Exploring the Vocabulary Makeup of Scripted and Unscripted Television Programs and Their Potential for Incidental Vocabulary Learning
Keywords:lexical coverage, television, scripted, unscripted, incidental vocabulary learning
The present study investigated the lexical demands of scripted and unscripted television programs. To that end, two corpora consisting of 286 episodes from 14 different programs, both scripted and unscripted, were analyzed. The results indicated that the 1,000 most frequent word families, plus proper nouns, marginal words, transparent compounds, and acronyms, were required to reach 90% coverage in both scripted and unscripted programs. Furthermore, knowledge of the 2,000 most frequent word families accounted for 95% coverage in the unscripted programs, while, to reach the same threshold in the scripted programs, a vocabulary size of the 3,000 most frequent word families was needed. Regarding 98% coverage, vocabulary knowledge of 4,000 and 6,000 word families was required for the unscripted and scripted programs, respectively. A corpus-driven investigation was also conducted to explore the potential of both types of television programs for incidental vocabulary learning. Accordingly, the results showed that both types of programs may hold relatively great potential for learning words from the 2,000- to 3,000-word levels and might have some potential for the incidental learning of mid-frequency words (i.e., 4,000- to 9,000-word levels). Implications for using both types of television programs in language learning and teaching processes are discussed.