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CEFR Journal - Research and Practice

Volume: CEFR Journal - Research and Practice Volume 3 (
Date: October 20, 2020
Title: Investigating the difficulties for university learners of English in Japan of CEFR B1-level phrases
Page: 59 - 86
Author: Takeshi Matsuzaki (Meiji University) & Kevin Mark (Meiji University)
This article is open access and licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license.
Abstract: This study examines the variations in difficulty encountered by university learners of English in Japan with regard to English phrases that are classified as CEFR B1 level by the English Vocabulary Profile (EVP). Of the 332 English phrases categorized as B1 level at the time of investigation, 60 were identified as worthy of close examination for this research. An English phrase test was created, comprising two sections: one testing recognition and the other productive ability. Each section consisted of 60 test items embedded within 11 short written passages that were devised to provide context for the items used in this study. The test was administered to 360 university students in Japan, with the recognition section given first and the production section following immediately after. The results obtained show that there was a wide variation in the difficulty measures of the 60 phrases, and that recognition and production showed a discrepancy in terms of level of difficulty. The latter finding suggests that determination of difficulty based on a single processing mode is unlikely to provide an adequate indication of the difficulty of phrases, and that use should therefore be made of measurement instruments that assess both recognition and production ability. Implications for learning and pedagogy and for future directions for this line of research are discussed.

Keywords: English Vocabulary Profile (EVP), B1 level, phrases, difficulty, recognition, production
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(Last update March 6th, 2023 MGS)

This online toolkit is supported by KAKEN Grant-in-Aid project no. 20K00759, no. 19K00808 and no. 16K02835 and aims to support teachers of all foreign languages in Japan in using the CEFR and CEFR/CV efficiently.