Vocabulary in a Second Language

Bogaards, P., Laufer, B. (Eds.). Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2004. Pp. xiv + 233.

Reviewed by Majid Fattahipour
Islamic Azad University
Parand, Iran

Containing eleven chapters which fit into three categories (vocabulary selection, acquisition, and testing), Vocabulary in a Second Language, is a creative collection of papers that provides an overview of the research in the area of second language vocabulary acquisition.
The first section begins with an article by Nation who explores an interesting contrast– vocabulary division of levels rather than coverage–between the General Service List and the Academic Word List and British National Corpus. Cobb and Horst then demonstrate that there is no room for an AWL-like list in French since the French 2000 list fulfils both everyday and academic purposes. Adolphs and Schmitt, in the last article of the section, argue that the predictability variance of lists is not ideal, and, to reach a vocabulary coverage of mid-90% in spoken discourse, we need to address a larger vocabulary in friendship-based than business-based relationships.
The second section opens with Boers, Demecheleer and Eyckman s inquiry into the learning potential of using an etymological elaboration technique with idioms. Mondria and Wiersma then reheat an interesting controversy about the retention of receptive and productive vocabulary, Jiang scrutinizes the role of first language semantic system in learning a second language, and Dewaele investigates the role of personality in acquisition. Qian then goes on to complete the section with an article which examines the lexical inferencing strategies learners employ in acquisition.
The last section of the text focuses on testing. In the first article, Vermeer introduces a new measure of lexical richness based on word difficulty and Greidanus et al. follow by presenting the construction and validation of deep word knowledge test for advanced learners of French. Read closes the section by questioning the adequacy of using depth as an all-encompassing term, preferring instead more specific definitions depending on the instrument used.
Readers will certainly find that the editors of this text indeed present innovative and multiple perspectives and handle a vast array of recent vocabulary related research quite efficiently, yet some may criticize the contributors informative insights from corpus linguistics and their challenge to the tradition of English as a futuristic model. Nevertheless, Vocabulary in a Second Language is a promising resource for researchers, teachers, and teacher trainers. Researchers will value it as they look critically at the findings of the last two decades because, as another reviewer of this text, points out, we all benefit from looking at things in different ways , for “there is much to be gained from bringing together empirical studies and more speculative pieces of work which explore the ramifications of the assumptions that vocabulary researchers tend to take for granted (Maera, 2006, p. 286). Teachers and teacher trainers will also find it useful to help them broaden their views about implementing relevant concepts and tools related to vocabulary selection, acquisition, and testing.

Reference
Meara P. M. (2006). [Review of the book Vocabulary in a Second Language]. System, 34. 284 291.