Acquisition of Classical Origin Words by Chinese, French and Finnish Learners

Simon Smith, N. Keng

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    This comparative study evaluates the vocabulary knowledge of comparable groups of English learners from three L1 backgrounds: French, Finnish, and Mandarin Chinese. An investigation of differences in vocabulary knowledge revealed that vocabulary of Greek or Latin origin is much more likely to be known by French speaking students than words of non Graeco-Latin origin. Finnish students did much better on words of non Graeco-Latin origin, although they still outperformed the French speakers on Graeco-Latin words. The performance of the native Chinese speakers was the worst of the three groups, and there was no significant difference with this group between the two sets of words. The findings have clear implications for the teaching of academic English vocabulary in EAP settings where students share an L1. In mixed L1 settings, instructors may need to take account of variation in vocabulary knowledge among different L1 student groups.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)122-134
    JournalLanguage Education in Asia
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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