Short presentation of EuroComDidact ToGo

The following description is addressed to linguists, language teachers, students of Romance languages and advanced autonomous learners [1].

The app is based on the basic inventory share of the Core Vocabulary of Romance Plurilingualism (CVRP). Generally, it comprises words whose frequency range is below 5000 [2].

Selection of the vocabulary: The CVRP list is compiled from frequency glossaries which collect data from text corpora of millions and millions of word-forms (tokens). It is completed on the basis of traditional basic vocabularies which incorporate entries of obvious pedagogic relevance (classroom, blackboard, chalk; ticket, to go by train, etc.). Often, such words escape from electronically based computation, as frequency and range values are situated beyond defined frequency barriers. That is why both, the CVRP-list as well as the app, link the reliability of corpus linguistic based evidence concerning word frequency, frequency range and spread with intercultural communication relevance-criteria given by pedagogic expertise. It goes without saying that the app benefits from that.

Extension of the app’s series: More than bilingual lexicography, plurilingual dictionary making encounters thorny questions affecting synonymy, homonymy, polymorphy, and the general arbitrariness of the relationship between the word forms and meanings (especially when interlingual assignments are needed). In plain language, there is no unique, clear and always applicable rule for assigning corresponding word forms and significations to various languages. Thus, the CVRP series too sometimes show a certain arbitrariness, as following examples (concerning the semantic nucleuses of ‘deep, below, under, beneath’ and ‘bird’, sorted to French) demonstrate:

Serial variation concering the semantic nucleus ‚below, beneath, under, down‘
Serial variation concerning the equivalents of ‚bird‘

This set of problems provides the first reason why the number of interlingual series must be higher than fixed frequency marks allowing the entry of a word into the CVRP inventory. A second reason derives from the fact that the raw frequency mark concerning a word cannot

be given only once. Thus, in the Français Élémentaire, 22 lemmas share the frequency value of 30 (Gougenheim et al. 1956: 78). A third criterion is a word’s spread. A lemma belonging to the basic vocabulary must be found in numerous texts of different sorts, topics, situations, and registers. A further criterion is its descriptive weight. This affects lingual registers in regard to pedagogical objectives. Is a lemma part of the spoken or the written language? Is it part of both? What kind of register is targeted (standard, colloquial, proximity or formal speech, etc.? The CVRP follows the criteria of the pedagogical frequency lexicography (Davies 2006: 6).

Learning with EuroComDidact ToGo – a strategy fostering plurilingual sensitiveness: Most traditional basic word lists are bilingual. The advantage is that a lemma can easily be linked to the learner’s mother tongue or to another language. So, its meaning can be cleared immediately. More than this, CVRP and EuroComDidact ToGo both can benefit from the advantages of plurilingual disambiguation. How does it work? The microstructure does not exclusively contrast one source and one target language, but six languages. As most users probably are acquainted with English, English equivalents will be registered too and learners with knowledge of German will benefit from German equivalents. And of course, the four Romance target languages can likewise serve as disambiguating languages as well.

The structure of the exercises: The arrangement in series provides the advantage that equivalents appear side by side in the four target languages as well as in English and in a further language. This kind of plurilingual presentation fosters cross-language association building within the series as well as regarding other series. As comparing of words and how they function in different languages is a powerful strategy of vocabulary memorizing, learners will profit from this arrangement to the extent that they pay attention not only to the target word but to its equivalents in other languages too.

Cloze exercise / target language: Italian

The algorithm effecting the individualization of learning: The exercises, supplied by the 9550 series of the CVRP vocabulary, are continuously rearranged. Thus, learners will encounter the target words in various sequences. As the app automatically memorizes the user’s device IP, consecutive sessions are possible that do not repeat tasks which already are solved. At the same time, this individualization allows taking account of ‘wrong’ insertions (not expected by the app’s programming). As a result, users will encounter these series again.

(F.-J. Meißner)


Davies, M. (2006). Frequency Dictionary of Spanish. New York/London: Routledge.
Gougenheim, G./Michéa, R./Rivenc, P./Sauvageot, A. (1956). L’élaboration du français élémentaire.Etude sur l’établissement d’un vocabulaire et d’une grammaire de base. Paris: Didier.

[1] A closer discription about the selection principles is given by Meißner (2016).

[2] The remark seems necessary as frequency marks must be identified for each language. It occurs that the equivalent of a word with a frequency range of <2000 in language A corresponds to a range of >2000 or even > 5000 in language B or C.