost 23% of the running words in the series; b) the 70 most frequent words account for almost 50% of the running words in the series; c) the 400 most frequent words account for nearly 75% of the running words in the series; and, d) the 1000 most frequent words account for over 89% of the running words in the series. 2. The few high frequency words that account for most of the running words actually make up an extremely small portion of the number of different words accounted for, i.e. 51 TABLE 2 % of Tokens and Types Accounted for by 1st I, 10, 20, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 150, 200 250, 300, 350, 400, ... 1,000 Words in the Count (i.e. Books A - F) * % of tokens (running % types (diff. words) // of Words words) accounted for accounted for I 5.6514 .0357 10 22.9306 .3573 20 32.4540 .7145 30 38.5168 1.0718 40 42.5646 1.4291 50 45.5811 1.7863 60 47.8584 2.1436 70 49.5872 2.5009 80 51.4755 2.8582 90 53.0791 3.2154 100 54.7736 3.5727 150 60.1328 5.3591 200 64.4833 7.1454 250 68.2733 8.9318 300 71.3285 10.7181 350 73.5357 12.5045 400 74,8905 14.2908 450 77.5403 16.0772 500 79.1991 17.8635 550 80.8996 19.6499 600 82.4153 21.4362 650 84.0442 23.2226 700 84.0442 25.0090 750 85.3215 26.7953 850 89.3857 30.3680 900 89.3857 32.1543 950 89.3857 33.9407 ,000 89.3857 33.7270 52 a) The 10 most frequent words that account for almost 23% of the running words do not even make up I % of the different words that will be encountered in the series; b) the 70 most frequent words that accounted for almost 50% of the running words, make up only 2.5% of the types found in the series c) the 400 most frequent words that accounted for nearly 75% of the running words, make up only 14% of the word types that will be encountered; and, d) the 1000 most frequent words (accounting for 89% of the running words) makes up less than 36% of the different words that will be encountered. The two features point out the -nonlinear relationship between the word types and the word tokens found in the series. Figure I depicts the relationship that exists between the types and tokens. Graphically, such a relationship looks like the "ski slope" predicted by Twaddell (1980). Thus, part (a) of Hypothesis I has been proven correct. The word frequency distribution is quantitatively similar to Twaddell's prediction. Table 2 and Figure I combine to show that there are very few high-frequency words, a slightly larger group of medium frequency words, and an infinite number of low frequency words. Figure 1 - Percentage of Tokens Accounted for by 35.72 of Types (1000 Di f ferent Words) # of Words 1000 900 800 700 600 500 400 300 200 100 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 % Tokens 90 100 54 Part (b) of Hypothesis I further supports the findings of part (a). Part (b) states that the frequency distribution of the words in the YES! series will be similar to frequency distributions of published word lists. Since published word lists reflect the target language by collecting printed, spoken, and/or written samples of the language, the frequency distribution displayed by their lists will reflect the target language. Thus, comparisons were made between the word frequency distribution of the YES! series and those of published word lists produced by Johnson (1971), Durr (1973) and Walker (1979). Table 3 shows the relationships existing between the types and tokens for each of the three published word lists and the list compiled for the YES! series. Table 3 shows that there is a high degree of consistency between the percentage of tokens accounted for by the first through the two hundredth word for the four lists. After the two hundredth word, the YES! series tends to have slightly higher percentages. This is probably due to the fact that the sample for the YES! list (i.e. the number of tokens) is much smaller than for the other three lists. This fact is also reflected in the much larger percentage of types accounted for by any given number of words. (In this respect, Durr's list is quite similar to the YES! list.) The similarity between published lists and the YES! series is further revealed in graphing the information of Table 3. Figure 2 compares the percentage of tokens accounted for by the published lists and the YES! series. Figure 2 - 500 r Percentage of tokens accounted for by the 500 most frequent words in the YES! series and the Published L i s t s of Walker, Johnson, and Durr. • A A * ' A x • A . A « A * Legend Durr Johnson Walker YES! 56 Tokens Accounted For T A B L E 3 Type Relationship for Token tor 3 Published Word Lifts and the YES! Serlej U i i Johnson'* (Pf intedl Tokens . 1,014,232 " T y p e = 50,406 Walker Number of Words 10 20 30 40 SO «0 70 80 90 100 ISO 200 2 SO 300 350 400 450 500 550 £00 650 700 750 800 850 900 950 1000 % Tokens Accounted Tor 6.8989 24.2562 31.0353 35.3276 38.3278 40.6573 42.5194 44.1024 45.3904 46.4532 47.3S89 50.8420 53.0180 54.5503 SS.636I % Types Accounted For .0020 .0200 .0397 .0595 .0794 .0992 .1190 .1389 .1587 .1786 .1984 .2976 .3968 .4560 .5952 Tokens = 105,280 Tokens a 5,088,721 Types = 3,220 Types i 86,741 % Tokens % Types % Tokens % Types Accounted For Accounted For Accounted For Accounted For 5;9622 .0311 7.3507 .0012 23.7SS7 .3106 24.5397 .0115 32.5247 .6211 31.5341 .0230 37.8390 .9317 35.9627 .0346 42.2122 1.2422 39.SI86 .0461 45.9273 1.5528 42.5376 .0576 48.9723 1.8630 45.0823 .0692 51.7620 2.1739 47.3567 .0807 54.1799 2.4845 49.3452 .0922 56.1598 2.7950 51.0077 .1038 57.8894 3.1056 52.5268 .1153 64.7426 4.6584 58.5238 .1729 62.7030 .2306 68.3959 .3459 68.3959 .34 59 70.5410 .403S 72.3245 .4611 73.8752 .5188 75.2512 .5764 YES! Series Tokens ' 23,549 Types = 2,799 % Tokens % Types Accounted For Accounted For 5.6514 22.9306 32.4540 38.5168 42.5646 45.811 47.8584 49.5872 SI.4755 53.0791 54.7736 60.1329 64.4833 71.3285 71.3285 73.5357 74.8905 77.5403 79.1991 80.8996 82.4153 84.0442 84.0442 85.3215 87.4810 89.3857 89.3957 89.3857 89.3857 .0357 .3573 .7145 1.0718 1.4291 1.7863 2.1436 2.5009 2.8582 3.2154 3.5727 5.3591 7.1454 10.7181 10.7181 12.5045 14.2908 16.0772 17.8635 19.6499 21.4362 23.2226 25.0090 26.7953 29.5816 30.3680 32.1543 33.9407 35.7270 57 Part (c) of Hypothesis 1 correlates the most frequent words found in the YES! series with high frequency words found in published word lists. Published' word lists are compiled in an effort to describe which words of the language will be encountered most often. It is argued that knowing the most frequent words is important to learning language in general (since the most frequent words are the structural basis for coherence), to decoding new words (Walker, 1979 suggests that high frequency; words set up the context by which new words can be deciphered), and to fluent reading (Durr, 1973). Thus, if the YES! series is highy correlated with published word lists which reflect the frequency distribution of the words that will be encountered in learning the language, the series will be doing its job of exemplifying standard language. In order to make correlations between the YES! series and published word lists a decision had to be reached on what could be considered a high frequency word with the sereis. Two important factors had to be considered with respect to forming a high frequency word list. First, such a list cannot be too large because it would be of no practical value to teachers, students, or material writers. Second, the list should not be too small. A list that is too small merely reflects the necessary very high frequency words that are found on all lists because they are the structure words (i.e. prepositions, conjunctions, pronouns). Thus, in order to determine if the YES! series was unique in the frequent use of certain words, enough words had to be selected in order to reveal the charac- teristics of the series. 58 It was decided that high frequency words would be defined as the words that made up 70% of the running words in the series. This meant that if the child knew the words that made up 70% of the tokens, he would, on average, know seven out of every ten words. Walker (1979) felt that this was an acceptable level for elementary shool children. However, because there are many words with the same frequency in the series, the high frequency words totalled 321 and accounted for nearly 72% (71.8859%) of the running words. The 321 most frequent words of the YES! seires is shown in Table 4. The list, along with its accompanying frequencies, formed the basis for comparison with the published word lists of Walker (1979), Durr (1973), Johnson (1945). For each word on the YES! list, a frequency of occurrence was obtained from each of the published word lists. Then all of the data was .put into the computer which statistically determined the correlation between each of the lists. Table 5 shows the results of the relationships in the form of a Pearson Correlation Coefficients table. Table 5 shows that the YES! list correlates highly with all the published word lists. Walker's list has the highest correlation with the YES! list (.8574) while Johnson's Oral vocabulary rates as the lowest correlation (.7007). This means that the ranking of the words of the YES! series that are common to the other lists is more similar to the Walker list than the Johnson Oral Vocabulary list with the other three lists falling somewhere between these two extremes. TABLE 