Vocabulary Essay

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Trisha Poole KAIST Language Center The Academic Word List: a corpus-based word list for academic purposes Averil Coxhead (Wellington, New Zealand) The Academic Word List (AWL) (Coxhead, 1998) was developed from a corpus of approximately 3,500,000 running words of written academic text by examining the range, frequency and uniformity of occurrence of words outside the first 2,000 words of English (West, 1953). This corpus contains four disciplines (arts, commerce, law and science) and each discipline is made up of seven subject areas. The 570 word families in the AWL account for approximately 10% of the total words (tokens) in the corpus described above. In contrast, the list covers only 1.4% of the total words in an equally-sized collection of fiction. This difference in coverage indicates that the list is predominantly academic in nature. The AWL provides useful information about which words give the best return for learning for students with academic goals, and highlights the words which learners will meet in a wide range of academic texts. The list also provides a useful basis for further research into the nature of academic vocabulary. The division of this word list into smaller, frequency-based sublists helps in the sequencing of teaching and materials, so that a systematic approach to vocabulary learning can be taken. Bibliography Bauer, L. and Nation, I. S. P. (1993). “Word families.” International Journal of Lexicography 6, 4: 253-279. Biber, D. (1993) “Representativeness in corpus design.” Literary and Linguistic Computing 8,4: 243-257. Biber, D., Conrad, S. and Reppen, R. (1998) Corpus Linguistics: Investigating Language Structure and Use. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Campion, M. and Elley, W. (1971). An Academic Vocabulary List. Wellington: New Zealand Council for Educational Research. Coxhead, A.J. (1998). An Academic Word List. English

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