The authors wish to thank Paul Nation, Victoria University of Wellington, for his helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article, and the anonymous reviewers, for their useful comments.
Vocabulary Demands of Television Programs
Article first published online: 8 MAY 2009
© 2009 Language Learning Research Club, University of Michigan
Volume 59, Issue 2, pages 335–366, June 2009
How to Cite
Webb, S. and Rodgers, M. P. H. (2009), Vocabulary Demands of Television Programs. Language Learning, 59: 335–366. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9922.2009.00509.x
- Issue published online: 8 MAY 2009
- Article first published online: 8 MAY 2009
- Revised version accepted 26 May 2008
- coverage of text;
- listening comprehension;
- incidental vocabulary learning;
- corpus studies;
- vocabulary frequency
This study investigated vocabulary coverage and the number of encounters of low-frequency vocabulary in television programs. Eighty-eight television programs consisting of 264,384 running words were categorized according to genre. Television shows were classified as either British or American and then put into the following genres: news, drama, situation comedy, older programs, children's programs, and science fiction. The results showed that knowledge of the most frequent 3,000 word families plus proper nouns and marginal words provided 95.45% coverage, and knowledge of the most frequent 7,000 word families plus proper nouns and marginal words provided 98.27% coverage. The vocabulary size necessary to gain 95% coverage of the different genres ranged from 2,000 to 4,000 word families plus proper nouns and marginal words; 5,000 to 9,000 word families plus proper nouns and marginal words to gain 98% coverage. The analysis also indicated that there was great variation in coverage between episodes. The results showed that there were relatively few encounters with low-frequency vocabulary. However, if learners knew the most frequent 3,000 word families and they watched at least an hour of television a day, there is the potential for significant incidental vocabulary learning.