October, 2021 Newsletter

This is the newsletter for October 2021.

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Word Lists for Academic Study
Sheldon Smith
October 2021
Lots of word list related things this month, including a mind map creator for the ACL, information on why word lists are important and how to use them, a detailed summary of the many different lists available, and an infographic categorising word lists.

ACL mind map creator

ACL mind map

I think this tool is a really neat way to explore and learn collocations from the Academic Collocation List. Start typing a word then choose from the auto-complete list and see a mind map of associated words in the ACL.

Why word lists are important (and tips on how to use them)

English is estimated to have 1 million words. However, the most common 10 words in English account for around 25% of language use, the most frequent 100 words for around 50%, while the most frequent 2000 words cover approximately 80% of words in texts.

Among other things, word lists are important in helping students to narrow the focus of what to study, know where to start studying, set vocabulary learning goals, and assess vocabulary knowledge and growth.

The page also includes many tips for how to use word lists, such as by breaking down lists into smaller lists, using a series approach to studying the words, and using hands-on tools such as word list highlighters or vocabulary profilers.

Word lists infographic

word lists

Wow there are a lot of word lists out there! This infographic gives some idea of the number, categorising them according to type: general vs. academic vs. technical, spoken vs. written, including/excluding GSL or AWL words, and so on.

Word lists: a detailed overview

Thought the AWL was all there was? Think again! Not for the faint-hearted, this page takes a broad look at the many different word lists, summarising their development, grouping them according to principles of design, and concluding with a short summary of all the lists.

In short, there is an increasing number of subject-specific academic lists (rather than general lists such as the AWL), and a growing trend for lists to use words and inflected forms (rather than word families like the AWL does). Multi-word lists, while important, are clearly an under-developed area.

New lists

OK, so many of these are not actually new (one exception), but rather, older lists that I did not have information about on the site before. No judgements are made; decide for yourself which are good lists that will be useful for you. Most lists also come with a word list highlighter. Date of list creation is shown so you can see how new/old they are.

  » CSAVL (Computer Science Academic Vocabulary List) (2021): recently published discipline-specific list.

  » SVL (Secondary School Vocabulary Lists (2018): a series of technical lists for 8 secondary school subjects.

  » New-GSL (2013): not to be confused with the other New General Service List, published the same year.

  » CAWL (Chemistry Academic Word List) (2013).

  » Academic Keyword List (AKL) (2010): a list of words chosen for keyness.

  » Science Word List (2007): quite an old list, one of the first subject-specific ones.

YouTube videos: coming soon!

The channel is proving increasingly popular. 5000 subscribers! I haven't added a video in a while (too busy getting my head around different word lists), but as a follow-up to recent work, I plan to make a series of videos on academic vocabulary. You can catch them on the YouTube channel soon.

word lists

Help support the site

Like all creators, I'd love to be able to do this full time. I devote as much time to the website and YouTube channel as I can, though between being a high school Principal, EAP teacher, husband and parent, my free time is limited. If you like what I'm doing, you can consider supporting my work via Patreon, or make a one-time donation.

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EAPFOUNDATION .COM © 2013-present by Sheldon C H Smith. contact@eapfoundation.com



Sheldon Smith

Author: Sheldon Smith    ‖    Last modified: 07 November 2021.

Sheldon Smith is the founder and editor of EAPFoundation.com. He has been teaching English for Academic Purposes since 2004. Find out more about him in the about section and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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