Russian's Most Frequent Words and Implications for Vocabulary Instruction

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Russian Language Journal

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Russian language -- Study and teaching (Higher), Russian language -- Word formation, Russian language -- Vocabulary


This study explores the nature of Russian’s 5000 most frequent words (Liashevskaia and Sharov 2009), since a vocabulary of this size has been associated with learners being able to read at the ACTFL Superior level of proficiency (Hacking and Tschirner 2017). The study analyzes these words from the perspective of learning burden (Sánchez-Gutiérrrez, Miguel, and Olsen 2019) and Russian word formation. To conduct this analysis the researcher created a database of the most frequent 5000 words, which is offered as a digital tool for other researchers and instructors of Russian.

Key findings from the study are: 21% of the first 5000 words are international words; 80% of the words can be clustered into 758 word families; 87 of those word families have 11 or more members.

After analyzing Russian’s most frequent words, the author suggests possible activities for different levels of instruction that can increase students’ abilities to use word formation information in comprehending new words.


© 2021 Russian Language Journal


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