Accessibility navigation

Lexical richness of Chinese candidates in the graded oral English examinations

Zhang, J. and Daller, M. (2020) Lexical richness of Chinese candidates in the graded oral English examinations. Applied Linguistics Review, 11 (3). pp. 511-533. ISSN 1868-6311

Text - Published Version
· Please see our End User Agreement before downloading.


It is advisable to refer to the publisher's version if you intend to cite from this work. See Guidance on citing.

To link to this item DOI: 10.1515/applirev-2018-0004


The main purpose of this study is to explore the lexical richness of Chinese candidates of different proficiency levels in a graded examination in spoken English (GESE), which is an exam developed by Trinity College, London and administered in Beijing, China by trained local examiners. We compared 5 lexical indices and the mean length of utterances (MLU) of the GEGE candidates of three proficiency levels. The quantitative results first indicate that lexical richness plays an important role in these oral interviews and there are significant correlations between the lexical indices, the MLU and the proficiency level of the candidates. Furthermore, candidates who pass the oral exams have significantly higher scores for lexical richness. There are significant differences between the lexical richness scores at the Initial level (GESE Grade 2) and at the Elementary level (Grade 5). But only some measures show significant differences between the Elementary level (Grade 5) and the Intermediate level (Grade 7), which casts some doubt on the validity of the classification system. One reason for this result might be the fact that a Grade 7 certificate leads to higher chances in the admissions process for prestigious secondary schools and there is a strong interest by candidates and by private preparatory schools to get a certificate at this level. Some candidates might have enrolled on this level without meeting the criteria fully. Overall, our results show that measures of lexical richness and MLU are good predictors for success in oral interviews, but that factors other than proficiency play a role when it comes to the placement of students in Grade 7. The unique contribution of the present study resides in the fact that we use a large sample drawn randomly from a huge corpus of oral interviews. On this basis, we can gain further insights in the role that vocabulary knowledge plays in oral interviews.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Language and Applied Linguistics
Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM)
ID Code:81737
Publisher:De Gruyter


Downloads per month over past year

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation