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The Role of Lexical Choice in Elicited Imitation Item Difficulty
C. Ray Graham, Jeremiah McGhee, and Ben Millard
57-72 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of lexical frequency, lexical density, and morphological complexity on responses to elicited imitation items by learners of English as a second language. The instrument consisted of 60 sentences, five sets of twelve sentences each, varying in length from four syllables to 19 syllables. The instrument was administered to 81 adult ESL learners from a variety of native language backgrounds and English proficiency levels. Item difficulty was calculated using IRT analyses and multiple linear regression analysis was used to examine the relative contribution of the three variables mentioned to item difficulty. Results indicate that lexical frequency and lexical density accounted for 8% and 2% respectively of the variance in item difficulty, and that morphological complexity was not a significant predictor in the model.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 2008 Second Language Research Forum: Exploring SLA Perspectives, Positions, and Practices
edited by Matthew T. Prior, Yukiko Watanabe, and Sang-Ki Lee
Table of contents
Printed edition: $270.00