K-5 Word Frequency Dictionary for Chinese L2 Learners

The Word Frequency Dictionary can help to:

  • Predict L2 student’s reading comprehension by grade
  • Provide vocabulary guidelines for textbook writing and reading material selection
  • Inform the development of assessments

The principal goal of the Mandarin Institute-Loyola Marymount University (LMU) Developing Model Chinese Early Literacy Assessments using the K-5 Word Frequency Dictionary is to build the foundation for early Chinese reading instruction by creating levels for Chinese texts and developmentally appropriate reading levels and assessments for students. Reading levels in Chinese currently do not exist and there are no nationally adopted reading assessments by grade level.

Given the lack of assessments, measures and tools to support teachers in selecting grade-level reading materials and texts appropriate in a variety of Chinese programs, the first baseline word frequency dictionary for K-5 Chinese L2 learners has been developed. These leveled lists along with an online searchable database tool can be used to determine text difficulty of a particular literature or informational reading materials/texts. Together, the word lists and searchable database can be used to support teachers in the design of literacy instruction that addresses their students’ reading levels.

One of the challenges that Chinese language teachers face in teaching content vocabulary is that there are very few vocabulary assessments that can inform instruction and measure vocabulary growth because prior to our 2015 Infrastructure grant, high frequency words for Chinese L2 learners were not readily defined nor was there a clear way to identify Tier 1, 2 and 3 vocabulary and thus there are no assessments that directly tie to them. For our 2016 Infrastructure grant we developed a collection of contextualized character and vocabulary recognition assessments and one reading assessment by grade that can more accurately track students’ vocabulary growth across the curriculum aligned to the WFD, ACTFL and content standards and prove reliability of the K-5 Word Frequency Dictionary. Our 2017 Infrastructure award resulted in the development of reading comprehension assessments spanning third to fifth grades across the content areas of Chinese Language Arts, Social Studies and Mathematics that can help inform literacy instruction.

To access the online word frequency dictionary and word lists go to:

www.MandarinInstitute.org/K-5 WFD


Guidelines and Technical Report for the Chinese K-5 WFD and Assessments

Grade 3-5 Chinese Assessments - Reading Comprehension Assessments

Grade 3-5 Chinese Assessment Answer Keys - Reading Comprehension Assessment Answer Keys

Grade K-5 Chinese Assessments - Character, Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension Assessments

Grade K-5 Chinese Assessment Answer Keys - Character, Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension Assessment Answer Keys

Data Collection Guide

Sample Data Collection Spreadsheet

K 0 300 300
1 300 400 700
2 300+400=700 500 1200
3 300+400+500=1200 600 1800
4 300+400+500+600=1800 700 2500
5 300+400+500+600+700=2500 849 3349

Instructional Resource(s): 

  • Student


  • Chinese

Proficiency Level(s): 

  • Novice
  • Intermediate

Material Type(s): 

  • Assessment
  • Instruction

Grade Level(s): 

  • K-2
  • 3-5

TELL Domain(s): 

  • Planning
  • The Learning Experience
  • Learning Tools

STARTALK Principle(s): 

  • Standard-Based Curriculum
  • Target Language