A study in 2016 found that the average 20-year-old recognises about 42000 words. After that age people typically learn 1 – 2 words each day. 65 year olds have vocabulary levels bigger than university students. Explain and evaluate the research:
Brysbaert et al. (2016) How Many Words Do We Know? Practical Estimates of Vocabulary Size Dependent on Word Definition, the Degree of Language Input and the Participant’s Age http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01116/full
Summary and Notes by Yvonne Gateley
Language experts have always struggled to estimate the size of people’s vocabulary. But now researchers have been dipping into a huge pool of information collected through social media in a bid to settle a piece of the debate.
The psychologists from Ghent University in Belgium found that an average 20-year-old native English-speaking American knows 42,000 dictionary words. Their findings were recently published in Frontiers in Psychology. Continue reading this article… »
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Back in 2012, did a dyslexia assessment on a young man who I shall call John. John was in his second year of sixth form and applying to university to study history. John’s exam grades the previous year were below his predicted ones. As a result of the assessment, John had extra time in his module exams (and subsequenctly went to university!).
John’s reading profile is interesting. He came out above average for word recognition and comprehension (using WIAT-II-UK-T) but his reading speed of 127 words per minute (wpm) is below average for his age. His scores in CTOPP were all average, as was his reading of non-words (TOWRE-2). I concluded that he did not have any significant problems with phonological processing, though he did show some signs of challenge with focus and attention (his speed of writing was also adversely affected by having to think abut what to write, rather than because of any difficulty with manual dexterity).
What was also notable was that John invariably chose to read aloud (to the annoyance of some of his classmates). I was intrigued about why he had got into this habit and volunteered a few hours of support during half term to look into this more.
Between the feedback on the assessment and our support session, John actually decided to go for reading silently and was happy with the result! Issue sorted? Maybe yes, maybe no. I carried on.
I decided to use an experimental method with a pre-test, post-test format, even with just 3 hours of intervention between. Using passages deemed to be A level standard (one from Klein 2003 and one of my own devising, measured to be of similar readability), John read at 153 wpm – already an improvement from reading silently – but his comprehension and recall was limited (I predicted this might be a spin off of not getting the auditory feedback loop to hold attention).
In the post-test, three hours later John achieved a reading speed of 182 wpm,and his recall covered a wider range of the passage… so what did I do in between? What would you have done? Press “read more” after you have had a think!
Continue reading this article… »
When I was writing the concluding chapters of my Ed D thesis, attempting to answer my research questions, I pondered over what counts as a tangible improvement in word recognition skills.
My research attempted to guide the practitioner on how to measure improvement on an individual basis and in comparison to others in the adult literacy context.
The obvious starting point was a standardised test of word recognition, since any changes in performance can be compared with established norms for learners in the same age bands. Adult literacy in the UK has rightly sought to avoid the anomaly of improvements being judged against educational grade designators or reading ages with inappropriate ceiling levels.
Using the WRAT 4 word recognition subtest (Wilkinson and Robertson 2006), in practice, none of my 10 learners made an improvement in score that could be considered as being beyond test error.
A typical confidence interval spans 12 or 13 standard points (for 90% confidence). Taking the example of an adult aged 35 years using the green form subtest (see page 215 of the test manual), this change would represent an additional 11 words read for someone falling within the average range, but only 5 extra words for someone reading at above the mean 100 point score. For an adult of this age it takes a nine word improvement simply to get out of the lowest band (the 0.1st percentile), assuming they can read the alphabet (which accounts for the first 15 points). It would take a massive 35 word improvement to get this learner from this baseline to a score at the lowest point of the “average” band (standard score 84, which represents one standard deviation below the mean and the point used as the criterion for examination boards in the UK to decide whether exam concessions are applicable)
Given the random nature of the word selection in this test (a mixture of phonetically regular and irregular words), short of teaching to the test, we are no clearer in being able to quantify in reality how many extra words of vocabulary a reader has to learn to recognise to show suitable progress, let alone being able to describe what extra word attack skills they need.
Partridge, S.E. (2012) Unravelling reading: Evaluating the effectiveness of strategies used to support adults’ reading skills, (Ed D thesis), Milton Keynes, The Open University.
Wilkinson, G. & Robertson, G. J. (2006) WRAT 4 Wide Range Achievement Test, Professional Manual, Lutz, Florida, Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc.
- The idea of this technique is to encourage fluency and confidence when reading.
- The idea is to stop the disruption to flow caused by a learner struggling to decode words or waiting to be corrected.
- This approach can bring back the pleasure in reading for pleasure.
- Choose a text that the learner is interested in reading (for pleasure or information).
- Although it is best if the text is at a level appropriate to the learner’s assessed needs, this method can be used to assist reading a harder text that the reader urgently needs to access.
- Make sure that you can both see the text comfortably, or have two copies.
- Start reading aloud together.
- Make sure you match your speed to what the learner can cope with so you don’t leave them behind or leave them frustrated.
- Model fluency and good expression.
- If the learner stumbles over a word, keep reading and encourage them to continue without pause. If they lose their place, wait for them to catch up.
- If you sense that the learner is reading confidently and accurately, fade your voice to a quieter volume, but be prepared to fade back in if they falter.
- Warn your learner that you may fade out altogether if they continue to read well.
- With a beginner reader, be prepared to pair read the same text several times so they also gain fluency from repetition and familiarity.
I packed a lot into the second day of the conference and also met up with some old friends – Clare Trott the dyscalculia expert from Loughborough and Desi Madelin, an ADDS graduate from Leicester, who is doing a great job managing learning support at the college there, as well as taking an interest in the research side at this conference. I also encountered people who are really interested in what we do at Dyslexia Positive…
Usha Goswami got us off to an excellent start with a really clear presentation of the latest direction her research is taking. For me it made an obvious link with my interest in dyslexia and music. She is reinforcing the importance of seeing that pre school children are exposed to rhyme and rhythm as a precursor to the ability to perceive and distinguish features of speech sounds. The ability to distinguish features of sounds, particularly at low frequencies is a good predictor of future ability in word recognition and also shows up as impaired in dyslexic children.
I then went into a very exciting workshop on collaboration, curiosity and creativity in Maths teaching, given by the Edghill University team. Their delivery style in the workshop illustrated their point brilliantly as we all got immersed in the activities. A real buzz!
Less exciting was the after lunch keynote speech by Michele Mazzocco from the University of Minesota. She badly lost track of time in explaining her thoughts about the difference between dyscalculia and low ability in Maths, so we didn’t really get onto the salient points. She did, however, remind us to recognise the individual differences in learners who take different paths towards competence in Maths.
I spent the afternoon in a double workshop on IT applications for dyslexia. it was a delivered at a cracking pace, with me struggling to capture all of the great ideas on my new iPad… so many great ideas that I will write more fully about this later…and give you the link to the BDAtech web side where you can get the workshop notes yourself…
Sadly I had to miss Day 3 in favour of singing with Birmingham Bach Choir tonight!
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