Frequency that a word occurs and the chances that it is known is not such a simple thing to understand.jtauber wrote:What you see on that site is a preliminary study I was doing into the relationship between the frequency of a word (just nouns initially) and its likelihood of being known. Which high-frequency words are less likely to be known? Which low-frequency words are more likely to be known? Are there systematic reasons for the outliers? etc.
Consider the adage, "Reading id the best way to acquire vocabulary". For a student in the beginning and lower intermediate stages, close (intensive) reading and rereading is a great way to acquire vocabulary. The words are learnt with the one sense that they have in that passage. As time and experience goes on, reading broadly and quickly (extensive reading) becomes important too, where comparison of context and looking at the different senses (dictionary sub-divisions) of a word begins to give a different perspective on the way that words are known. At some point, the dictionary needs to be given up for a while, so that uncertainty can play a role in the reading as well.
Not all students read the same texts closely in their beginning stages of learning. I think I recall that Galatians was the first book I read through like that, so even now when I read it, I follow the grammar and syntax much more analytically, with greater reference to the English meanings of words (the ideal outcome of the grammar translation method). Another student will have their early experiences in other works. At that level, overall New Testament frequencies are not very relevant - for the student, the limits of their world are the limits of the text set by their teacher and they explore the world very closely and repeatedly. But of course we all grow up in different houses, and its only later that we use our motor skills and coordination dynamically to get around different and new environments.
The variability of readers' experiences with texts in and out of the New Testament will play a part in determining which words they have been exposed to, and the order of reading will determine how those texts were tackled - a text read during (the earlier or later stages of) formal instruction will be "known" differently than a text read many years later for "enjoyment".
The amount of rote learning that a student has done or been required to do makes a difference too. It seems fashionable these days to learn words by frequency, but that is not the only way. Two other ways are to learn all the words used in a passage, and to learn all words in grammatical classes. I have tried all three. When I read Galatians, and later Plato's Symposium, I set about the task of mastering the vocabulary by rote in context - the goal was never fully achieved, but to a great extent it was. My old note books are full of words arranged by grammar (eg. all the New Testament words with verbs of the pattern (ν) αν, or all feminine nouns in ις, εως (arranged alphabetically without regard to frequency). Another way that I would recommend but wasn't able to do at that time for lack of resources, it to memorise (by rote in context) all the words for a particular topic or situation, eg fishing words from all the fishing contexts. That type of learning allows a student to be completely free from the burden of vocabulary and to pay fuller attention to grammar, syntax and other features of the text.
You may need a large sample group of students with adequate background information to be able to make sense of the data that you acquire from the sampling.