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Current Perspectives in Second Language Vocabulary Research


Edited By David Hirsh

Reflecting growth in research interest in second language vocabulary over the past 30 years, this edited volume explores the current themes and possible future directions in second language vocabulary research. The collection brings together review papers and quantitative studies, and considers vocabulary in the contexts of teaching, learning and assessment. Key themes explored in the volume include multidimensionality of vocabulary knowledge, the nature of word learnability, the interface between receptive vocabulary knowledge and productive vocabulary use, the partial-to-precise continuum of vocabulary knowledge, conditions favouring vocabulary learning and use, and the use of corpora to develop word lists to inform second language teaching. The themes presented in this volume reflect current thinking and research avenues at the interface between research enquiry and second language teaching practice.


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DAVID HIRSH Vocabulary Research: Current Themes, New Directions 13


DAVID HIRSH Vocabulary Research: Current Themes, New Directions 1. Introduction Prospective research students with an interest in second language vo- cabulary studies frequently ask me for a list of suitable topics as a starting point for developing their own research trajectories. I suggest they refer to a number of texts which have attempted to represent this field of research. These include Nation’s (2001) Learning Vocabulary in Another Language, the introduction to Bogaards and Laufer’s (2004) Vocabulary in a Second Language, Hirsh’s (2010) chapter titled Researching vocabulary appearing in the Continuum Compan- ion to Research Methods in Applied Linguistics and Schmitt’s (2010) Researching Vocabulary. In addition, vocabulary research is regularly published in the leading TESOL and Applied Linguistics journals, with occasional special issues devoted to vocabulary research, and these are useful starting points for research-focused reading. This chapter identifies some of the more prominent current themes in second language vocabulary research, and then moves on to present possible areas for future research, and in doing so brings the reader in touch with some of the key thinkers and their publications in this area of second language research. 14 David Hirsh 2. Current themes One important theme in second language vocabulary research is measurement of second language vocabulary knowledge. This has been driven by recognition of the impact of learner vocabulary size on the quality of language comprehension and use, and by interest in tailoring programs of study to suit the specific needs of groups of lan- guage learners. Vocabulary tests have...

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