EFL Vocabulary Growth in Intensive Language Study

Ozturk M.

JOURNAL OF LANGUAGE TEACHING AND LEARNING, vol.8, no.2, pp.80-88, 2018 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 8 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index, Communication & Mass Media Index, MLA - Modern Language Association Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.80-88


Investigations into typical vocabulary growth rates of EFL (English as a Foreign Language) learners are important to the setting of more realistic targets as well as to the evaluation of the success of language programs. Previous research into second language vocabulary growth was conducted in settings which were not particularly conducive to substantial vocabulary growth. They involved either explicit but limited language instruction as part of a school curriculum or indirect incidental learning through degree study in English. The present study investigates the vocabulary growth of EFL learners in a setting which is expected to induce more growth owing to a greater amount of explicit language instruction. The growth in the written receptive (i. e. reading) vocabulary sizes of 410 EFL learners in an intensive language program in a major Turkish university was studied over one academic year. Vocabulary sizes of learners from a range of English language proficiency levels were measured using the Vocabulary Size Test (Nation and Beglar, 2007). The results suggested greater annual growth than those reported in previous research. The study also indicated that vocabulary growth rates were not stable across proficiency levels, and showed a fall-rise pattern. However, when proficiency was determined lexically, the results suggested that growth slowed down as the vocabulary size increased. These results point to the limitations of explicit instruction in more advanced levels of proficiency as far as vocabulary learning is concerned. Universities are advised to evaluate cost against benefits before implementing these programmes. (c) Association of Applied Linguistics. All rights reserved