International Education Journal


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Reflections on Vocabulary Size of Chinese University Students

Du, Hui
China Pharmaceutical University, China


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College English teaching in China aims at developing studentsí communicative competence, in which vocabulary size plays an important role. According to Basic Requirements in the College English Syllabus (1999), Chinese university studentsí vocabulary size should be 4,200 words. From investigation and a study of the research literature, the author finds that the deficiency of College English teaching in China lies in its small vocabulary size due to the very few words that students absorb in each period of English class in both universities and high schools as well as how intensive reading classes are taught in universities. The author argues that vocabulary size has become a hindrance for Chinese university students in both inputting and outputting information in English and that to enlarge Chinese studentsí vocabulary size is therefore critical to the teaching of English in China. The paper concludes with suggestions for dealing with this issue from both a macro and micro point of view.

Vocabulary size, College English teaching, productive and receptive words, reading, university students in China


Du, Hui  (2004) Reflections on Vocabulary Size of Chinese University Students. International Education Journal, 5 (4), 571-581.

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