4 A Rank Order List of the 321 Most Frequent Words in the YESi Series Frequency Frequency Frequency 1. the 1897 23. do 229 45. yes 105 2. is 1061 24. at 221 46. as 104 3. a 916 25. how 216 47. car 96 4. he 655 26. your 195 48. old 90 5. you 618 27. where 177 49. going 86 6. to 554 28. no 176 50. name 82 1. in 544 29. does 172 51. like 81 8. and 509 30. there 165 52. not 81 9. what 486 31. for 163 53. me 80 10. she 454 32. her 152 54. Oh 80 II. 1 431 33. when 139 55. an 79 12. are 369 34. but 136 56. why 75 13. it 365 35. that 134 57. doing 73 14. did 353 36. it's 131 58. mary 73 15. was 324 37. one 128 59. up 72 16. they 304 38. were 127 60. torn 70 17. my 283 39. go 126 61. said 69 18. can 257 40. have 122 62. see 68 19. of 256 41. with 118 63. or 66 20. this 253 42. two 1 14 64. am 64 21. his 250 43. what's 110 65. school 64 22. on 233 44. we 107 66. from 63 Table 4 Cont'd Frequency 67. him 63 68. all 62 69. had 62 70. now 62 71. bus 61 72. can't ^ 61 73. I'm 61 74. book 60 75. many 60 76. out 60 77. very 60 78. who 60 79. day 59 80. don't 59 81. big 57 82. color 55 83. get 55 84. help 55 85. fly 53 86. world 53 87. she's 52 88. their 52 89. right 51 90. than 51 Frequency 91. about 49 92. good 49 93. home 48 94. play 48 95. brother 47 96. friend 47 97. only 47 98. ten 47 99. dog 46 00. house 46 01. into 46 02. make 46 03. mother 46 04. then 46 05. man 45 06.nine 45 07. too 45 08. wearing 45 09. father 44 10. little 44 II. these 44 12. three 44 13. jsister 43 14. take 43 Frequency 115. five 42 116. Mr. 42 117. know 41 118. number 41 119. long 40 120. much 40 121. by 39 122. didn't 39 123. eight 39 124. say 39 125. white 39 126. he's 38 127. yourself 38 128. first 37 129. cat 36 130. dan 36 131. monday 36 132. new 36 133. our 36 134. people 36 135. work 36 136. wrong 36 137. years 36 138. yesterday 36 Table 4 Cont'd Frequency Frequency Frequency 139. green 35 163. please 31 187. brown 26 140. looking 35 164. seven 31 188. come 26 141. red 35 165. because 30 189. find 26 142. time 35 166. last 30 190. here 26 143. bird 34 167. morning 30 191. maria 26 144. blue 34 168. next 30 192. start 26 145. four 34 169. over 30 193. stop 26 146. has 34 170. reading 30 194. could 25 147. hat 34 171. understand 30 195. other 25 148. lion 34 172. write 30 196. read 25 149. look 34 173. yellow 30 197. river 25 150. them 34 174. children 29 198. store 25 151. tree 34 175. every 29 199. street 25 152. twenty 34 176. eat 28 200. word 25 153. buy 33 177. fill 28 201. zoo 25 154. eating 33 178. live 28 202. answer 24 155. train 33 179. walk 28 203. ask 24 156. want 33 180. ball 27 204. best 24 157. six 32 181. black 27 205. boy 24 158. some 32 182. bob 27 206. english 24 159. tall 32 183. page 37 207. james 24 160. way 32 184. peter 27 208. most 24 161. doesn't 31 185. sally 27 209. saw 24 162. listening 31 186. be 26 210. swimming 24 Table 4 Cont'd Frequency 211. test 24 212. under 24 213. well 24 214. yard 24 215. again 23 216. elephant 23 217. giant 23 218. later 23 219. minutes 23 220. more 23 221. off 23 222. snow 23 223. so 23 224. they're 23 225. thirty 23 226. use 23 227. whole 23 228. after 22 229. bed 22 230. carry 22 231. forty 22 232. garden 22 233. jack 22 234. o'clock 22 Frequency 235. put 22 236. sweater 22 237. tennis 22 238. took 22 239. carrying 21 240. door 21 241. girl 21 242. hair 21 243. listen 21 244. living 21 245. open 21 246. pen 21 247. plane 21 248. show 21 249. washing 21 250. came 20 251. captain 20 252. down 20 253. sir 20 254. small 20 255. soup 20 256. tv 20 257. twelve 20 258. week 20 Frequency 259. bag 19 260. eleven 19 261. garage 19 262. gas 19 263. isn't 19 264. its 19 265. just 19 266. lunch 19 267. meany 19 268. mexico 19 269. miss 19 270. mrs. 19 271. paper 19 272. piece 19 273. police 19 274. says 19 275. susan 19 276. thank 19 277. waiter 19 278. water 19 279. window 19 280. bank 18 281. chair 18 282. circus 18 Table 4 Cont'd Frequency 283. england 18 284. f riday 18 285. happy 18 286. hello 18 287. if 18 288. morris 18 289. must 18 290. park 18 291. pat 18 292. purple 18 293. sam 18 294. shoes 18 295. table 18 296. that's 18 297. top 18 298. watch 18 299. animals 17 300. any 17 301. baseball 17 302. bike 17 303. bill 17 304. friends 17 305. full 17 306. full 17 Frequency 307. horse 17 308. left 17 309. miles 17 310. milk 17 311. practice 17 312. ride 17 313. short 17 314. sitting 17 315. swim 17 316. trash 17 317. try 17 318. us 17 319. wanted 17 320. Wednesday 17 321. which 17 64 TABLE 5 Pearson Correlation Coefficients for Published Word Lists of Walker, Durr, Johnson (Printed and Oral), Rinsland and 321 Most Frequent Words of the YES! Series YES WALK DURR JP JO RINS YES 0.8574 (232) p=0.000 0.8480 (147) p=0.000 0.8021 (175) p=0.000 0.7007 (175) p=0.000 0.8234 (303) p=0.000 WALK 0.9247 (145) p=0.000 0.9867 (163) p=0.000 0.6143 (163) p=0.000 0.8545 (232) p=0.000 DURR 0.6954 (137) p=0.000 0.8874 (137) p =0.000 (147) p =0.000 JP 0.5698 (175) p=0.000 0.8228 (175) p =0.000 JO 0.8666 (175) p=0.000 RINS 65 Note also that the degree of correlat ion has nothing to do with how many words are common to the two lists being correlated. The correlation is concerned with the ranking of the words that are common. Thus, while the Rinsland list has 303 words that are common to the YES! l ist, it also has a lower correlat ion than the Walker list which has has only 232 words that are common A more revealing s tat i s t ic that can be derived f rom the correlations is 2 obtained by squaring the correlat ion (i.e. r ). This stat i st ic gives a percentage which ref lects the likelihood of a word in a given list having the same ranking as that word in the YES! l ist. Table 6 shows the percentages for the likelihood of finding this match. to the YES! l ist. T A B L E 6 Likelihood of Words in Published Word Lists Having the Same Ranking as Words in the YES! List Walker Durr Johnson- Pr inted Johnson- Oral Rinsland YES! 73 .5% 71 .9% 64 . 3% 4 9 . 1 % 67 .8% Table 6 tends to more clearly reveal which lists are most l ike YES! in their ranking of common words. The Walker and Durr lists are better suited for ref lect ing the words in the YES! series than are the other lists. 66 This table, along with Table 5, also shows that the oral vocabulary ranking presented in Johnson's list is quite unlike most of the other lists which reflect printed and written materials. The Johnson Oral and Printed Vocabularies are made up of the same words. However, the ranking of these words is quite different. Table 5 shows that the I 75 words that both lists have in common with the YES! list correlate quite differently. The Johnson-printed has a correlation of 0.8021 while the Johnson-Oral is .7007. This difference is further demon- strated in Table 6 where the likelihood of the words having the same ranking as YES is 64.3% for the printed list and 49.1% for the oral list. Thus, there is a difference between the ranking of words used orally and those used in print and writing. Given the same words (as Johnson does), the YES list will be reflected in the printed ranking far better than in the oral ranking. It has been shown in testing Hypothesis I that a) the word frequency distribution of the words in the YES! series show the typical "ski slope" shaped described by Twaddell (1980); b) the frequency distribution of the words in the YES! series is similar to that of a sample published word lists; and c) the correlation between the words of published word lists and the YES! series is high for lists which reflect printed and/or written vocabulary. Hypothesis 2 is concerned with the vast number of different words the ESL child will need to becme familiar with in order to be able to communicate effectively in the target language. The testing of this hypothesis involves looking at how the series develops from Book A to Book F. 67 To test the part (a) of this hypothesis, the number of running words (tokens), the nu;mber of different words (types), and the ratio between the types and tokens were calculated for each book and for the series as a whole (the Total Word Count). Table 7 summarizes this information: TABLE 7 A Summary of the Word Distributions for the Six Books in the YES! Series and for the Series as a Whole (Total Word Count) Total Book A Book B Book C Book D Book E Book F Word Count Total Number of 29 2,133 4,437 8,846 8,858 9,546 33,549 Words (Tokens) Total Number of 10 214 518 1,262 1,481 1,675 2,799 Different Words (Types) Type-Token .3448 .1003 .1167 .1427 .1731 .1755 .0834 Ratio Table 7 shows that there is a steady increase, from Book A to Book F, in the number of different words as a linear one. This information is reflected in Figure 3. The table also shows that, except for Book A, there is an increase in the type-token ratio as the series progresses from Book A to Book F. A high type- token ratio means a lower rate of repetition. Thus, Book B, an early book in the Figure 3 - A Graph of the Number of D i f f e r en t Words i n Each of the 6 Books of the YES! S e r i e s . 