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ネイティヴ・スピーカーの語彙数(2)

米国の言語学者・キンバリー・パウエル氏はたとえば http://www.comeunity.com/disability/speech/guidelines.html の記事で次のように述べています。

3 MONTHS: A baby should become startled at loud noises, soothed by calm, gentle voices, cry, gurgle, and grunt.

6 MONTHS: Baby watches your face when you talk, tries to "talk" to you, coos and squeals for attention.

1 YEAR: The child understands some common words when used with gestures, like "bye, bye", and tries to say words like- "ba ba", "ma, ma."

18 MONTHS: One-year-old children should be able to understand a variety of words and should be using a few single words. The child should be babbling, understanding simple questions/statements such as "where is your nose?, and "give me".

2 YEARS: By age two, words should be combined into two and three-word phrases and sentences, such as "more milk", "all gone", "my turn". The child also understands "where is mommy/daddy?" and simple directions such as, "get your coat". Two year olds understand more words than they can speak. A two-year-old understands approximately 300 words.

3 YEARS: A three-year-old can follow simple directions such as, “time to take a bath,” "tell him your name.” She can also put an object in, under, or on top of a table when asked. She can also answer simple questions about objects such as “which one is bigger?” By age three a child understands approximately 900 words and speaks 200 words clearly.

4 YEARS: A four-year-old can follow two-step directions such as "close the book and give it to me". She also knows her first and last name, can answer reasoning questions such as, "What do we do when we're cold?", and can tell a short story such as, "two kids played ball." Sentences are usually 4 to 5 words long. By four a child is giving directions such as "put my shoes on" and asking many questions. A four-year-old understands 1500-2000 words and can use the following pronouns: he, she, you, me, I, mine.

5 YEARS: A child this age can follow 3 related directions such as "get your crayons, make a picture and give it to the baby". Most letters are pronounced accurately except perhaps for L, R, S, K, TH, CH, SH, TH. A five-year-old can describe objects and events and can tell you the meaning of words. A five-year-old typically understands 2500-2800 words, speaks in 5-8 word sentences, uses 1500-2000 words and tells long stories accurately.

6 YEARS: By this age a child understands 13,000 words, understands opposites, classifies according to form, color and use, and uses all pronouns correctly.

7 YEARS: A child this age can now understand 20,000-26,000 words, understands time intervals and seasons of the year, and is aware of mistakes in other peoples’ speech.

このパウエル氏の記述によると幼児の理解できる語彙の数は次のようになります。

2才: 約300語

3才: 約900語

4才: 約1,500~2,000語

5才: 約2,500から2,800語

6才: 約13,000語

7才: 約20,000~26,000 語

英語のネイティヴ・スピーカーの児童が ― 十分楽しむためには2~3万語前後の語彙が必要な『ハリー・ポッター』  ―  を小学2~3年生から夢中になって読み始める事情がよく分かります。

そして、高校を卒業するころには5~6万語の認識語彙 ( = 「中級学習(英英)辞典」の語彙 ) を習得するに至るわけです (これはあくまでも標準的な話であって高校3年生でも小学3年生程度の語彙力に留まる生徒も実在する)。 

そんなネイティヴ・スピーカーの事情を無視して、せいぜい数千語のしかも極めて断片的な理解にとどまる英語の語彙しかもたない普通の日本人に向かって「多読 (ネイティヴ・スピーカーに比較すればおそろしく少読) をすれば語彙も自然に増える」 などと主張したりそれを信じたりすることは 「日本人の英語のレヴェルを底辺に停滞させる」 最たる原因のひとつになるでしょう。

そんなことをしていたら、いつまでたっても、小学校低学年の語彙レヴェルにも達しません (しかし、それを承知の上でやさしい絵本や読み物を見たり読んだりする分には何の問題もないし趣味としてたいへん楽しいことだとは思います)。

語彙強化は ― 多読・精読と並行してあるいはある期間集中的に ― 別途に実行しなければさしたる効果は望めません ( もちろん多読・精読も必須の営為であることは何度も述べてきたとおりです)。

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