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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A word frequency distribution study of language presented to young ESL students Rebane, Kim


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 distribution of words, research in the learning of first and second language, and pedagogical implications of the findings.

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