69 The coefficients given in Table 8 clearly point out the lack of relationship between Book A and all the other books in the series. There is a negative correlation for each of the books when correlated with Book A. The information in the table also points out how alike Books D, E and F are in their rankings of words that are common to each book. The correlation between these books never drops below .92 and therefore means that there is a better than 84% chance that the ranking of a word in one of these three books will be the same in either of the other two books. However, between any one of these three books (D, E or F) and any of the first three books, there is less than a 55% chance of common words matching in ranking. Overall, the table shows that there is a developmental relationship between the books of the series if Book A is not considered. Books A..and C are highly correlated with one another and Book C has a higher correlation with Book B than any other book. Books D, E, and F show an even clearer developmental relationship as each book is more clearly correlated to the Book it preceedes than any other book in the series. Another developmental aspect that derived from looking at the 321 most frequent words in the series is that as the series progresses, more and more of these 321 words will be included. Table 9 shows how many of these words are included in each book. 70 TABLE 8 Pearson Correlation Coefficients for each of the Books in the Series A B C D E F A -0.0250 (231) p=0.328 -0.0129 (321) p=0.409 -0.0084 (321) p=0.44l -0.0385 (321) p=0.246 -0.0369 (321) p=0.255 B 0.8048 (321) p=0.000 0.4850 (321) p=0.000 0.4210 (321) p=0.000 0.3748 (321) p=0.000 C 0.7262 (321) p =0.000 0.6671 (321) p=0.000 0.5899 (321) p=0.000 D 0.9333 (321) p=0.000 0.9262 (321) p=0.000 E 0.9421 (321) p=0.000 71 TABLE 9 The Number of High Frequency Words* in Each Book Book A B C D E F Number of 5 122 234 298 302 300 words % of the 321 words 1.6% 38.0% 72.9% 92.8% 94.1% 93.4% included *The 321 most frequent words in the YES! series. Once again we see that the series develops sequentially and that Book D,_E, and F are highly similar and Book C trends to be a transition point. Thus, the number of types in each series increases as the series progresses from Book A to Book F and the type-token ratio increases during this progres- sion. Correlation show that the 321 most frequent words of the series correlate more and more highly as the series progesses. However, it should also be true that the least frequent words follow a similar developmental pattern as the most frequent words. That is, as the series progresses, there should be more and more low frequency words. To test this, Table 10 was developed to summarize the recurrence of the least frequent words in the series and their contribution to the Total Word Count. 7 2 TABLE 10 Recurrence of the Least Frequent Words* and Their Contribution to the Total Word Count Total Total Cumulative Totals # of Types % Types Recurrence % Tokens % Total Type % Total Tokens 911 32.5% I 2.7% 32.5% 2.7% 416 14.9% 2 2.5% 47.4% 5.2% 277 9.9% 3 2.5% 57.3% 7.7% 165 5.9% 4 2.0% 63.2% 9.7% 131 4.7% 5 2.0% 67.9% 11.7% 104 3.7% 6 1.9% 71.6% 13.6% * The words occurring 6 times or less in the series. The most significant information that this table reveals is: a) Words occurring only once in the series (of which -there-are 91-1) account for over 32% of the word types found in the series, and b) words occuring 6 times or less in the series account for 71.6% of the types and 13.6% of the tokens found in the series. Recall that the 321 most frequent words account for only I 1.5% of the types and almost 72% of the tokens. The fact that the distribution of the least frequent words appears to be a mirror image of the most frequent words makes these low frequency words worthy of closer inspection. However, as Table 10 indicates, there is an extremely large nujmber of these low frequency words. Thus, it was decided that rather than look at the low frequency words on the basis of the whole series, the low frequency words in each book, A through F, would be examined in an effort to determine whether the low frequency words 73 followed the same pattern as the high frequency words (i.e. an increase as the series progresses from Book A to Book F). Table 11 shows the distribution of the least frequent words in each of the books. Table I I clearly shows that as the series progresses from Book A to Book F the number of low frequency words increases. This table also shows that the percentage of low frequency word types increases as the series progresses from Book A to Book F. Furthermore, the greatest proportion of the low frequency words are accounted for by words that occur only once. The implications of these findings will be discussed in Chapter 5. In testing Hypothesis 2 it has been found that the YES! series is structured to expose the ESL child to the vast-number of-words -in -the English-language. AS the series develops, more and more word types are introduced and less and less repetition occurs. Once the child has a basic foundation from which to work (Books B and C) the series develops more consistently (i.e. Books D, E, and F) so as to fully reflect the series as a whole and the target language. The vast number of low frequency words which occur in the series (and which increase as the series progresses from Book A to Book F) again show the concern with exposing ESL children to many words. Both Hypothesis I and 2 point out the special needs of the ESL child that must be fulfilled by the ESL series YES! These children come to the classroom with little or no English and therefore need to be supplied with language that will 74 T A B L E 11 T h e D i s t r i b u t i o n o f t h e L e a s t F r e q u e n t W o r d s i n E a c h B o o k o f t h e Y E S ! S e r i e s Book A B C D E F Number of words 3 67 153 405 598 692 occurring once % of types 33.3% 31.3% 29.5% 32.1% 40.4% 41.3% accounted for Number of words occurring two 4 97 254 631 879 1012 times or less % of types 40.0% 45.3% 49.0% 50.0% 59.4% 60.4% accounted for Number of words occurring three 4 II 301 778 1017 1198 times or less % of types 40.0% 51.9% 58.1% 61.6% 68.7% 71.5% accounted for Number of words occurring four 10 124 329 879 1106 1307 times or less % of types 100% 57.9% 63.5% 69.7% 74.7% 78.0% Number of words occcuring five 137 348 951 1176 1371 times or less % of types 64.0% 67.2% 75.3% 79.4% 81.9% accounted for Number of words occuring six times or less 141 366 999 1234 1412 % of types 65.9% 70.7% 79.2% 83.3% 84.3% accounted for/book 75 enable them to communicate effectively early in their language experience. Because the ESL children lack the oral language that forms the basis for basal reading series used by native speakers, special series must be developed to enhance opportunity for both oral and written language practice. Hypothesis 3 is concerned with this very special role that an ESL series (particularly the early books in the series) must fulfill. To test Hypothesis 3 comparable data had to be obtained for the ESL and basal reading series. The two basal reading series that were chosen were the Ginn 720 series and the MacMillan series. Because the concern was with the early books in the ESL series, only lower levels of the basal reading series were chosen to be used in the comparison. The choice of the specific levels was determined on the basis of age equivalency because no readability formula could be found to estimate pre-primers and primers. Thus, Levels 2, 3, 4, and 5 were chosen from the Ginn 720 seires. (Levels 2 and 3 make up the pre-primers, Level 4 is the primer, and Level 5 is the first reader). Levels 4, 5, 6, and 7 were selected from the MacMillan series where Levels 4, 5, and 6 make up the pre- primers and Level 7 makes up the primer. From the YES! series, Books A and B (which are suggested for six to nine year olds) were estimated to be of pre- primer and primer status since neither book met maximum readability on the Spache Table for calculation of grade level readability (Spache, 1975). Table 12 has been developed to compare the distribution of words within the three series. 76 The table shows information for individual books in the series and for the books tallied together in each of the three series. The information given in Table 12 can be summarized as follows: a) There are many more tokens in the basal reading series than in the YES! series (i.e. the Ginn 720 series has over five times as many words token and the MacMillan series has more than double the number of word tokens. b) While the YES! series has the least number of word types of the three series, it has only slightly less than half of the number of word types as the MacMillan series which has the most word types of the three series. c) The YES! seires has a higher type-token ratio than either-of-the-other two series. This indicates that the two basal reading series are more repetitive than the YES! series. Thus, part (a) of hypothesis 3 has been shown to be true. The YES! series does have fewer repetitions of words in te early books of the series than the two basal series with which it was compared. Since there are fewer repetitions of word types in the ESL series, the word types that do exist should be quite different from the word types found in the basal reading series. Part (b) of Hypothesis 3 states that, TABLE 12 A Comparison of Tokens, Types, and Type-Token Ratios for the YES! Series, the Ginn 720 Series, and the MacMillan Series YES! Ginn 720 MacMillan A B A & B 2 3 4 5 2+3+4+5 4 5 6 7 4+5+6+7 Total no. of 29 2133 2162 1792 1300 1781 6277 11,150 641 640 869 2474 4624 words (tokens) Total no. of different words 10 214 