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The ABC of my vocabulary size: New game everyone is talking about is an online Vocabulary Size Test (VST) site that provides simple tools through which individuals can measure their vocabulary size, by choosing from a list of options the meaning that most closely matches 140 different words. The site allows you calculate your vocabulary size by testing your knowledge of 140 words.

The site also provides free service designed to assist teachers and researchers in implementing some of the best practice principles derived from the latest research in second language vocabulary acquisition.

How to calculate your vocabulary size

Although 140 words might seem small, the VST effectively strategically uses these words in estimating ones vocabulary strength.

The VST first arranges words into word families which means that words such as nation, national, nationalise, and international are all considered to be members of the same family. Word families are used to avoid the over-counting that can occur when different forms of a word are given their own entry in a dictionary. They are also more appropriate to use as a unit of counting when dealing with receptive word knowledge. Then the word families are arranged in order of frequency based on the fairly strong relationship between frequency and difficulty. Higher frequency words also tend to have more members in their word family than lower frequency words. Then representative words are sampled from this list at a rate of 1:100. Therefore, each item on the VST represents itself, the members of its word family, and 99 other word families which are roughly equivalent in terms of difficulty and word family size.

So by testing just 140 words, the site can roughly estimate how many unique word families are known, up to a maximum of 14,000 word families. A more expansive test is currently under development to test up to 30,000 word families.

How can teachers and researchers use my vocabulary size

Teachers can use the tests on this site to profile their classes’ vocabulary knowledge. First, they have to register for a teacher’s account. The tests are easy to administer and provide teachers with a summary report of their students’ individual scores. By measuring the average and range of vocabulary sizes of their classes, teachers can adjust their materials and methods to more closely match their students’ needs and abilities.

They can identify which students would benefit from additional vocabulary support or instruction as well as track their progress throughout a program of language instruction to ensure their students’ development.

To collect student scores, teachers must decide which information they need to help them identify results. Typically, teachers collect information such as student ID numbers or names, which then appear in the final test report next to their vocabulary size test results.

Questions to collect this information can be added to the beginning or end of a vocabulary size test and protected with a access code. After adding the questions, the site will create a unique URL which will send students to the customised test. After the tests have been completed, a summary report can be viewed online or downloaded in comma separated values (CSV) format.

Researchers can use the vocabulary tests on this site to pilot and validate novel measures of word knowledge or use the existing tests as a data point in a larger research project. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to take the test. It can be administered as a group in a computer laboratory, individually, or on participants’ home computers. Researchers interested in creating new tests should contact us to discuss their ideas. They will also eventually be able to download population-normed measures of vocabulary difficulty to use as a baseline for other research and anonymised data sets to use in novel statistical analyses.

The site has received a lot of attention as people around the world are testing their vocabulary strenght.

Here is how to play...






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