Theory and Practice in Language Studies, Vol 2, No 6 (2012), 1153-1159, Jun 2012

A Comparison of Productive Vocabulary in Chinese and American Advanced English Learners’ Academic Writings

Xixiang Lou, Guanghui Ma


A comparison has been made of productive vocabulary in some normal university English majors’ theses in China and American final-year undergraduates’ papers. The research demonstrates that with family as the measurement unit, Chinese students proportionally use fewer words of the 1st, 8th to 10th 1000 frequency level words than American students, while in terms of the 2nd to 4th 1000 frequency band words, Chinese students use more than American students and there is no difference in the usage of the words of the rest word lists. In terms of lexical words complexity: American students repeatedly use the 1st 1000 high-frequency words in a higher proportion, use more inflectional forms than Chinese students but use fewer derivational forms than Chinese students. Chinese students use the 2nd 1000 frequency band words repeatedly in a greater proportion than American students; use more inflectional and derivational forms than American students. Chinese students use low-frequency words repeatedly in a greater proportion, more inflectional forms, but use the derivational forms in the same proportion as American students.


productive vocabulary; richness; lexical word complexity



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