Lexical Testing and the Reliability of the Modified Vocabulary Knowledge Scale

Debbita Tan, Ambigapathy Pandian, Paramaswari Jaganathan


This paper highlights some of the vocabulary tests available, and reports the reliability of the modified Vocabulary Knowledge Scale (VKS) (Rosszell, 2007). Although there is no consensus as to what actually constitutes vocabulary knowledge, the notion that it is made up of receptive knowledge (words recognised or known when seen or heard) and productive knowledge (words appropriately used when we write or speak) is widely accepted. Lexical testing is important for various reasons, chiefly to determine reading ability which requires the use of a size test, and to monitor overall vocabulary development which necessitates the use of a test measuring both receptive and productive knowledge (for instance, the modified VKS). The modified VKS was pilot-tested on 28 university-level Malaysian remedial English language learners and analysed for ‘reliability as stability over similar samples’. Data analyses returned values indicating the test to be reliable, thus presenting it as a feasible option for use among similar cohorts. This is of significance to scholars, researchers, language instructors and curriculum designers intending to employ the test in their own research, classrooms and literacy programmes.

Keywords: lexical testing, receptive and productive vocabulary knowledge, modified Vocabulary Knowledge Scale, reliability, tertiary learners 

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