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Examining lexical development in second language learners: An approximate replication of Salsbury, Crossley & McNamara (2011)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 November 2017

Scott A. Crossley
Department of Applied Linguistics and ESL, Georgia State University, Atlanta,
Stephen Skalicky
Department of Applied Linguistics and ESL, Georgia State University, Atlanta,


This paper reports on an approximate or partial replication of a study by Salsbury, Crossley & McNamara (2011) that examined the longitudinal developmental of a number of core lexical features related to word imageability, concreteness, familiarity, and meaningfulness in a spoken corpus of English second language (L2) learners. Salsbury et al. found no developmental growth patterns for word familiarity but strong growth patterns for word concreteness, imageability, and meaningfulness as a function of time such that L2 learners began to produce more sophisticated words. Salsbury et al. were the first to formally identify this relation between English proficiency and lexical sophistication, and a large number of studies investigating lexical proficiency have cited this article as a foundational study. There were, however, a number of limitations to the Salsbury et al. (2011) study that make it appropriate for replication. First, the sample size was relatively small (six learners sampled six times over the course of a year). In addition, the study did not control for a number of factors important in L2 acquisition studies (e.g., age, proficiency level, gender) and used a statistical technique that averaged group means and did not properly account for individual participant variation. This replication study addresses these areas and the findings from the replication reflect those reported by Salsbury et al., providing support for the notion that developing L2 lexicons move from the production of words with stronger links to core lexical items to words with weaker links to core lexical items over time. Implications for language learning and teaching are discussed.

Replication Research
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

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