UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Vocabulary load of beginning readers authorized for British Columbia schools, 1872 to 1977 Patterson, Joyce Isobel


Identifies and compares three dimensions of the vocabulary load of the nine readers and reader series prescribed for beginning reading in the Province of British Columbia since 1872. The dimensions explored were: number of running words; number of new words introduced; and average number and range of repetitions. Periods of prescription were designated by the first year of prescription, namely: 1872, 1884, 1901, 1915, 1923, 1935, 1948, 1964, and 1968. (The 1964 and 1968 materials are currently both authorized by the Ministry of Education.) Tabulations were made for each dimension in each time period. The number of running words in each time period was 3,495, 1,468, 2,540, 2,021, 7,252, 12,766, 20,577, 23,177, and 7,531 respectively. The number of new words introduced in each time period was 392, 367, 405, 447, 633, 601, 341, 500, and 860 in each case. The average number of repetitions found in a sample of the first 500 words in each time period was, respectively: 6.1, 5.3, 3.3, 3.0, 5.8, 6.3, 22.7, 14.2, and 4.6. The range of repetitions in the same 500-word sample was as follows in each case: 1-43, 1-75, 1-34, 1-31, 1-55, 1-38, 5-60, 1-54, and 1-38. The method did not account for repetitions of words having similar patterns, an aspect of the vocabulary system observed in the 1872, 1923, and 1968 materials. Concludes that the differences between the early time periods and the recent time periods of 1935, 1948, and 1964 are related to the use of vocabulary control which provides for the introduction of a limited number of new words and their systematic repetition. Recommends (1) investigation of methods of determining vocabulary load of beginning readers that gives weight to word patterns; (2) content analysis of related teachers manuals and other documents to ascertain teaching methods; and (3) content analysis of the readers to determine attitudes expressed. Appendix describes procedures in identifying and verifying the periods of prescription and the prescribed readers.

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