217 38 81 142 506 550 80 104 113 245 326 (types) — i - - J Type-Token .3448 .1003 .1004 .0212 .0623 .0797 .0806 .0493 .1248 .1625 .1300 .0990 .0705 Ratio 78 The majority of the word types found in the first two books of the ESL series YES! will not be found in any of the four levels of either of the two basal reading series under investigation. Testing this involved comparing the 217 word types found in the YES! A & B with word types found in either of the series. Simply stated, commonality of words on the YES! Isit with words in the basal reading series was being determined. The findings are summarized in Table 13. TABLE 13 Commonality of Words found on the YES! List with Words found in the Ginn 720 (Levels 2+3+4+5) and MacMillan (Levels 4+5+6+7) Lists // of Words in Common with YES! A & B out of a possible 217 words) % of Commonality Ginn 720 89 40% MacMillan 68 31.3% Table 13 clearly shows that the majority of the words found in the early books of YES! A & B are not found in the beginner reading books of the basal reading series used in this study. Naturally, many of the words found only in the YES! A & B series are low frequency words. However, investigation of the 79 percentage of low frequency words found in the YES! (A & B) and each of the basal reading series showed that there is a fair amount of consistency with respect to the percent of word types occurring only once. Table 14 shows this comparison: TABLE 14 Percentage of Word Types Occurring Only Once in Each of the Series % of Word Types Occurring Only Once YES! (A & B) 32.3% Ginn 720 (2+3+4+5) 27.5% MacMillan (4+5+6+7) 28.5% While the YES! (A & B) has slightly more word types occuring only once, the difference is not enough to explain the low percentage of common words between the basal reading series and YES! However, even among the fifty most frequent words found in YES! (A & B) there are several words not found in the basal reading series. Among the fifty most frequent words of YES! (A & B) there are fifteen words not anywhere on the Ginn 720 (Levels 2-5) list (i.e. 30% of the words are different from any of Ginn 720 words regardless of frequency) and nineteen words not found anywhere on the MacMillan list (Levels 4 - 7 ) (i.e. ;38%). Futhermore, if the entire 217 words of the YES! (A & B) are examined we find that there are 106 words that are not found in either of the basal series lists (i.e. 48% of te 217 words types are unique to the YES! (A & B) series). A list of these words is found in Table 15. TABLE 15 A Rank List of the 106 Words that are Unique to the YES! A & B Books 1. color 31. pencil 61. bench 91. room 2. wearing 32. seven 62. cage 92. sam 3. understand 33. short 63. cookie 93. seesaw 4. train 34. shorts 64. ears 94. seventy 5. white 35. cup . 65. england 95. s ixty 6. nancy 36. gloves 66. f i f t y 96. slide 7. jane 37. milk 67. grandfather 97. sorry 8. sweater 38. sandwich 68. grandmother 98. start 9. drinking 39. six 69. hole 99. stockings 10. number 40. socks 70. horse 100. swing I I . crayon 41. u.s.a. 71 . hundred 101. tea 12. desk 42. hands 72. j im 102. teresa 13. peter 43. hot 73. Judy 103. toronto 14. washing 44. ju l ia 74. kangaroo 104. twenty 15. listen 45. lemonade 75. kitchen 105. U.S. 16. susan 46. over 76. legs 106. (new) york 17. blouse 47. pat 77. l iving 18. skirt 48. ramon 78. mail 19. table 49. th i rty 79. mar ia 20. t ie 50. torn 80. marta 21. belt 51. twelve 81. mary 22. brother 52. very 82. merry-go-round 23. shirt 53. los angeles 83. montreal 24. ten 54. austral ia 84. nigeria 25. eight 55. banana 85. ninety 26. hair 56. barn 86. orange 27. nine 57. basket 87. pear 28. pants 58. bathroom 98. pedro 29. glass 59. bedroom 89. picture 30. morning 60. bee 90. r icardo Rl It is important to note at this time that half of these words do occur more than once in the YES! (A & B) books. Furthermoe, these words are naming nouns. This suggests that the series, as Hypothesis 3 suggests, is attempting to expose the ESL child to the many things he/she sees in his/her environment. The third part of Hypothesis 3, part (c), was designed to clearly show that the ESL series should introduce many new words much earlier in the series than the typical basal reading series. As mentioned earlier, Dolch (I960) outlined the typical basal reading series. He said that the pre-primer has 50 new words; the primer, 100 new words; the first year books, 150 new words; the second year books, 400 new words, and the 3rd year books, 600 new words. To test the distribution of new words in the YES! series, a readability score for each book had to be calculated so that the distribution of words could be compared with Dolch's claim. To do this, the Spache Readability Formula (1953) was used because it is suitable for estimating grade levels for reading materials for younger children. Following Spache specifications and recommendations for applying the Spache Formula, the f o l l o w i n g i n f o r m a t i o n was determined, a) Books A and B did not reach the minimum requirements for placement on the "Table for Quick Computation of the Readability of a Selection...." Thus, these books were considered pre-primer and primer, respectively. 82 b) Book C consisted of passages that ranged from the pre-grade one level up to a grade level of 2.5. However, an average, the readability was within the grade one area and so was considered as such. c) Book D had passages that consistently fell within the mid-grade two level of reading on the "Table for Quick Computation" and thus was designated a grade two reading level. d) Book E had very broad range of readability scores for passages (ranging from 2.1 to 3.6). However, an average, the samples indicated that the book was at a grade three level. e) Book F had reading passages that ranged in readability from 3.0 to above the maximum score (4.1) on the readability chart. However, on average, the readability was that of a near-end-of-year grade three (3.8). Thus, thisbook,too,-was considered a grade three level text. In summary, the following grade level designations were given the six books in the YES! series. Book A - pre-primer Book B - primer Book C - 1st year book (comparable to grade I) Book D - 2nd year book (comparable to grade 2) Book E - 3rd year book (comparable to grade 3) Book F - 3rd year book (comparable to grade 3) 83 Next to compare Dolch's (I960) claim of the distribution of words in basal series with that of the YES! series, the number of new words introduced in each of the six books had to be tabulated. This was done by using the Total Word Count list and designating the book in which each word was introduced. Then the number of new words introduced in each book was totalled. Table 16 shows the results of this tabulation and compares these results with Dolch's numbers. TABLE 16 The Number of New Words Introduced in Each Book of the YES! Series and the "Typical" Number of Words Introduced by a Basal Reading Series (as outlined by Dolch, I960) YES! Series Number of Words Basal Reading Number of Words Book Introduced Series Introduced A 10 Pre-primer 50 B 197 Primer 100 C 361 1st year book 150 D 880 2nd year book 400 E 699 F 653 3rd year book 600 The results shown in Table 15 are very interesting. Books B, C and D have doulbe the number of newly introduced words as their basal reading series counterparts, the primer, the first, adn the second year books. Books E and F, on the other hand, do not appear to be so very different from their basal series counterparts. Speculation as to the reason for this distribution will be discussed in Chapter 5. However, it is important to note at this time that the total 84 number of new words introduced in the five levels (be it Books A to E or pre- primer to 3rd year books) is much higher for the ESL series than it is for the "typical" basal reading series. Therefore, part (c) of Hypotheses has been proven to be correct in that far more words are introduced in the ESL series than in the basal reading series. The purpose of Chapter 4 has been to describe the results obtained from testing th three Hypotheses stated in Chapter 3. The hypotheses tested have been concerned with examining the YES! seires, word distribution in order to determine if the series recognizes the special needs of the ESL child with respect to word distribution and whether the series is reflecting the standard language so that the ESL student's final accomplishment is in being able to communicate meaningfully and effectively in the English language. The results have shown that, I) the words in the YES! series do reflect the target language; 2) the series develops to allow exposure to a large number of different words; and 3) the YES! series is not particularly similar to the basal reading series with which it was compared. The importance of these results with respect to the using frequency distribution information in teaching strategy and materials development will be discussed in Chapter 5. 