2. Outline of the
Definition of Vocabulary
The Importance of Vocabulary
Definition of Testing
The Importance of Testing
Why Do We Test Vocabulary?
Questions for Teachers Preparing
3. Types of Questions in a Vocabulary Test
Examples of Methods for Testing
Other Methods Teachers can Use to Test
Problems Associated with Testing
4. Definition of
The set of words within a language that are
familiar are known as a person’s vocabulary.
Vocabulary develops with age and is a crucial
tool for communicating and acquiring language.
Acquiring an extensive vocabulary is one of the
largest challenges in learning a second
5. The importance of
A large vocabulary helps us to communicate
and express what we mean.
The size of your vocabulary is directly linked
to your reading comprehension.
A person may be judged by others based on
his or her vocabulary.
6. Definition of testing
A procedure for critical evaluation; a means
of determining the presence, quality, or
truth of something.
In terms of human beings, testing tells what
level of knowledge or skill has been
7. The importance
Through a well-crafted test, a teacher can find out:
If the student has understood the course that has been
taught or not.
The students’ strengths and weaknesses.
Tests and examinations are the main motivation for
students to study.
Tests provide a good dose of healthy stress and
anxiety that is good training for challenges to be
overcome in real life.
8. Why do we test
Teachers need to know how developed their
students’ vocabulary knowledge is. (Why?)
Without a basic vocabulary, the potential for
developing a reading problem is great.
Vocabulary knowledge is strongly related to overall
A limited vocabulary represents a limited
understanding of concepts
Well-developed vocabulary skills and wide background
knowledge help individuals comprehend more difficult
and complex material
9. Testing helps to recycle vocabulary as well as to
Testing vocabulary also occurs in placement tests
or diagnostic tests to find out students level of
knowledge or in achievement tests at the end of
the school year
10. Questions for teachers
preparing vocabulary tests
Before preparing a vocabulary test, teachers should ask
themselves the following questions:
How should I test vocabulary?
Which kind of vocabulary should I test?
Which format(s) should I use?
How many items should I include?
How important is context?
Are there any tools or resources that can help me?
11. How should I test
How a teacher intends to test vocabulary
should be connected to how they teach the
Students should not be asked to simply memorize long
Vocabulary words should be presented in context.
When testing vocabulary, avoid testing words in
12. What kind of vocabulary should
In most cases, teachers should test
vocabulary that they expect their students to
know or to use.
Research shows that learners can recognize
more words than they can actually use.
Teachers need to decide between testing
high frequency words or more specialized
13. Teachers should include all the new words
that the students have covered in other
activities (reading, listening, etc.)
Words should be grouped according to
whether their recognition or their
production is required.
14. When creating a vocabulary test, teachers can
determine a student’s knowledge of the
The part of speech of a word.
The relative frequency of a word.
15. Which test format should I
Teachers should take into consideration the following
issues before choosing a test format:
To select only the test formats that students are familiar with.
Do not introduce a new test format in a testing situation.
Practicality & wash back effect should be considered when
choosing a format.
Select formats that will allow easy interpretation of results, not
necessarily easy marking.
The chosen format should have a positive wash back effect.
16. How many items should I
The number of items on a test is related to the concept
of test reliability.
Reliability refers to the degree of consistency of test
In general, the more items on a test, the more reliable it
is considered to be.
As far as vocabulary tests are concerned, Nation (2001)
recommends a minimum of 30 items for a reliable
17. How important is context?
Some test formats are “context-
independent”, they present students with
words in isolation and require them to select
meanings for the words without reference to
any linguistic context.
In “context-dependent” test formats, students
are expected to make use of contextual clues.
18. Noted scholars in the field of vocabulary
(Folse, 2003; Laufer, 1997) have pointed
out the limitations involved with
Although teachers may provide their
students with contextual clues in
tests, they are rarely present in the real
world to the same degree.
19. Are there any tools or
resources that can help me?
There are many tools and resources that can
help a language teacher in evaluating
One recommended resource can be found on
the website Tom Cobb’s Compleat Lexical
The website is divided into three sections:
Tutorial, Research, and Teachers.
20. Types of questions in a
In a vocabulary test, as in most other
tests, there are two kinds or types of
21. Examples of methods for
Multiple choice tests.
This technique is simple to mark but challenging and
difficult to design.
It can be used for testing single words, words in
sentences or in texts.
Teachers should take into account that students may
guess the right answer without actually knowing the word.
There is a 25% chance if there are 4 options.
Students may also choose the correct answer without
really knowing the word through a process of elimination.
22. There may be more than one possible answer among
Teachers should use “distractors” in MCQ tests so
that the answer is not too obvious or easy to pick.
However, some “distractors” are too distracting to
the students, or too close to the correct answer and
will confuse students.
Multiple choice questions can be employed to test a
variety of concepts. For example:
23. Recognize synonyms:
Choose the alternative (a, b, c, d) which is closest in meaning
to the word “gleam”.
a) gather B) shine C) welcome D) clean
a) Dislike intensely
b) Become seriously ill
c) Search carefully
d) Look very angry
24. Thornbury suggested another way of using
Multiple Choice questions which is unusual.
He suggested the use of a contextualized
In it, the options are put directly into a text.
25. Example of his idea:
Someone else is (a) playing; b) calling;
c) singing;) the tune, and for the
moment you re quite happy to go (a)
along; b) around; c) away) with what
seems like a reasonable idea.
Hobbies (a) make; b) use; c) take) up
far too much time and children could
need support with a new activity.
26. Recognize appropriate word for context:
Students must show that they understand
the appropriate word for the context.
It can also be portrayed as a multiple
28. Production items
The testing of vocabulary productivity is so difficult
that it is practically never attempted in proficiency
The main difficulty is the need to limit the candidate
to the (usually one) lexical item that we have in
However, there are still several methods around
29. Using pictures:
The teacher can display pictures of various
objects/people and ask the students to write down
the names of them.
This method is obviously restricted to concrete
nouns that are simple to name.
An example is located in the book (p.182-183)
The teacher writes the definition or meaning of a
particular word and the students must answer with the
This may work for a range of lexical items.
However, not every word can be easily defined, and
sometimes there is more than just one correct
The definition should be clear so that the students
can understand it and come to the correct answer.
A ________ is a person who looks after
___________ is frozen water.
__________ is the second month of the
32. 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.”
33. Too often there is an alternative word to the one
that we had in mind.
This problem can be solved by giving the first letter
of the word and even an indication of the number of
letters in the word.
I r_______ have to tell you…
Or I r_ _ _ _ _ have to tell you…
34. Expressive/ Peabody Vocabulary test:
The teacher shows the student(s) pictures and asks
the student to describe the picture.
The teacher may show the student a picture and ask
the student to give another meaning for a word.
The teacher may ask for the opposite meaning of a
word while showing a picture to students.
The test is quick to administer and can provide valid
results and reliable scoring.
36. Other methods teachers can
use to test vocabulary
Synonyms and antonyms.
37. Problems associated with
Teachers should take into consideration the following
the points when testing their students’ vocabulary:
It is difficult to estimate the size of a student’s
vocabulary. How many words does a student know?
It is often difficult to decide which words should be
included in an exam and which shouldn’t be.
It is difficult to decide what is the criterion for knowing a
Certain tests do not give valid and reliable results.