Academic Vocabulary

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Academic Vocabulary. Louis Rogers. /. Overview. Defining academic vocabulary The Academic Word List The Academic Keyword List Beyond individual words Vocabulary and reading. Academic vocabulary. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Text of Academic Vocabulary

  • Louis Rogers


  • OverviewDefining academic vocabulary

    The Academic Word List

    The Academic Keyword List

    Beyond individual words

    Vocabulary and reading

  • Academic vocabularyThere is no exact boundary when defining academic language; it falls toward one end of a continuum (defined by formality of tone, complexity of content, and degree of impersonality of stance), with informal, casual, conversational language at the other extreme. (Snow, 2010:450)

    Academic language is the specialized language, both oral and written, of academic settings that facilitates communication and thinking about disciplinary content. (Nagy and Townsend, 2012:91)

  • Academic vocabularyLatin and Greek vocabularyeat/dine, right/correctabstract, analyze, aspect

    Morphologically complex wordsPredisposition

    Nouns, adjectives and prepositions4:1Vs. 1:1

    (Nagy and Townsend, 2012)

  • Academic vocabularyGrammatical metaphor, including nominalizationInformational densityratio of content words to total wordsAbstractnessrespiration

    Just because people who read more can read better doesnt mean that if you read more this will make you read better.

    The correlation between amount of reading and reading ability does not imply a causal relationship(Nagy and Townsend, 2012)

  • The Academic Word List

  • Academic Word ListThe Academic Word List (Coxhead)

    4 discipline areas

    3.5 million word corpus

    570 word families

    Wests 1953 General Service List

  • General Academic Vocabulary

    75% = 2000 most frequent words

    10-15% = academic vocabulary

    10-15% = specialist vocabulary

  • Academic Word ListJobExamine

    Quantitative QualitativeOmissionPersuasion


  • CriticismsMulti-meaning words


    Is one core list possible?

    Moving beyond individual words

    General Service List + AWLAddress, control, meansAddress-issue, control-group, by-means

  • Too general?

    2000 + 570 = 85%

    10% AWL

    75% 2000

  • The Academic Word ListUsed in numerous booksKey to developing the area:

    Coxhead and Hirsh (2007) Science word listWang, Liang and Ge (2008) Medical academic word listWard (2009) Engineering word list

    Brought lexis and further research to the fore

  • Academic Keyword List

  • Collection and purposeMagali Paquot (2010)

    Does not exclude high frequency words

    930 word list

    Includes published academic texts and two student corpora

  • Collection and purpose50% from first 1000 words

    97% from first 2000 + AWL

    37.5% from AWL

    AWL + 2000 = 85% text

    Aimed more at writing than reading

  • CriticismsTransferability Vs. Specificity still in question

    Arguably both needed at different stages

    High frequency necessary

    Single item focus

  • Beyond individual words

  • CollocationsHyland 2008 Electronic EngineeringBiologyBusiness StudiesApplied linguistics

    4 word bundles

    50 most frequentOn the other hand, as well as the, in the case of, at the same time, the results of theHalf on one list only

  • CollocationsFunction of collocationsResearch-orientated = location, procedure, quantification, description, topic

    At the same time, the purpose of, a wide range of, the size of the, the currency board system

    Text-orientated = transition, results, structure, framing

    In addition to the, it was found that, in the next section, with the exception of

  • CollocationsParticipant-orientated = stance, engagementIt is possible that, as can be seen

    DisciplineResearch-orientatedText-orientatedParticipant-orientatedBiology48.1%43.5%8.4%Electrical engineering49.4%40.4%9.2%Applied linguistics31.2%49.5%18.6%Business studies36%48.4%16.6%

  • CollocationHyland and Tse (2007)

    marketing strategylearning strategycoping strategy

    Durrant (2009)Life Sciences, Science and Engineering, Social-Psychological, Social-administrative, Arts and Humanities

    1000 two-word collocations across all 5 areas

  • CollocationThree quarters grammatical

    Reporting pattern verb + thatArgue, assume, conclude, confirm, demonstrate, emphasize, hypothesize, imply, indicate, note, predict, reveal, show, speculate, suggest, suppose

    Frequency and pattern combined

    Transferability of use not investigatedBased on, associate with, note that, defined as, relationship between, effects on, indicate that

  • Students Vs. Published Materials

  • Learner English Vs. native speaker academic English50% of AKL underusedBasis, extent, assume, appropriate21.4% overusedAim, fact, main, also, oftenAmplify high frequency and diminish low onesidea/problemVs. hypothesis/converselyMany high frequency words under usedArgument, significant, particularlyBetween, in, by of = avoidance of noun modification(Paquot, 2010)