85 CHAPTER 5 The purpose of this study has been to determine the extent to which the written language presented to ESL children represents the target language (English). More specifically, how and what vocabulary is presented to the ESL child has been of major concern. As was pointed out, the ESL child comes to the reading task with the serious disadvantage of having little oral meaning vocabulary upon which sight vocabulary and reading skills can be built. A decision regarding which words a child will need in order to communicate meaningfully can only be regarded as educated guessing. Predictions for word choice are typically based on foreseeing the kinds of situations children will most likely find themselves. An ESL series such as the YES! series must recognize the needs and abilities of its users. As Melgren and Walker (1977) point out, the activities must be meaningful and have immediate value. The words that are used must be within the learner's experiences. However, the words that will be used are often determined by the topic. Beyond the most frequent words which help to structure all language, vocabulary use is largely a reflection of the context. The greater the number of different contexts, the greater the number of different words needed. Thus, vocabulary control becomes more and more difficult when a great many contexts are used. 86 The hypotheses stated in this study are concerned with the frequency distribution of the words in the YES! series. By looking at this dimension of the words occurring in the series, information comparing the distribution of words in the series with that of the target language and basal reading series was obtained. More specifically, the three hypotheses were concerned that the vocabulary load of the YES! series should achieve two goals: 1) The distribution of words should represent the target language so learners gain experience using real language and not some contrived simplified version. 2) The series should aim to quickly expand the number of words the learners come in contact with in an effort to expose them to the vast number of words that must become part of their sight vocabulary in order to read and communicate successfully. These two goals reflect the needs of all young learners who will eventually be working within regular school system. It is the purpose of this chapter to review the findings of the three hypotheses and reflect upon how these findings can be useful in helping teachers and materials writers expose learners to the vast number of words that must become meaningful. The first section of this paper will, therefore, deal with interpreting the data presented in the last chapter. Then, conclusions will be drawn and recommendations for further studies in this area will be made. 87 Interpretations I. Hypothesis I Hypothesis I stated that the word frequency distribution of the YES! series should be similar to the target language. This was tested by comparing distribution of words of the YES! series with published word lists that that claimed to reflect 'standard' English in one or more of the language skills (oral, written, or read). A graph of the distribution of word types in the series (Graph I) showed that the words used in the series did reflect the "ski slope" curve described by Twaddell (1980) who pointed out that the most frequent words were really very few in number while the low frequency words were what really made up the bulk of the words used. A second graph (Graph 2) revealed that published word lists also showed this characteristic "ski slope" shape and that the distribution of words in the YES! series was simiar to those of the published lists. This hypothesis was also tested by looking at the most frequent words of the YES! series and correlating them with the most frequent words of five published word lists. Four out of the five published words lists were highly correlated with the YES! list (i.e greater than .8). However, as was pointed out, correlations only deal with ranking, not with the more basic fact of the raw number of words that are similar between the YES! list and other lists. For example, the Walker (1979) list consists of one thousand words yet only 232 of those are found in the first 321 of the YES! series. On the other hand, of the 188 words on the Durr list, 147 of these are also on the YES! list. Recognizing that 88 the YES! list, of 321 most frequent words was different from all other published high frequency lists suggested that the 321 words should be examined more closely. By simply forming a checklist and observing whether a word from the YES! list occurred on a published word list certain characteristics were observed. In making this comparison between the 321 words of YES! and four published word lists (the Dolch lists of "Basic Sight Vocabulary" and "95 Common Nouns" (I960); Hillerich's "240 Starter Words" (19740); Dale's "769 Easy Words" (1931); and Walker's list of 1000 base words of the Word Frequency Book (1979)) the following facts regarding the specific nature of the most frequent words were found: All of the most frequent 27 words of the YES! list were found in the other four lists. Words that were found on one or fewer of the published lists were typically, a) proper nouns such as 'Mary', 'Tom', 'Dan', 'Sally' and 'Mexico'. b) Nouns (particularly beyond the 200th most frequent word) such as 'zoo1, 'elephant', 'lion', 'giant', 'circus', 'baseball', 'bike1, 'trash', 'soup', and days of the week. c) Contracted forms of verbs such as 'it's', 'what's', 'can't', 'I'm', 'don't', 'she's', 'didn't', 'he's', 'they're', 'doesn't', 'isn't', and 'that's'. d) Numbers above ten (i.e. 'eleven', 'twelve', 'forty'). e) The '-ing' form of the verb (i.e. 'doing', 'wearing', 'looking', 'eating', 'listening', 'swimming', 'carrying', and 'washing'). I) 2) 89 The fact that the most frequent twenty-seven words of the YES! list are found on all lists is really not surprising in light of the evidence showing that the correlation of words is high betwen the YES! and the four published lists. However, the specific nature of many of the 321 most frequent words reveals some important information. Most important here is the contracted and '-ing' forms of verbs. While it must be recognized that most lists simply choose to cite only the base or root forms of words, the fact that the YES! series uses the contracted and '-ing' form so frequently cannot be ignored for two reasons. First, the contracted form of the verb is typically associated with oral, not printed language. The frequent occurrence of such forms suggests an attempt to expose learners to 'natural' speech. Second, the existence of the '-ing' form of the verb occurring so frequently is highly interesting. This morphological ending appears more frequently in the list of 321 words than any other ending. Moreover, the '-ing' form of the verb often occurs before the root form of the verb. This suggests that much of the language being used is in the form of continuous action. Since the verb 'was' is not introduced until book D, much of the action must be in the present continuous form. This use of verbs seems to be highly consistent with the authors' wishes to focus on the 'here and now'. A quick look through Books B and C show this to be the case with such examples as, He/She is wearing... Book B, p. 40-44) 90 I/He/She/They am/is/are eating/drinking Book B, p. 56) What are/is you/he/she doing? I/She/He am/is ing... (Book B, p. 58 - 63) (Book C, p. 42 - 47) What is she/he looking for? (BookC, p. 31) When is/are he/she/you coming/playing/going...? (Book C, p. 59, 63) Why are/is you/he/she going...? x (Book C, p. 73) The predominence of the progressive form is not insignificant. Brown (1973) studied the acquisition of fourteen grammatical morphemes by native English speaking children. (He described a grammatical morphemes as mor- phemes that either modified the meaning or clarified the relationship of the content words). Results showed that there was consistency in the orderin which there were fourteen grammatical morphemes acquired. Most important, how- ever, is the fact that the present progressive was found to be acquired first. 91 Furthermore, Dulay and Burt (1974) gathered evidence to show that the order of acquisition for the grammaticalk morphemes was universal. That is, regardless of the first language, all children acquire the Englsh grammatical morphemes in the same order. Thus, this research supports the extensive use of the present progressive in the YES! series. Larsen-Freeman (1978) has attempted to explain this universal order for the oral production of morphemes in terms of frequency rather than syntactic, semantic, or phonological complexity. Using already tabulated frequency counts for morpheme occurrences in the speech of English-speaking parents, Larsen- Freeman found significant correlation between the morpheme acquisition order of the second language learners. She concluded that more attention should be paid to the language environment to which the ESL learner is immersed: Since grammatical morphemes have limited semantic weight, perhaps it is not in morpheme acquisition where the learner's cognitive involvement is evident in the second language task. Perhaps the creative talen of the second language learner is reserved for more complicated structures, while the learner concentrates on simply matching native-speaker input for structures at the mor- pheme level. (Larsen-Freeman, 1978, p. 379) 92 Larsen-Freeman implies that certain aspects of the language are simply acquired by exposure and mimicry. While the assumption that morphemes are 'simple structures' is debateable, there is little doubt that frequency does play some role in the learning of language (Dale, 1976). The fact