Word lists and the role of academic vocabulary use in high stakes speaking assessments
The current study explored the extent to which academic vocabulary lists could meet the lexical demands of academic speaking assessments. Indices of word use from lists of academic and general vocabulary were used to predict speaking scores on three TOEFL tasks. The results found weak associations between list-item use and response scores that varied by task. Independent response scores were associated with the use of specialized vocabulary from the first level of the Academic Spoken Word List. Integrated campus situation response scores were most strongly associated with the use of unique words from the Academic Word List. Integrated academic course response scores were associated with the use of more sophisticated general vocabulary. Although the findings provide some support for the use of academic vocabulary lists in speaking assessment preparation, the weak effect sizes point to the need to develop lists of academic vocabulary specific to academic speaking and assessment.
Keywords: academic vocabulary, vocabulary lists, AWL, academic speaking, TOEFL speaking
Published online: 10 December 2020
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