◆What the charts tell you
There are two charts at the bottom of the results page. These give three different word counts for the text that you have chosen to process.
1. The top tiers of both charts show the total
number of all words at each level and the total for the text. Percentages
are in parenthesis.
2. The bottom tier of the chart on the left shows the number of types and percentage for each level and for the whole text. This is the number of different words that appear in the text. In other words, a specific word form is counted only once and is not counted again if it is repeated.
3. The bottom tier of the chart on the right shows the number of word families in the text for Levels 1, 2, and 3, but NOT for words in the Outside Levels (words outside the three high frequency levels).
◆ Word frequency levels and word families
Levels 1 and 2 contain the high frequency words of English found in a wide range of written material. It has been estimated that knowing these words would mean knowing roughly 70-80% of the vocabulary on an average page of text. Level 3 (see Acknowledgments for source of the AWL) contains the 800 or so high frequency words occurring in university and secondary level reading material. These words cover from 5-10% of the vocabulary on an average page of text. Words outside Levels 1, 2, and 3 will consist of frequent to low frequency words. Proper nouns will also be included in this group.
The actual number of words and the percentages from these different levels for the text you have chosen are shown at the bottom of the results page. A list of these words appears on the right hand side of the screen. The order of the levels is from Outside Levels (less frequent words), Level 3, Level 2, and Level 1 (most frequent words). The words included in each level are listed in the order they appear in the text.
Levels 1 and 2 contain the most frequent 2,000 words of English as headwords and also their inflected forms and some derivations. Level 3 contains about 800 words frequently found in secondary and university level reading material and is also divided into word families. The words grouped around a headword are called a family. The concept of word family used here comes from the work of L. Bauer and I. S. P. Nation. For details see their article: Word Families, International Journal of Lexicography, 6;3, 1993.
For example, the word accept has this kind of family:
Words in the Outside Levels do not show family groupings
and will appear as one long list. Beginning with Level 3, words are shown
grouped into families. The words to the left side of the column (pink background)
are the headwords for each family. Words to the center (white background)
are the family members. The number on the same line as the headword
is the number of members from that family appearing in the text.
However, the headword itself may not necessarily appear in the text.
The number after a family member is the number of times that particular
word form appears.
When we compare the word counts for totals, types, and families mentioned above, we generally see a decrease in the number at each level. This is due to the "nesting" effect of the different counts. The first level shows the most dramatic drop in numbers simply because these words are the most frequent and the most likely to recur. This level also includes articles, prepositions, conjunctions, and other non-lexical items that recur often in most texts. A large proportion of words in almost any text will come from this first level, underlining the importance of these words for learners.
The Outside Levels list shows totals and types, but there are no counts for families as with Levels 1, 2, and 3. A quick look at this list can provide information on what families could be formed.
Words that might appear in the Outside Levels group will actually come from the majority of words in English but will cover a small proportion of a text. Among these words will be less frequent words to low frequency words, technical terms and proper nouns. Instructors need to make a decision about which of these words are worthwhile teaching depending on learnersﾕ needs and proficiency level. Looked at another way, a word in this list that appears frequently may indicate its importance in the text. However, many of the words may only appear once. We can carry this one step further and say that the more words in this list, the heavier the vocabulary burden for the learner at the beginning and intermediate stages of study.
The first three levels do not contain proper nouns, and
these will appear in the Outside Levels list. Also most hyphenated words
will be counted in the Outside Levels. When a hyphen appears between
a word or letter and a number this combination will also appear as a word
counted in the Outside Levels. Examples would be counter-attack and
F-15. If however, a space occurs between the letter (word) and the
number each would be counted separately.
◆Alterations to the word lists
The original word lists from West and later developed
by Nation, et al. for use with the program called VocabProfile are used
for Levels 1 and 2 on this site. Level 3 is the Academic Word List developed
by Averil Coxhead. Alterations to the headwords were not made except in
a few cases, but a number of alterations to the members of the word families
were made to correct omissions or to simplify the lists. These are
1. Both American and British spellings were added when these were omitted from the original lists.
2. Derived forms were added in order to adhere more closely to the guidelines used for grouping words into families (see Bauer and Nation, 1993). These have not been tested for overall frequency and were added for the sake of consistency.
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Comments or questions can be sent to:
Tokyo International University
1-13-1 Matoba Kita, Kawagoe shi, Japan 350-1197.