that the YES! series displays many repetitions of a grammatical morpheme that is of high frequency in the target language shows that the series does indeed represent the target language. In examining the results of testing Hypotheses I, the language ESL children are exposed to has been shown to represent the target language. The frequency distribution of words and the predominance of an early acquired grammatical morpheme suggests that learners are being exposed to realistic language samples. II. Hypothesis 2 Hypothesis 2 examined how the frequency distribution of words was developed thorugh the six books of the series in order to give learners ample opportunity to be exposed to many different words. The results showed that, as expected, the number of different words (types) increased as the series progressed from Book A to Book F. This was partly due to the simple fact that there was an increase in the number of running words 93 (tokens) in the series as it progressed from Book A to Book F, but was also partly the result of there being less repetition of word types in the later books of the series. This result was reflected in the low correlations obtained when comparing the early books in the series with the more advanced books in the series when looking at the 321 most frequent words occurring in the series as a whole. However, both these results, the decrease in the ratio of number of repetitions of words and the lack of correlation between the first and second half of the series, can be explained by the occurrence of lower frequency words. An examination of low frequency words (defined as occurring six times or less in the series as a whole) showed that they account for almost seventy-two percent of the total number of word types qualified to be called "low frequency words" (Table 10). This fact alone suggested that these words are going to dramatically affect any word distribution results. It was necessary to consider how these low frequency words were distri- buted across the series. The results indicated that the number of low frequency words did increase as the series progressed. Furthermore, the words occurring only once were shown to account for over 40% of the low frequency words in Books B to F. This, then, is the key to the earlier results of decreasing word type repetitions and lack of correlation. The vast number of low frequency words affects the overall distribution of words in two ways. First of all, it decreases the number of times any word other than the extremely high frequency 94 words occur. Different contexts demand different words. The later books in the series cover many more different contexts and so have many more words which are important only within the given context. This leads to the second effect that the low frequency words have on the overall distribution of words. Because there are many more different contexts, and therefore many more different words, in the later books of the series the ranking of the most frequent words is affected. This, along with the fact that 77 of the 321 most frequent words in the series were not even introduced until Book D or later, is obviously going to alter the ranking of the most frequent words. When the early books are correlated with the later books the effects of the newly introduced words are evident. The fact that the lower frequency words are so numerous and do account for such a large portion of the words the learner will encounter suggests that it is important to be aware of even the words occurring only once. Melgren and Walker have made lists of words that occur more than once in the series. However, considering there are 91 I different words (accounting for over 32% of the word types in the series as a whole) that do occur only once it is worthwhile to know more about these words. The 91 I words that occur only once in the YES! series include derivations of more common words. Since the least common words are of greater importance in the later books of the series it can be assumed that common derived forms (i.e. -ed, -s, -ing, 's or contractions) would not pose much of a 95 familiarity problem for learners and therefore could be deleted from the list. This left 512 words that truly occur only once. Of these 512 words, well over 300 are nouns. Dolch (I960) pointed out that nouns are of little universal value because they are so context specific: since different contexts require different nouns, little can be gained from knowing these words. Many of the nouns occurring here are typical of Dolch's description. There are many nouns that simply name people and places and are therefore very context specific. How- ever, a knowledge of the countries named may prove useful in constructing supplementary materials. For example, knowing that countries such as Germany, Finland, Sweden, and Poland are mentioned may initiate development of a unit on these countries. The remainder of the singularly occurring words also offer starting points for supplementary materials. For example, 'ears', 'elbow', 'hips', 'knee', 'lungs', and 'toes' all occur only once. This suggests that while certain body parts are frequently referred to (i.e. head, arm, face) many other parts of the body are not named. Knowing that the naming of most parts of the body is not included in this series allows the teacher to develop additional material to expose learners to more words. Another area that could be developed is that of food. The words 'groceries' and 'menu' occur only once. Furthermore, there are many food words that occur only once (i.e. 'vegetables', 'corn1, 'pear', 'muffin'). Using the concepts of grocery shopping or ordering off a menu could increase learners' exposure to these words and to related words that do not occur at all (i.e. meats such as chicken, beef, steak, hamburger, pork, roast, vegetables such as corn, peas, lettuce, and fruits such as pears, plums, grapes, cherries). This plan of taking a 96 low frequency word and expanding upon it can be also done for animals (words such as 'alligator1, 'bull', 'leopard', and 'otter' occur only once and therefore suggest that there are many animals not mentioned at all in the series i.e. 'cougar', 'racoon', 'skunk', 'porcupine', 'beaver', 'salmon' and 'robins'), occupations, and transporation vehicles (i.e. methods of getting from one place to another via motorcycle, subway, or submarine are all low frequency words). Thus, the point of knowing which words occur infrequently offers the possibility of developing whole supplementary units that will expand the learners' experience. The above examples show that there is a great deal of opportunity for teachers and materials developers to create interesting and valuable activi- ties to increase learners' familiarity with words they will see and use in the regular classroom and the community. The goal here is not to duplicate what series already provides but complement it with additional materials. In testing Hypotheses 2 it was found that low frequency words are a very important part in the distribution of words. High frequency words are really very few in number. The words that are not repeated over and over really make up the bulk of the words in the language presented to ESL students. Like the target language, context controls how often all but the very high frequency words occur. The results suggest that rather than repeating a few words over and over, an approach that presents more variety is used. The basis for limiting the repetitousness of words in favor of wider variety (via different contexts) encourages learners to relate what they already know in order to understand new 97 concepts. This, needless to say, is an essential step for ESL students. No ESL curriculum, no matter how extensive, can predict every word and context that will be encountered. Thus, offering a wide variety of contexts, and an opportunity to use and expand these contexts, is essential. In presenting the language to ESL learners in as natural a form as possible, the series is offering its users practical and realistic language experiences. III. Hypothesis 3 Hypothesis 3 stated that the YES! series' word frequency distribution would not be similar to basal reading series that were designed to teach native speakers to read. In light of the results of the first two hypotheses, the findings that showed the YES! series has unique characteristics when compared with the basal reading series was not surprising. Table 12 showed that the words in the basal reading series were repeated far more often than the words in the first two books of the YES! series. A closer examination of the word types used in the two types of series (ESL and basal) was undertaken to determine the effect the differing type-token ratios had upon the words used in each of the series. Table 13 showed that the highest degree of commonality of words between YES! and the two basal reading series examined was 40%. In specifying the nature of the words unique to the YES! (A & B), a list of 106 words was created (Table 15). This list is predominantly made up of nouns (i.e. words for clothing, objects, people and places). 