An analytical study of word frequency for pedagogical purposes based on a corpus derived from the business news sections of locally published English language newspapers in Taiwan

  • Lung-Chi Lin

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    University students in Taiwan learn English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and they tend to find reading English language newspapers a formidable task. One of the reasons why the students find it difficult is the extensive vocabulary with which they have to deal when reading English news articles. Reading business news articles becomes more demanding for them on account of the abundant business.

    This research is a corpus-based study with both quantitative and qualitative approaches with the aim of ascertaining the lexical features of business news so as to assist Taiwan’s university students in reading business news articles for better comprehension. For this study, a 1.23 million-word Taiwanese Business News Corpus (TBNC) was created by collecting business news articles from English language newspapers published in Taiwan. This corpus was used to investigate the word frequency of business news genre. Based on the word frequency, other lexical features were also investigated. These features include word type distribution, coverage of the General Service Word List (GSL) and the Academic Word List (AWL) in the corpus, the applications of Zipf’s Law and Powers’ vocabulary prediction theory on the business news genre, and an analysis of the lexical difficulty of articles written by local journalists based in Taiwan and by press agency journalists. The suitability of the vocabulary in Business English textbooks commonly used in Taiwan’s universities was also assessed in this study.

    In light of there being no business news word lists available, two word lists - one general with 2,200 words, the other business-specific with 700 words - were compiled, based on the corpus created for this study. The first word list aims to help students gain a lexical knowledge which can cover 95% of business news text; the second one, narrowed down from the first word list, is a condensed, quick-view word list of business terminology. These two word lists, derived from a business news genre, were created for EFL/ESL students to prioritise. Both lists aim to help students make efficient and effective progress in their comprehension of business news.

    Word frequency is an important aspect of lexical features. It is hoped that the word frequency and two word lists can advance pedagogical applications in ESP business courses in higher education in Taiwan, and potentially in other countries and contexts. In addition, the findings and results of this research can provide insights into English business vocabulary and may serve as a foundation for future systematic research into other important aspects of English.
    Date of AwardJul 2012
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Queen's University Belfast
    SupervisorEugene McKendry (Supervisor) & Eleanor Jarman (Supervisor)

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