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Why test vocabulary?
It has its own sampling problems

It is hoped that vocabulary learning is taking

If there is little teaching of vocabulary, it may
be argued that there is little call fro
achievement tests of vocabulary.

Writing specifications
How do we specify the vocabulary for an
achievement test?

If vocabulary is consciously being taught, then
presumably all the items thereby presented to
students should be included in the specifications

New items that students have met in other
activities con be added

Words should be grouped in terms of their relative
importance and frequency of use

Words can be grouped according to their frequency
and usefulness

From each of these groups the more frequent and
useful words can be selected.

Writing items
Testing recognition ability
This is one testing problem for which multiple
choice can be recommended
Distractor are usually readily available
There seems unlikely to be any harmful backwash
Guessing the meaning of vocabulary is something
that teachers would probably wish to encourage

Items may involve a number of different
operations on the part of the candidates:

Recognize synonyms
Choose the alternative which is closest in
meaning to the word on the left

Gleam a) gather b) shine c) welcome d)clean
First alternative because of the word glean
The fourth because of the similarity of its sound to
that of gleam

Note: all the options are words that candidates are
expected to know

The items could have a common word as the
stem with four less frequent words as options

Shine a) malm b) gleam c) loam d) snarl

Distractors should not be too
common, otherwise they will
not distract
Recognize definition
Loathe means a) dislike intensely
b) become seriously ill
c) search carefully
d) look very angry
The options are of about the same length
Test-takers who are uncertain of which option
is correct tend to choose the one which is
noticeably different
The difficult word can be one of the option
One word that means to dislike intensely is a) growl
b) screech
c) sneer
d) loathe

Thrasher (Internet) believes that vocabulary is
best tested in context
Bill is someone I loathe
a) like very much
b) dislike intensely
c) respect
d) fear

Recognize appropriate word for context
Context, rather than a definition or a
synonym, can be use to test knowledge of a
lexical item

The strong wind _________the womans efforts to
put up the tent.
a) Disable b) hampered c) deranged d) regaled
Learners and language users in general
normally meet vocabulary in context

Providing context to an item makes the task
more authentic

It helps to activate a
memory of the word

When we test vocabulary by means of
multiple choice, the range of distractors will
be wider of words are presented in isolation

Testing production ability
The main difficulty in testing productive lexical
ability is the need to limit candidates to the
lexical items that teachers have in mind


Each of the objects drawn below has a letter
against it. Write down the manes of the objects:

A ___________
B ___________
C ___________
D ___________
E ___________
F ___________

This method is restricted to concrete nouns
that can be unambiguously drawn
This may work for a range of lexical items
A _________ is a person who looks after our teeth
___________is frozen water
___________is the second month of the year

Not all the words can be defined entire in
words more common than themselves; and
some other can have more than one definition
Gap filling
This can take the form of one or more
sentences with a single word missing
Because of the snow, the football match was
________ until the following week.

I ________ to have to tell this, Mrs. Jones, but you
husband has had an accident
Too often there more than one acceptable
This problem can be salve by giving the first
letter of the word and even the indication of
the number of letters
I r_______ to have to tell you
I r _ _ _ _ _ to have to tell you.