08 Finally, it was shown that the basal reading series introduces far fewer words per level combined. An explanation for these differences may be found in the differing assumptions authors of basal and ESL reading series make about their readers. The basal reading series writers can assume that the users already have a fairly large oral vocabulary. The focus is on repeating words many times so that they quickly become part of the child's meaningful sight vocabularly. The ESL seires writers, on the other hand, are more likely to assume that its users have little oral vocabulary upon which to base reading instruction. Rather than repeating a few words over and over again, the author chooses to offer a wide variety of words that are, on average, repeated fewer times than those words found in the basal reading series. The ESL series must be concerned with total language experience while the basal reading series focuses on one language skill -reading. (This is not, however, to suggest that the basal reading series totally ignores other aspects of language. It only points out that the main concern, especially at the lower levels, is to teach children to read about things for which they already have an oral vocabulary.) The ESL series YES! recognizes the need for learners to build up a vocabulary base from which they can work and thus offers exposure to many different words. Conclusions This study has examined the frequency distribution of words in order to evaluate the language being presented to young ESL learners. Using the YES! series as an example of the language presented to ESL learners, word frequency 99 counts were used to compare the occurrence of words presented to learners with those in the English language which is being learned. The results of this study have shown that the language being presented to ESL learners is highly representative of the target language. Word frequency distribution information has shown that the language in the YES! series is not contrived or abnormally repetitive. In recognizing the lack of experience ESL learners have with the language, the YES! series has sacrificed repetition in order to broaden experience by presenting a great variety of contexts. By creating many different language situations, the learner is exposed to the language naturally. Context, however, does not guarantee the occurrence of words we may intuitively feel to be useful. Too often a context uses what are considered to be the most common words. This results in great gaps in the ESL learner's knowledge of names for things. (As was pointed out, a topic such as food may only use the most common words such as 'milk', 'bread', 'tea', and 'coffee'.) Educators and materials writers need to recognize what the ESL text does in order to be able to use it effectively. The YES! series uses an increasing number of contexts to expose the ESL learner to many different words (in as 'natural' situations as possible) in an effort to build a vocabulary for oral language as well as for sight vocabulary. Thus, it is the lower frequency words that should be of interest to those wishing to utilize this series to its full extent. IQQ A series such as YES! can be considered a base from which to develop additional activities in which the low frequency words and additional vocabulary (words not in the YES! series) can be used. This study has shown that the YES! series is unique in the nature of specific words used. Many words found in the YES! series are not found in published lists or basal reading series becasue the YES! series focuses on vocabulary expansion which means lower frequency words are typically used. Vocabulary control in this series only occurs insofar as the contexts allow. The authors have not been afraid of exposing the learner to the many words he/she will soon encounter in the regular classroom. Teachers using this series should follow Melgren and Walker's example. There should be no fear in introducing new vocabulary if it is done in such a way as to supplement what is already familiar to the learner. The YES! series offers a great many situations and contexts which can be used as starting points for activities that re-use the low frequency words of the series and introduce new words. Since there is so little material for young ESL learners, careful examination of what does exist is essential for curriculum planning. Teachers and materials writers would do well to base new materials upon wht already exists in the field. Not only is this pedagogicaly reasonable but also econmically sound. 101 REFERENCES Aukerman, Robert A. The Basal Reader Approach to Reading. Toronto, John Wiley & Sons, 1981. Bloom,, Lois (Ed.). Readings in Language Development. Toronto, John Wiley & Sons, 1978. ~* ' Bormuth, John R. (Ed.) Readability in 1968. National Conference on Research in English, 1968. Brown, Roger. A First Language; The Early Stages. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, I 973. Buckingham, B.R. and Dolch E.W. A Combined Word List. Boston, Ginn & Co., I 936. Carroll, John B, .Davies, Peter and Richmond, Barry. The American Heritage Word Frequency Book. New York, American Heritage Publishing Co. Inc., 1971. Causey, Oscar (Ed.). The Reading Teacher's Reader. New York, The Ronald Press Co., 1958. Chastain, Kenneth. Developing Second Language Skills: Theorgy to Practice, 2nd Edition. Philadelphia, Rand McNally College Publishing Co., 1976. Covell, H.M. "Worksheet for Application of the Spache Readability Formula." Vancouver, UBC, 1979. Croft, Kenneth (Ed.). Readings on English As A Second Language. Chicago, Winthrop Publishing, Inc., 1972. Croft, Kenneth (Ed.). Readings on English As A Second Language, 2nd Edition. Chicago, Winthrop Publishers, Inc., 1980. Dale, Philip S. Language Development: 2nd Edition. New York, Holt Rinehart and Winston, 1976. Dale, E. and Chall, J.S. "A Formula for Predicting Readability". Educational Research Bulletin (Ohio State U.), 27, I, I 948. Dauzat, JoAnn and Dauzat, Sam V. Reading: The Teacher and the Learner. Toronto, John Wiley and Sons, I 981. Dolch, Edward W. "A Basic Sight Vocabulary". Elementary School Journal, 36, 6, pp. 456 - 460, I 936. 102 Dolch, Edward W. Teaching Primary Reading. Champaign, III., Garrard Press, I960. Dolch, Edward W. Methods in Reading. Champaign, III., Garrard Press, 1955. Dulay, Heidi and Burt, Marjna. "Natural Sequences in Child Second Language Acquisition." Language Learning, 24, I, pp. 37-53, 1974. Durr, William K. "A Computer Study of High Frequency Words in Popular Trade Juveniles". The Reading Teacher, 27, 14, 1973. Earle, Richard A. Classroom Practices in Reading, Newark, I.R.A., 1977. Finn, Patrick J. "Word Frequency Information Theory, and Cloze Performance: A Transfer Feature Theory of Processing in Reading". Reading Research Quarterly. |3, 4, p. 508-537, 1977-78. Fry, Edward. "Developing A Word List for Remedial Reading". Elem. Eng., 34, 7, pp. 456 - 458, 1957. Fry, Edward. "Teaching A Basic Vocabulary". Elementary English, 37, I, pp. 38 -42, I960. Gates, Arthur Irving. A Reading Vocabulary for the Primary Grades. New York, Bureau of Publications Teachers College, Columbia University, 1935. Gates, Arthur I. A Reading Vocabulary for the Primary Grades: Revised and Enlarged. New York, Bureau of Publications, Teachers' College, Columbia University, 1935. Ginn & Company. Rainbow Edition, Reading 720 Series. Lexington, Ginn & Co., 1980. Gleason, Jean Berko. "The Child's Learning of English Morphology", in Lois Bloom (Ed.) pp. 39 - 59, I 978. Goodman, Kenneth S. "Reading: A Psycholinguistic Guessing Game" in Singer and Ruddell, pp. 497-508, 1967. Goodman, Kenneth S. and Goodman, Yetta M. "Learning About Psycholinguistic Processes by Analyzing Oral Reading" in C M . McCuIlough, pp. 179-201, 1980. Graves, Michael; Boettcher, Judith A.; Peacock, Judith L.; Ryder, Randall J . "Word Frequency as a Predictor of Students' Reading Vocabularies." Journal of Reading Behaviour, 12, 2, 1980. Harris, Albert J . and Jacobson, Milton. Basic Elementary Reading Vocabularies. New York, The MacMillan Co., 1972. 103 Hatch, Evelyn (Ed.). Second Language Acquisition. Rowley, Mass., Newburg House Publishers, Inc., 1978. Higa, Masanori. "The Psycholinguistic Concept of 'Difficulty' and the Teaching of Foreign Language Vocabulary" in Kenneth Croft, 1972, pp. 292 -303. Hildreth, Gertrude. Teaching Reading; A Guide to Basic Principles and Modern Practices. New York, Henry Holt and Co., 1958. Hillerich, Robert L. "Word Lists - Getting It All Together." The Reading Teacher, 27, 4, pp. 353 - 360, 1974. Horn, E. "The Commonest Words in the Spoken Vocabulary of Children Up to and Including Six Years of Age." Report of the National Committee on Reading. 24th yr. book of the Society for the Study of Educ'n, Part I, Chapt. 7, I 925. Howes, Davis H. and Solomon, Richard L. "Visual Duration Threshold as a Function of Word-Probability." Journal of Experimental Psychology, 41, 6, pp. 401-410, 1951. Ingram, Elizabeth. "Psychology and Language Learning." In Press. International Kindergarten Union, Child Study Committee. A Study of the Vocabulary of Children Before Entering First Grade. Washington, D.C, Internation Kindergarten Union, I 928. Johnson, Dale. "A Basic Vocabulary for Beginning Reading." Elem. School Journal, 72, I, pp. 29 - 34, 1971. Judd, Elliot. "Vocabulary Teaching: A Need for Re-evaluation of Existing Assumptions." TESOL Quarterly, 12, I, pp. 71 - 76, 1978. Klare, George, R. "The Role of Word Frequency in Readability." in John Burmouth (Ed.), pp. 7-17, 1968. Kucera, H. and Francis, W. Computational Analysis of Present-Day American English. Providence, Rhode Island, Brown University Press, 1967. Larsen-Freeman, Diane. "An Explanation for the Morpheme Accuracy Order of Learners of English as a Second Language." in Hatch, pp. 371-379, 1978. LeBerge, D. and Samuels, S. "Toward a Theory of Automatic Information Processing in Reading." Cognitive Psychology, 6, 2, pp. 293 - 323. 