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Analysing lexical richness in French learner language: what frequency lists and teacher judgements can tell us about basic and advanced words1

  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 November 2008

In this paper we study different aspects of lexical richness in narratives of British learners of French. In particular we focus on different ways of measuring lexical sophistication. We compare the power of three different operationalisations of the Advanced Guiraud (AG) (Daller, van Hout and Treffers-Daller, 2003): one based on teacher judgement, one on ‘le français fondamental 1er degré’ and one on frequency of lexical items. The results show that teacher judgement is a highly reliable tool for assessing lexical sophistication. The AG based on teacher judgements is better able to discriminate between the groups than the other operationalisations. It also works better than Vocabprofil (the French version of Laufer and Nation's (1995) Lexical Frequency Profile).

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Françoise Tidball, Department of Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol BS16 1QY e-mail:
Address for correspondence: Jeanine Treffers-Daller, Department of Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol BS16 1QY e-mail:
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We would like to thank Kate Beeching, Jean-Yves Cousquer, Annie Lewis, Gareth Lewis and John Tidball for their help in collecting and/or transcribing the data, the tutors who provided the judgements on the vocabulary items, Brian Richards for his guidance on the reliability analyses of the data and his detailed comments and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable suggestions.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

H. Daller , R. Van Hout and J. Treffers-Daller (2003). Lexical richness in spontaneous speech of bilinguals. Applied Linguistics 24: 197222.

M. Horst and L. Collins (2006). From Faible to strong: how does their vocabulary grow? The Canadian Modern Language Review, 63 (1): 83106.

S. Jarvis (2002). Short texts, best-fitting curves and new measures of lexical diversity. Language Testing, 19: 5784.

B. Laufer (1995). Beyond 2000. A measure of productive lexicon in a second language. In: L. Eubank , L. Selinker and M. Sharwood Smith (eds.). The Current State of Interlanguage. Studies in Honor of William E. Rutherford. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 265272.

B. Laufer and P. Nation (1995). Vocabulary size & use: Lexical richness in L2 written productions. Applied Linguistics 16 (3), 307322.

B. Laufer and T. S. Paribakht (1998). The relationship between active and passive vocabularies: effects of language learning context. Language Learning 48 (3), 365391.

D. D. Malvern , B. J. Richards , N. Chipere and P. Durán (2004). Lexical Diversity and Language Development: Quantification and Assessment. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

McCarthy and Jarvis (2007). VOCD a theoretical and empirical investigation. Language Testing, 24 (4): 459488.

V. Ovtcharov , T. Cobb and R. Halter (2006). La richesse lexicale des productions orales: mesure fiable du niveau de compétence langagière. The Canadian Modern Language ReviewLa revue canadienne des langues vivantes. 63 (1): 107125.

A. Vermeer (2000). Coming to grips with lexical richness in spontaneous speech data. Language Testing 17, 6583.

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Journal of French Language Studies
  • ISSN: 0959-2695
  • EISSN: 1474-0079
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-french-language-studies
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