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Presentation on Vocabulary Learning in Parallel Language Contexts

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European higher education increasingly features a parallel language environment, with instruction in the local language, but textbooks written in English. Although rarely explicitly stated as a learning objective, this situation is widely believed to promote the learning of academic vocabulary both in the L1 and in English. There is, however, reason to question whether parallel learning environments produce the language-learning benefits that are often assumed for them. Investigating such outcomes is the overarching goal of the three-year English Vocabulary Acquisition (EVA) project, an international four-university collaboration. Within that broad objective, one portion of the project is an investigation of the extent to which exposure to English terminology and academic language results from English-language textbooks. The connection between reading and vocabulary learning has been extensively explored. However, much less is known about how students interact with their textbooks. The few existing studies (Taillefer, 2005a, 2005b; Ward, 2001) suggest that student reading practices vary greatly, and that one factor is L1/country of origin. In order, therefore, to understand whether parallel languages promote vocabulary learning, a clearer understanding of what student behavior is needed. This paper will present the results of an investigation into the reading practices of students at three Swedish and one British university. Consideration is given to the students' first language, the language in which reading is assigned, and the effects of reading in a first versus a second language. References Tailleferre, G. (2005). Reading for academic purposes: The literacy practices of british, french and spanish law and economics students as background for study abroad. Journal of Research in Reading, 28(4), 435-451. Tailleferre, G. (205). Foreign-language reading and study abroad: Cross-cultural and cross-linguistic questions. Modern Language Journal, 89(4), 503-528. Ward, J. (2001). EST: Evading scientific text. English for Specific Purposes, 20, 141-152.

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NameBritish Association of Applied Linguistics