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To what extent do L2 students in UK Higher Education acquire academic and subject-specific vocabulary incidentally?
Moray House School of Education, Edinburgh University.
Chalmers tekniska högskola.
Stockholm University.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8995-4366
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Languages.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5299-8982
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2013 (English)Conference paper, (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Across the UK hundreds of thousands of international students pursue a higher degree through the medium of L2 English, attending the same lectures and reading the same texts as their L1 counterparts.  Although most of these international students will have initially passed through some form of English language proficiency gate-keeping exercise (such as minimum required IELTS scores), little allowance may be made thereafter for possible gaps in necessary vocabulary knowledge. Thus, L2 students may be implicitly assumed either to have sufficient working knowledge of the required vocabulary, or to be able to “pick up” this vocabulary knowledge incidentally during the course of their studies.

This paper explores whether the Academic Word List (AWL) and subject-specific vocabulary knowledge of L2 undergraduates taking a degree in Biology at a UK university is, in fact, comparable to that of their L1 counterparts.  Results from a vocabulary test administered in the third week of Semester 1 of the first year of studies indicated a relatively substantial gap between the levels of vocabulary knowledge of L1 and L2 students. This gap was particularly apparent in knowledge of lower-frequency AWL vocabulary. A post-test was administered 28 weeks later, towards the end of the students’ first year at university. This paper will report on the results of the post-test and discuss to what extent this previously perceived linguistic “gap” between L1 and L2 students may have increased or decreased. The paper will also outline a follow-up investigation into the ways in which L2 students deal with unknown vocabulary encountered during the course of their undergraduate degree studies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013.
Keyword [en]
English as a second language; vocabulary acquisition; second-language vocabulary acquisition; English for academic purposes; English for specific purposes
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
Humanities, English; Humanities, Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-25372OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-25372DiVA: diva2:617045
Conference
BALEAP Biennial Conference, 19-21 April, 2013, Nottingham
Available from: 2013-04-21 Created: 2013-04-21 Last updated: 2017-04-19Bibliographically approved

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Mežek, ŠpelaPecorari, DianeShaw, Philip
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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf