The relevance of the AWL
The second #EAPchat took place on Twitter on Monday, March 5 revolving around the question: Is the Academic Word List (or other lists) relevant for EAP programs? Mura Nava (@muranava) kindly summarised the chat here, with minor additions made by myself.
Our discussion kicked off by @seburnt posting a link to an article: Hyland, K. and P. Tse, P. (2007) Is There an “Academic Vocabulary”? (http://bit.ly/yzDRKxt) in which Hyland & Tse discuss the relevance of the Academic Word List with regards to EAP programs and relate their findings regarding its shortcomings with regards to discipline-specific contexts in terms of usage and collocation.
@mkofab asked for clarification of what the Academic Word list is and @seburnt gave a link to its entry on Wiktionary (http://t.co/thQFtdMJ) while summarising that Basically it’s a list of words researched as frequently used in academic texts.
There was a consensus that words should be learned in context (such as in collocations) and not as isolated blocks. And so word lists could be useful for teachers to structure their material but not so useful to give to students though @seburnt noted I do think word lists do have value though. The AWL can help Ss recognize or notice common academically used words Editor note: I meant that such word lists at minimum give students a guide as to words to look for in their texts, regardless of how they are used.
The discussion then moved on to talk about how to choose words for a list and various tools were linked to:
- AntConc http://t.co/iKhOvNTD
- Compleat Lexical tutor http://t.co/A6Ccxs1S
- Just the Word http://t.co/pEb7W611
- COCA with http://t.co/LweXO892 interface
- Vocabgrabber http://t.co/pBav33H2
Participants agreed that until such tools get easier to use, teachers will have to rely on their intuitions. And hence word lists have their uses for teachers. @leoselivan added I think applied linguists should be compiling lists of chunks not words.
Moving more into classroom resources, Garnet’s EAS: Vocabulary (along with its supplementary activity site http://t.co/Uv39HHm2) and Pearson’s Focus on Vocabulary was cited as useful . A gap fill activities site for AWL (http://t.co/6jhnAmdv) was also linked to. @leoselivan noted that this and several other AWL practice sites all relied on a lexical chunking knowledge. @seburnt suggested that guessing meaning from context strategies also come into play.
Talk moved onto to ways to help students organise their lexis. Vocabulary profiles as written about here (http://t.co/MwjVttbF), lexical notebooks as detailed in posts by @dalecoulter (Editor note: not directly linked in the chat) and bristol cards (Editor note: i.e. flash cards) were all mentioned. The point made was that students should organise vocabulary beyond the single word and beyond translation.
An Adam Simpson (@yearinthelifeof) post, “How I developed an academic vocabulary syllabus (part one)” (http://t.co/FulX7jli), was suggested as a good example of developing a vocabulary syllabus. In addition, another post, by Tyson Seburn, “Learning vocabulary: receptive or productive goal?” (http://t.co/s0L9g0FV) was mentioned as food for thought.
So how do you feel about the AWL in your EAP curricula?