VLI 1(1): Stewart (2012)

A Multiple-Choice Test of Active Vocabulary Knowledge
Jeffrey Stewart
Kyushu Sangyo University
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7820/vli.v01.1.stewart
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Most researchers distinguish between receptive (passive) and productive (active) word knowledge. Most vocabulary tests employed in second language acquisition (SLA), such as the Vocabulary Levels Test (VLT) and Vocabulary Size Test (VST), test receptive knowledge. This is unfortunate, as the multiple-choice format employed on most receptive tests inflates estimates of vocabulary size, and there are clear theoretical advantages to focusing instead on productive knowledge, which is associated with greater strength of knowledge as well as written and oral communication skills. This is in large part due to the logistical problems associated with such tests, as the full-word answers given must either be entered online or handmarked. This paper will describe a multiple-choice format test of active vocabulary knowledge, in which learners confirm their knowledge of an English word by selecting its first letter. As there are 25 possible options, odds of guessing the correct answer by chance are reduced to 0.04. Findings of the study include that word difficulty estimates and scores are highly correlated to those of conventional, full-word active tests (0.90), and that test reliability is higher on the proposed format than on that of a receptive test of the same words.

vocabulary acquisition; productive vocabulary knowledge; language testing.

Stewart, J.(2012). A multiple-choice test of active vocabulary knowledge. Vocabulary Learning and Instruction, 1(1), 53-59. doi: 10.7820/vli.v01.1.stewart