Academic Word List

The Academic Word List' (AWL) was developed by Averil Coxhead at the School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The list contains 5700 semantic fields which were selected because they appear with great frequency in a broad range of academic texts.

The list does not include words that are in the most frequent 2000 words of English (the General Service List), thus many of the words are specific to academic contexts. However, a significant percentage of the vocabulary contained within the AWL is of general use; it is simply not of high enough frequency to be contained within the General Service List. Words such as area, approach, create, similar, and occur, for example, are in sublist one, yet are words which one could expect to encounter in everyday life, in newspapers, on television, etc. The AWL was primarily made so that it could be used by teachers (especially teachers of English as a Second Language) as part of a programme preparing learners for tertiary level study or used by students working alone to learn the words most needed to study at colleges and universities.

The 570 words are divided into 10 sublists. The sublists are ordered such that the words in the first sublist are the most frequent words and those in the last sublist are the least frequent.

The list is available on the Simple English Wiktionary.

See also


  1. Coxhead, A. (2000). A New Academic Word List. TESOL Quarterly, Vol. 34, No. 2 (Summer, 2000), pp. 213-238 https://www.jstor.org/stable/3587951
  2. Hyland, K., & Tse, P. (June 2007). Is there an "Academic Vocabulary"? TESOL Quarterly, Volume 41, Number 2, pp. 235-253.
  3. Hancioglu, N., Neufeld, S., & Eldridge, J. (2008). Through the looking glass and into the land of lexico-grammar. English for Specific Purposes 27/4, 459-479 doi:10.1016/j.esp.2008.08.001

External links

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