The Available Lexicon: A Tool for Selecting Appropriate Vocabulary to Teach a Foreign Language

Document Type : Original Article


University of Málaga, Spain


This study aims to provide foreign language professionals with a sound methodology for selecting a suitable lexicon apropos of their students’ level in the language. The justification of said selection is, herein, rooted in a cognitive argument: If we are able to observe the manner in which words are organized within the mind, we will be better able to select the words needed for the natural process of communication. After analyzing over lists of lexical availability compiled by previous analyses, this study puts forth a glossary filtered by way of an objective procedure based on the mathematical concept known as Fuzzy Expected Value. I begin first by rigorously defining the concept of lexical availability and then thoroughly examining and explaining the manner in which I have obtained the results. Next, I employ the cognitive theory of prototypes to expound upon the organizational apparatus which arranges words within speakers’ minds. Subsequently, and in accordance with objective criteria, a lexical selection is proposed. To end, I contemplate and muse upon the significance of a program that would enable us to identify the most appropriate vocabulary according to the students’ level of linguistic competence. In order to further substantiate this study, it will be juxtaposed with the specific notions outlined by the curriculum of The Cervantes Institute. Moreover, it will relate to the teaching levels proposed by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).