Assessment and Comparison of Tourism Vocabulary Skills in ESL Learners

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Teaching and learning English for professional purposes largely involves the acquisition of specialised vocabulary, with teaching methodology focusing on the development of understanding and usage of specific vocabulary items. Within the wide variety of professional purposes the language is acquired for, teaching learners of tourism and hospitality also requires a focus on a range of specific language skills, mostly based on understanding of diverse types of discourse and strong communication skills in varied language situations and contexts. English for professional purposes thus becomes more specific - English for Tourism and Hospitality - signalling a slightly different approach to teaching and learning, i.e. not heavily based on acquiring vocabulary skills, but shifting focus on strong communication skills and enhancement of the four elementary language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking.

This paper focuses on assessing and comparing receptive and productive vocabulary skills of learners of English as a Second Language (ESL), with a general hypothesis that learners with greater general language competences do not exhibit major problems in inferencing the meaning of specialised urban tourism vocabulary items.

For this purpose, we selected 10 vocabulary items in context sentences and conducted the Vocabulary Knowledge Scale (VKS) test developed by Wesche and Paribakht (1996) with 1st years students of Tourism and Hospitality and students of Business Economics of the Libertas International University. The results obtained by descriptive statistics, Mann-Whitney U test and Spearman’s rank correlation confirm our general hypothesis.

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