ARELE: Annual Review of English Language Education in Japan
Online ISSN : 2432-0412
Print ISSN : 1344-8560
ISSN-L : 1344-8560
University Students' Unknown Words and Their Self-assessed Reading Comprehension Level
Author information

2007 Volume 18 Pages 41-50


This study examined how the number of unfamiliar words university students encounter in the TIME magazine and Cambridge CPE would affect their self-assessed reading comprehension level. It yielded the following three results: first, students' self-assessed comprehension level was in strong inverse proportion to the occurrence ratio of their unknown words. Second, with a vocabulary of approximately 6,000 words, they managed to attain only 54% of comprehension. Third, the occurrence ratio of those words whose meanings students were able to guess to some extent averaged approximately 1% across all the comprehension levels, and was not related to their self-assessed level of comprehension. Thus, the study suggests that in order to read current English without much difficulty, students need a much larger vocabulary, and that their insufficient vocabulary can perhaps be augmented by a well-developed guessing strategy, a problem which has yet to be researched.

Content from these authors
© 2007 The Japan Society of English Language Education
Previous article Next article