La evaluación del vocabulario en la enseñanza y el aprendizaje del español como segunda lengua

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The principal purpose of this study is to suggest a valid, reliable and practical assessment tool, which can evaluate learners’ vocabulary knowledge in Spanish as a Second Language. Two Vocabulary Levels Tests were designed based on a lexical corpus in order to evaluate students’ receptive and productive vocabulary. The corpus consists of the active vocabulary presented in the first- and second-year textbooks used by the language program at the University of Houston. According to the data obtained from 410 students, although the receptive and productive vocabulary knowledge of students increases as they progress through the levels, the low frequency of high scores indicates the difficulty of these tests for the participants. It is observed that while the low and high beginners differ significantly from each other, these differences are not evident among low and high intermediates. On the other hand, it is noted that the emphasis placed on vocabulary as a component of language learning decreases gradually in the curricula and in the textbooks throughout the first 4 levels, which can account for the gaps, lack of recycling and retention of words studied in the previous levels. Moreover, strong correlations were found between the average of the two tests and students’ final grades. It can be concluded that these vocabulary tests are good indicators of language proficiency in general and can be used as diagnostic tools. This study also presents what kind of learning strategies beginner and intermediate students prefer to use for studying and practicing vocabulary.

The results of the comparative frequency analysis supports the findings of previous studies (Davies & Face, 2006; Godev, 2009) in the sense that the textbooks only partially reflect the vocabulary most frequently used by native speakers of Spanish in “real world” contexts and that these high frequency words are not presented systematically. Finally, pedagogical implications for expanding vocabulary and increasing lexical performance are offered for learners of Spanish as a Second Language.

Vocabulary knowledge, Vocabulary acquisition, Language testing, Spanish language, Second languages, Word frequency, Textbooks