Evaluating lexical quality in writing in first and second language learners




Spurling, Jessica

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Research has consistently shown that ESL students lag behind their EL1 peers in English oral vocabulary skills. Despite this lag in English vocabulary skill development and the important role that vocabulary plays in key models of English writing development, recent results indicate that for ESL children becoming both orally proficient and literate in English since kindergarten, their writing achievement is on par with EL1 students. To date, no research has examined the lexical quality of ESL students’ writing across various measures, and in relation to oral vocabulary. This study examines (1) how EL1 and ESL children’s writing compares on different indices of lexical quality, and (2) whether there is an association between oral vocabulary knowledge and lexical quality in the writing of EL1 and ESL children. Results indicate that, in contrast to the differences in their respective levels of oral receptive vocabulary, EL1 and ESL children are using vocabulary of roughly the same quality in their writing. However, results did suggest that there are different patterns of associations between different vocabulary measures based on language group.



ESL, writing, lexical quality, vocabulary