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Longitudinal Measurements and Developmental Patterns of Receptive Vocabulary Size: A Study of Japanese University EFL Students (JLTA Best Paper of the Year)


The purposes of this study are (1) to longitudinally investigate the percentages of Japanese university English majors who make (a) good progress, (b) little progress, and (c) negative progress in vocabulary learning during specific years in their university studies; and (2) to describe the longitudinal developmental patterns of the students' vocabulary sizes during their first two years of university. At the beginning of their freshman year (1st year), sophomore year (2nd year), and junior year (3rd year), 109 university students took one of the three parallel forms of Mochizuki's (1998) Vocabulary Size Test (VST). The tests were always administered in April, when the academic year begins in Japan. By comparing the standard errors of difference (SEdiffs) across years, the author examined the progress of students in each year to investigate what percentage of the participants had made good progress, little progress, or negative progress in vocabulary learning. The author also sought to identify developmental patterns in the first half (i.e., the first two years) of students' time at the university. The results showed that 38.5% of the participants made good progress, 51.4% little progress, and 10.1% negative progress in their vocabulary size during their freshman year. These numbers were 57.8%, 26.6%, and 15.6%, respectively, for the sophomore year. Nine longitudinal developmental patterns were found. The most frequent pattern (31.2%) is Type (→↑), in which students made no progress as freshmen but successfully increased their vocabulary size as sophomores. The other patterns are also described in detail. The study revealed that even English majors did not always increase their vocabulary size in the course of one year.


  • JLTA Journal

    JLTA Journal 15 (0), 43-57, 2012

    Japan Language Testing Association


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