[Rasch] Rasch Digest, Vol 111, Issue 11

Stoeckel, Tim tstoecke at sky.miyazaki-mic.ac.jp
Tue Oct 7 17:36:19 EST 2014

Hi Dan,

When you say "item difficulties for English vocabulary words," are you
referring to English as a *second *or *first *language? I am familiar with
several studies which report Rasch-based word difficulties in an ESL
context, including several I have worked on. Let me know if this is what
you are interested in.

These types of studies typically take samples of words from different
frequency-based word bands, so you would not get comprehensive data for all
of the words in a band. Though there is a general trend for less frequently
occurring words to be more difficult, there is a lot of variation, with
words of identical frequency being of wildly different difficulty.

These studies seem to show that word frequency, though perhaps the most
important factor in determining difficulty, accounts for only 15% or so of
the variance. Other factors like part of speech, concreteness of the word,
and word length also play roles.

It is also interesting to note that in ESL contexts, word difficulty can
vary depending on the first language of the examinees. This is because
factors such as loanword/cognate status or the frequency of certain words
in commonly used English textbooks in a given country can influence word
difficulty. So it is not possible to make statements about the difficulty
of specific words across different ESL learning contexts.


Tim Stoeckel

On Tue, Oct 7, 2014 at 10:00 AM, <rasch-request at acer.edu.au> wrote:

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> Today's Topics:
>    1. Re: Vocabulary word difficulty (Schulz, Matt)
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: "Schulz, Matt" <mschulz at pacificmetrics.com>
> To: "rasch at acer.edu.au" <rasch at acer.edu.au>
> Cc:
> Date: Mon, 6 Oct 2014 04:37:44 +0000
> Subject: Re: [Rasch] Vocabulary word difficulty
> A colleague of mine thought the following links might be useful in
> response to the question below:
> http://textproject.org/research/
> http://www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/resources/academicwordlist/
> *From:* rasch-bounces at acer.edu.au [mailto:rasch-bounces at acer.edu.au] *On
> Behalf Of *Dan Kindlon
> *Sent:* Friday, October 03, 2014 11:33 AM
> *To:* rasch at acer.edu.au
> *Subject:* [Rasch] Vocabulary word difficulty
> I hesitate to ask this mundane question amid the fascinating high-level
> discussion of "Rasching the PISA", but if anyone has information/links/data
> showing item difficulties for English vocabulary words, I would very much
> appreciate hearing about it. Thank you.
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