  • Learner English Vs. native speaker academic EnglishLack of register awarenessClusters or sequencesFor example, more and more, the problem is thatIn particular, in terms of, a considerable degreeSemantic misuseOn the contraryChains of connective devices(Paquot, 2010)

  • Vocabulary and Reading

  • Skills and strategiesDo they exist? Are they needed?skimming, scanning, predicting

    Used by weak learners to cope

    Used by good learners to enrich meaning

    Critical thinking perhaps only possible if text processing is automatized

  • Poor word recognition > poor comprehension > practice is avoided

    Cunningham and Stanovich (1998)

    Skills develop and word recognition improve

    VocabularyBackground knowledgeComplex structures(Chall, 1983)Impact of accessibility

  • Bulk of growth

    Indirect exposure Vs. direct teaching

    Reading Vs. Oral languageVocabulary growth

  • Reading and Vocabulary

    Printed textsRank of median wordAbstracts of scientific articles4389Newspapers1690Popular magazines1399Adult books1058Comic books867Childrens books627Pre-school books578

  • (Stanovich and Cunningham, 1998)Reading and vocabulary

  • Speech lexically impoverished

    Childrens books considerably rarer than most spoken formsAdult books twice as prolific as speechRare words (outside 10,000) 128/1000 scientific abstracts20-30/1000 in all forms of speechReading and vocabulary

  • How many words do learners need?3000 words (Laufer, 1992)

    10,000 words (Hazenberg and Hulstijn, 1996)

    1000 2000 (Laufer, 2000)

    AWL + 2000 is it enough?

    98% text coverage (Nation)

  • ConclusionSelect list carefully to match aims

    Pitch the level carefully

    Balance skills and language carefully


  • BibliographyAnthony, L. (2011). Products, processes and practitioners: A critical look at the importance of specificity in ESP. Taiwan International ESP Journal. Vol 3:2 1-8Bennett, K. (2009). English academic style manuals: A survey. English for specific purposes. 8 p43-54.Biber, D, Conrad, S and Leech, G. (2002). Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English. Longman: Harlow.Coxhead, A. (2000). A new academic word list. TESOL Quarterly, 34: 213-238.Coxhead, A. (2011). The Academic Word List 10 Years On: Research and Teaching Implications. TESOL Quarterly, 45: 355-361

  • BibliographyDovey, T. (2006). What purposes specifically? Re-thinking purposes and specificity in the context of the new vocationalism, English for Specific Purposes, 25(4), 387-402.Durrant, P. (2009). Investigating the viability of a collocation list for students of English for academic purposes. English for specific purposes. 28 p157-169.Eldridge, J. (2008). No, There Isnt an Academic Vocabulary but TESOL Quarterly, 42: 109 113Hyland, K., & Tse, P. (2007). Is there an Academic Vocabulary?. TESOL Quarterly, 41: 235 253.

  • BibliographyHyland, K. (2008). As can be seen: Lexical bundles and disciplinary variation. English for specific purposes. 27 p4-21.James, M.A. (2009). Far transfer of learning outcomes from an ESL writing course: Can the gap be bridged? English for Specific Purposes. 18 69-84Jordan, R, R. (1998). English for Academic Purposes: A guide and resource book for teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Nagy, W, and Townsend, D. (2012). Words as Tools: Learning Academic Vocabulary as Language Acquisition. Reading Research Quarterly. 47(1). pp91-108.

  • BibliographyPaquot, M. (2010). Academic Vocabulary in Learner Writing: from extraction to analysis. London: Continuum.Ramoroka, B, T. (2012). Teaching Academic Writing for the Disciplines: How far can we be specific in an EAP writing course? English Linguistics Research. 1:2 available at:, C.E. (2010). Academic language and the challenge of reading for learning about science. Science. 450-452.

    Awl job qualitative *Volume science meaningIssue flow out e.g. issue shares only in businessAttribute feature in businessverb to accredit in science

    **Framing = limiting conditions*Engagement = address the reader directly*Social-Psychological education, nursing, psychologySocial-administrative business, economics, politics, law25 million word corpora

    *Draining word recognition takes over efforts that should be placed on comprehension

    Practice is avoided or tolerated without real cognitive involvement

    Other factors such as vocabulary, background knowledge or familiarity with complex structures become the limiting factor*Point 1 Sternberg, Gildea, Pont 2 Hayes, Stanovich*Not surprising students