Published In

Modern Language Journal

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2023


Lexical sophistication, Lexical frequency profile, Derivational morphology


This study explores the lexical profile of essays written by 48 advanced learners of second language (L2) Russian who participated in the Russian Overseas Flagship, an intensive year-long study abroad program, designed to help students reach Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) Level 3 proficiency in all skills. Using the lexical frequency profile (LFP) and P–Lex as measures of vocabulary sophistication, the study found that over the 9 months of the program, students significantly increased their usage of words from the lowest frequency bands. This adds to the findings of Hacking and Tschirner (2017) that knowledge of lexical items at the 3,000–5,000 frequency levels predicts reading proficiency at the ACTFL Advanced High-Superior level in Russian. However, the increase of vocabulary sophistication was not clearly correlated with improvements in the students' writing proficiency scores, as measured on the ILR scale. A qualitative analysis of the students' low frequency vocabulary usage reveals their control of native Russian vocabulary and derivational morphology. The analyses reveal the effects of writing tasks on student vocabulary usage.


Copyright (2023) the authors


This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in The Modern Language Journal.. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in The Modern Language Journal, 2023.



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