Date of Award

Summer 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Felicia Roberts

Committee Chair

Felicia Roberts

Committee Member 1

Alejandro Cuza

Committee Member 2

April Ginther


The study examines the relation between the holistic scores of three groups of Chinese ESL speakers and their lexical frequency profiles, based on their monologue responses to testing prompts. The theoretical framework of vocabulary acquisition and word frequency in vocabulary testing are discussed, and several previous studies that use VocabProfile to assess second language vocabulary are analyzed. These serve as the theoretical and methodological basis for conducting the current study, which adopts two schema in VocabProfile to first profile the word frequency in the speakers' monologue responses, and then look into the offlist words that are not captured by the first step. There are three major findings indicated by the results. First, the proportion of words that belong to Academic Word List is higher in the response of learners of higher proficiency. Second, breakdown of the offlist words shows that more proficient learners also demonstrate usage of less frequent words. Third, there is a task effect in the VocabProfile output, which is demonstrated by the consistently different VocabProfile patterns between task types within each proficiency group. The findings indicate that word frequency is an effective yet not comprehensive measure, and that multiple measures are a must to test learners' productive vocabulary and communicative performance.