On the MOE List of 2,000 Common English Words for Elementary and Junior High School Students: Problems and Suggestions
教育部於2008年公布的「國民中小學2,000常用英文字詞表」（以下簡稱「字詞表」）係國民中小學英語教育的重要依據。惟從字彙學習的角度來看，「字詞表」上的字詞無法教、無法學的比比皆是。問題的癥結在於，「字詞表」對於字詞的編列無法反映字詞複雜的本質。常用字詞多為複雜字詞，學習者對於複雜字詞的學習不可能一步到位，而需抽絲剝繭式地循序漸進學習。本研究參考English Vocabulary Profile（EVP）對於字詞的編製理念和作法，對「字詞表」提出改進建議。EVP對於複雜的字詞，依據其詞義分列到一至六個等級中。針對個別字詞，初階學習者會清楚知道應該學習該字詞的哪些詞義，中階和高階學習者亦然，個別字詞的學習因而是長期逐漸累積和加深的過程。反之，「字詞表」中的字詞都僅按字母順序列出，對於複雜的字詞，並無標示其個別詞性或詞義，遑論對個別詞義標示級別。「十二年國教」實施在即，建議「字詞表」依據EVP做相關修訂，俾利國民中小學英語教科書編輯，亦俾利高中英語教科書銜接。
In 2008 the Ministry of Education of Taiwan released its List of 2,000 Common English Words for Elementary and Junior High School Students (hereafter referred to as the Wordlist). Since then, the Wordlist has served as an authoritative guide to the choice of words for elementary and junior high school English textbooks and English test items on the Basic Competence Test for Junior High School Students (now known as the Comprehensive Assessment Program for Junior High School Students). Items on the Wordlist, though of great importance to learners, teachers, teacher trainers, researchers, curriculum developers, materials writers, and exam setters, are unfortunately not all learnable or teachable from a pedagogical perspective. The crux of the problem lies in the way words are structured on the Wordlist, which fails to reflect the complex nature of words, especially those of high frequency. Learning words in a second language is a gradual, long-term, and cumulative process. Common words are often complex, with multiple parts of speech and meanings. Beginning learners should not be expected to learn everything about a high-frequency word when the word is first taught. This study proposes to improve the Wordlist, which is a static listing of words, by following the English Vocabulary Profile (hereafter referred to as the EVP)-an innovative online resource that provides a fully interactive database. On the EVP, a word of multiple parts of speech or meanings is treated as a composite of constituents of six designated levels instead of being treated as a unitary whole with no specified constituents. Beginning learners who use the EVP are clear which part(s) of speech and which meaning(s) of a given word are suitable for them to learn; the same applies to intermediate and advanced learners. This allows learners to acquire complex vocabulary, not all at once, but gradually and cumulatively. In contrast, Wordlist items, whether simple or complex, are merely listed alphabetically from A to Z. No specifications for item part(s) of speech or meaning(s) are provided. For example, lie is merely listed under L, and right under R. This seems to imply that the Wordlist’s target users (elementary and junior high school students, i.e., basic users of English) are expected to know everything about these two words. This is certainly an unreasonable expectation, considering that both lie, which is actually two words, and right, which has five parts of speech with multiple meanings for each, are complex words. But, if target learners of the Wordlist are not expected to know everything about the two words, what meanings and uses of the two words are they expected to know? Users of the Wordlist should not have to deal with such questions. Rather, the responsibility for answering this question rests with the provider of the Wordlist. This paper demonstrates that by referring to the structure of a wordlist entry in the EVP, the Wordlist can make it easier for its target learners to discover exactly which meanings of lie and right they need to know. With the expansion of compulsory education through high school scheduled to begin in 2019, there is an urgent need for a revised version of the Wordlist.
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