1974. Lefevre, Carl A. "Reading Our Language Patterns: A Linguistic View - Contributions to a Theory of Reading." Challenge and Experiment in Reading. New York, IRA Conference Proceedings, Vol. 7, N.Y. Scholastic Magazine, pp. 66 - 69, 1962. 104 Maclatchy, Josephine and Wardwell, Frances R. "A list of Common Words for 1st Grade." O.S.U. Educational Research Bulletin. 30. pp. 151 -159, 1951. MacMillan Publishing, Series r. MacMillan Reading. New York, The MacMillan Publishing Co., 1980. McCul lough, C M . (Ed.). Inchworm, Inchworm: Persistent Problems in Reading. Newark, IRA, 1980. Marks, Carolyn B.; Doctorow, Marleen J. ; and Wittrock, M.C "Word Frequency and Reading Comprehension." The Journal of Educational Research, 67, 6, pp. 259 - 262, 1974. Mason, Jana M. "The Roles of Orthographic, Phonological, and Word Frequency Variables on Word-NonWord Decision." American Educational Research Journal, |3, 3, pp. 199 - 206, 1976. Mellgren, Lars and Walker, Michael. YES! English for Children. Philippines, Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1977/1978. Miller, Alan. A Word Counting and Freguency Analysis Program. Vancouver, UBC Computing Centre, 1975. Morris, Joyce. "Barriers to Reading for Second Language Students at the Secondary Level." TESOL Quarterly, K), I, pp. 99 - 103, 1976. Murphy, Helen A. "The Spontaneous Speaking Vocabulary of Children in Primary Grades." J . of Educ'n (Boston), 140, 2, pp. I - 105, 1957. Nilsen, Don L.F. "Contrastive Semantics in Vocabulary Instruction." TESOL Quarterly, 10, I, pp. 99 - 103, 1976. Noble, Clyde E. "The Familiarity - Frequency Relationship." Journal of Exptal Psychology, 47, I, pp. 13 - 16, I 954. Otto, Wayne; Rude, Robert; and Spiegel, Dixie Lee. How to Teach Reading. Philippines, Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1979. Pearson, P. David and Studt, Alice. "Effects of Word Frequency and Contextual Richness on Children's Word Identification Abilities." Journal of Educational Psychology, 67, I, pp. 89 - 95, 1975. Postman, L. and Solomon, R.L. "Perceptual Sensitivity to Completed and Incompleted Tasks." Journal of Personality, 18, pp. 347 - 357, 1950. Richards, Jack C. "A Psycholinguistic Measure of Vocabulary Selection." IRAL, 8, pp. 87 - 102, 1971. 105 Richards, Jack C. "Word Lists: Problems and Prospects." RELC Journal, 5, 2, pp. 69 - 84, 1974. Rinsland, Henry D. A Basic Vocabulary of Elementary School Children. New York, MacMillan Co., 1945. Rivers, Wilga. Teaching Foreign Language Skills: 2nd Edition. Chicago, U. of Chicago Press, 1981. Rinsland, Henry D. A Basic Vocabulary of Elementary School Children. New York, MacMillan Co., 1945. Saville-Troike, Muriel. "Rdihg and the Audiolingual Method." TESOL Quarterly, 7, 4, pp. 395 - 406, 1973. Singer, Harry and Ruddell, Robert (Eds.) Theoretical Models and Processes of Reading: 2nd Edition. Newark, IRA, Inc., 1976. Smith, Frank. Understanding Reading: A Psycholinguistic Analysis of Reading and Learning to Read: 2nd Edition. Toronto, Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1978. Solomon, R.L. and Howes, J. "Word Frequency, Personal Values and Visual Duration Thresholds." Psychological Review, 58, 4, pp. 256 - 270, 1951. Solomon, R.L. and Postman, L. "Frequency of Usage as a Determinant of Recognition Thresholds for Words." J . of Experimental Psychology, 43, pp. 195 - 201, 1952. Spache, George. "A New Readability Formula for Primary Grade Reading Materials." Elementary School Journal, 53, 7, pp. 410-413, 1953. Stone, David R. "A Sound-Symbol Frequency Count." The Reading Teacher, 19, 7, pp. 498 - 504, I 966. Strothers, C.E.; Jackson, R.W.B.; Minkler, F.W. A Canadian Word List: Grades I - VI. Toronto, The Ryerson Press, I 947. Thorndike, Edward L. The Teacher's Word Book. Columbia University, Bureau of Publications Teachers College, 1921. Thorndike, Edward L. and Lorge, Irving. The Teachers Word Book of 30,000 Words. Columbia University, Bureau of Publications Teachers College, 1944. Twaddell, Freeman. "Linguistics and Language Teachers." in Kenneth Croft (Ed.), pp. 268-276, 1972. 106 Twaddell, Freeman. "Meanings, Habits, and Rules," in Kenneth Croft (Ed.), pp. 15 - 22, 1972. Twaddell, Freeman. "Vocabulary Expansion in the TESOL Classroom," in Kenneth Croft (Ed.), pp. 439-457, 1980. Walker, Chalres Munroe. "High Frequency Word List for Grades 3 thru 9." The Reading Teacher, 4, pp. 803 - 81 I, 1979. Wardhaugh, Ronald. "Theories of Language Acquisition in Relation to Beginning Reading Instruction." Language Learning, 21, I, pp. 1-14, 1971-72. Yorio, Carlos A. "Some Sources of Reading Problems for Foreign - Language Learners." Language Learning, 21, I, pp. 107 - 115, 1971-72. 107 APPENDIX Spache Readability Formula 108' CLARENCE E. STONE'S REVISION OF THE DALE LIST OF 769 EASY WORDS a bath building corner everyth about be bump could eye acrossbear bunny count afraid beautiful bus country face after became busy cover fall afternoon because but cow family again bed butter cried far air bedroom buy cross farm airplane bee buzz crumb farmer all been by cry fast almost before cup fat alone began cabbage cut father along begin cage feather already behind cake dance feed also being calf dark feel always believe call day feet am bell came dear fell an belong can deep felt and beside candy deer fence animal best cap did few another better car dig field answer between care dinner fill any big careful dish find anyone bigger carry do fine anything bill cat does finish apple bird catch dog fire are birthday caught doll first arm bit cent done fish around black chair don't fit arrow blew chick door five as blow chicken down flag ask blue child draw flew asleep board children dress floor at boat circus drink flower ate book Christmas drive fly away both city drop follow automobile bottom clap dry food bow clean dock foot baa bowl climb for baby bow-wow close each found back box clothes ear four bad boy clown early fox bag branch cluck east fresh bake bread coat eat friend baker break cock-a egg frog ball breakfast doodle-do else from balloon bright cold elephant front band bring color end fruit bang brother come engine full bark brought coming enought fun 109 barn brown cook even funny barnyard bug cooky ever basket build corn every game himself left Mrs. peanut garden his leg much peep gate hit let mud pennies gave hold let's music people get hole letter must pet girl home lie my pick give honey light picnic glad hop like nail picture go horn line name pie goat horse lion near piece God hot listen neck pig going house little need pink gold how live nest place *good hunt long new plant good-bye hurry look next play got hurt lost nice please grandfather lot night pocket grandmother 1 loud no point grass ice love noise policeman gray if lunch north pond great I'll made nose pony green in mail not pop grew Indian make note poor ground inside man nothing post grow into many now present guess is march nut press it matter pretty had its may of puff hair me off pull hall jar meat often push hand joke meet oh put happen jump men old puppy happy just meow on hard met once quick has keep mew one quiet hat kept mice only quite have kill might open hay kind mile or rabbit he kitchen milk orange race head kitten milkman other rain hear knew mill our rake heard knock minute out ran heavy know miss outside read held Miss over ready hello lady money own real help laid monkey red hen lamb moo paint rest her land more pan ride here large morning paper right herself last most park ring hid late mother part river hide laught mouse party road high lay mouth pat 110 hill learn move paw robin him leaves Mr. pay rock rode six summer today wear roll skate sun toe wee roof skin sunshine together weed room skip sure told week rooster sky surprise tomorrow well root sled swam too went rope sleep sweet took were round sleepy supper top west row slide swim town wet rub slow swing toy what run small train wheat smell table tree wheel said smile tail trick when same smoke take tried where sand sniff talk trunk which sang snow tall try while sat so tap turkey white save soft teach turn who saw sold teacher turtle why say some teeth two wide school something tell wild sea sometime ten uncle will seat song tent under win see soon than umbrella wind seed sound thank until window seem soup that up wing seen splash the upon winter sell spot their us wish send spring them use with sent squirrel then without set stand there vegetable woman seven star these very wonder shake start they visit wood shall station thin voice woke she stay thing wolf shell step think wagon word sheep stick this wait work shine still those wake world shoe stone though walk worm shop stood thought want would short stop three war write should store threw warm show story throw was yard shut straight ticket wash year sick street tie watch yellow side string tiger water yes sign strong time wave you sing such tired way your sister suit to we sit zoo


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