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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The interplay between lexis and learning: a study of second language vocabulary profiles and learning style Add Dissertation
Author: Paul Booth Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Kingston University, PhD
Completed in: 2010
Linguistic Subfield(s): Language Acquisition;
Subject Language(s): English
Director(s): Clarissa Wilks
Francois Nectoux

Abstract: Second language learners tend to follow a predictable pattern when they acquire vocabulary. More common words tend to be acquired before less frequent. However, we find that there is considerable variability within group patterns. Learning style is examined in this study to help understand why lexical variability can be found with seemingly similar learners. The central argument put forward in this thesis is that learning style can help to understand how L2 learners differ in their productive use of lexis.

Learners were tested for memory and analysis and their vocabulary was measured for lexical rarity and diversity via written texts. As the studies unfolded, the unpredictable nature of L2 lexis highlighted the need to take into account both groups and individuals over different points in time. The main findings show that low proficiency learners with good memories correlate to lexical rarity but that there is a more subtle relationship between analytical learners, proficiency and grammar words. Over time, lexical gains beyond the 2,000 frequency level are found with an analytic learning style. Individual lexical trajectories over several points in time highlighted the influence of task topic on lexical rarity but it was not related to lexical diversity. Lexical trajectories also tend to be more variable with memory orientated learners. Overall, lexical diversity is more stable with learners of increasing strengths in analysis. No direct relationship was found between holistic quality ratings of texts and quantitative measures of lexical frequency or diversity.

The results are discussed which lend some support to a Dynamic Systems Theory of SLA (de Bot et al 2007) which highlights the self-organisation of systems on different levels. In particular, an analytical approach to learning encourages stable patterns of lexical diversity which is argued through the recycling of semantically opaque lexis. Lexical production in response to task topic is related to frequency more than any particular learning style. The pedagogical implications of these findings are also discussed and recommendations are made to help learners notice and restructure their language.