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Home Journal Index 2023-2

Theoretical Exploration of the Lexical Availability Task as a Tool for the Selection of Vocabulary to be Taught in Class

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Leah Geoghegan

Universidad de la Rioja, Spain


María Pilar Agustín Llach

Universidad de la Rioja, Spain



Since its conception in the 1950s, the Lexical Availability Task (LAT) has steadily gained prominence as an assessment tool in language teaching and learning, perhaps due to the fact that it not only provides a useful indication of the lexical resources which are available to learners, but it also obtains this rich set of data in a rather economical way (Jiménez Catalán & Fitzpatrick, 2014). The LAT requires participants to write as many words as come to mind in response to a specific stimulus or cue-word within a time limit of 2 minutes. The responses obtained provide a lexical corpus of available words for that cue-word or centre of interest. While previous research has highlighted the value of using lexical availability (LA) as a tool for selecting target foreign language vocabulary (Ávila Muñoz, 2017), this article argues that this tool should not be used in isolation, but rather should be implemented appropriately alongside a number of other factors in order to best determine target vocabulary. A theoretical exploration of the LAT as a tool for the selection of vocabulary to be taught in class is thus provided, taking into consideration a number of key factors: the most readily available words in each field of natives of the age group, other similar groups, words from the school context, equivalent words of highly available words from L1 and the teaching context. Suggestions are made for incorporating LA as a tool for vocabulary selection in classrooms.



Lexical availability, lexical frequency, usefulness, difficulty, vocabulary lists