Issues related to the presence of Japanese loanwords of English origin on vocabulary size tests

Justin Harris


This paper outlines a small-scale study investigating whether the presence of Japanese loanwords of English origin in a vocabulary size test results in higher test scores for Japanese students. A vocabulary test featuring 20 loanwords and 20 non-loanwords from different frequency levels was administered to 111 students of English in a private university in Japan. Aggregate test scores and a paired samples t-test suggest that students are more likely to answer questions correctly when test items focus on vocabulary used as loanwords in Japanese. The results of a Rasch analysis also suggest that item difficulty is dictated by both word frequency and status as a loanword. The results have positive implications for language teachers in that loanwords can be viewed as a useful pedagogical tool.


loanwords; vocabulary; language testing; English as a lingua franca; Japan

Full Text: