Volume 169, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0019-0829
  • E-ISSN: 1783-1490
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


A Hard Science Spoken Word List (HSWL) was developed and validated to help second language learners of hard sciences better comprehend academic speech at English-medium universities. It consists of the 1,595 most frequent and wide ranging word families in a 6.5-million running word hard science spoken corpus which represents 12 subjects across two equally-sized sub-corpora. Its coverage in different discourse types indicates that the HSWL truly reflects the language in hard science academic speech. The comparison between the HSWL with Dang, Coxhead, and Webb’s (2017) Academic Spoken Word List shows that the HSWL focuses more on specialized vocabulary in hard science speech. Depending on their vocabulary levels, learners may achieve 93%–96% coverage of hard science academic speech with knowledge of the HSWL words.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Basturkmen, H.
    (2003) Specificity and ESP course design. RELC Journal, 34(1), 48–63. doi: 10.1177/003368820303400104
    https://doi.org/10.1177/003368820303400104 [Google Scholar]
  2. Bauer, L. , & Nation, P.
    (1993) Word families. International Journal of Lexicography, 6(4), 253–279. doi: 10.1093/ijl/6.4.253
    https://doi.org/10.1093/ijl/6.4.253 [Google Scholar]
  3. Becher, T.
    (1989) Academic tribes and territories. Bristol: The Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Becker, A.
    (2016) L2 students’ performance on listening comprehension items targeting local and global information. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 24, 1–13.10.1016/j.jeap.2016.07.004
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jeap.2016.07.004 [Google Scholar]
  5. Biber, D.
    (2006) University language: A corpus-based study of spoken and written registers. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/scl.23
    https://doi.org/10.1075/scl.23 [Google Scholar]
  6. Biber, D. , Reppen, R. , Schnur, E. , & Ghanem, R.
    (2016) On the (non)utility of Juilland’s D to measure lexical dispersion in large corpora. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 21(4), 439–464.10.1075/ijcl.21.4.01bib
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ijcl.21.4.01bib [Google Scholar]
  7. Biglan, A.
    (1973a) Relationships between subject matter characteristics and the structure and output of university departments. Journal of Applied Psychology, 57(3), 204–213. doi: 10.1037/h0034699
    https://doi.org/10.1037/h0034699 [Google Scholar]
  8. (1973b) The characteristics of subject matter in academic areas. Journal of Applied Psychology, (57), 195–203. doi: 10.1037/h0034701
    https://doi.org/10.1037/h0034701 [Google Scholar]
  9. Browne, C. , Culligan, B. , & Phillips, J.
    (n.d.). A new academic word list. Retrieved from www.newacademicwordlist.org/
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Chung, T. M. , & Nation, P.
    (2004) Identifying technical vocabulary. System, 32(2), 251–263. doi: 10.1016/j.system.2003.11.008
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2003.11.008 [Google Scholar]
  11. Coxhead, A.
    (2000) A new academic word list. TESOL Quarterly, 34(2), 213–238. doi: 10.2307/3587951
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3587951 [Google Scholar]
  12. Coxhead, A. , & Hirsh, D.
    (2007) A pilot science word list for EAP. Revue Française de Linguistique Appliqueé, XII, 2, 65–78.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Crossley, S. , Salsbury, T. , & McNamara, D.
    (2010) The development of polysemy and frequency use in English Second Language speakers. Language Learning, 60(3), 573–605. doi: 10.1111/j.1467‑9922.2010.00568.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9922.2010.00568.x [Google Scholar]
  14. Dang, T. N. Y. , Coxhead, A. , & Webb, S.
    (2017) The academic spoken word list. Language Learning, 67(4), 959–997.10.1111/lang.12253
    https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12253 [Google Scholar]
  15. Dang, T. N. Y. , & Webb, S.
    (2014) The lexical profile of academic spoken English. English for Specific Purposes, 33, 66–76. doi: 10.1016/j.esp.2013.08.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esp.2013.08.001 [Google Scholar]
  16. (2016) Making an essential word list. In I. S. P. Nation (Ed.), Making and using word lists for language learning and testing (pp.153–167). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/z.208.15ch15
    https://doi.org/10.1075/z.208.15ch15 [Google Scholar]
  17. Gardner, D.
    (2007) Validating the construct of word in applied corpus-based vocabulary research: A critical survey. Applied Linguistics, 28(2), 241–265. doi: 10.1093/applin/amm010
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amm010 [Google Scholar]
  18. Gardner, D. , & Davies, M.
    (2014) A new academic vocabulary list. Applied Linguistics, 35(3), 305–327. doi: 10.1093/applin/amt015
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amt015 [Google Scholar]
  19. Gries, S. T.
    (2008) Dispersions and adjusted frequencies in corpora. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 13(4), 403–437. doi: 10.1075/ijcl.13.4.02gri
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ijcl.13.4.02gri [Google Scholar]
  20. Heatley, A. , Nation, I. S. P. , & Coxhead, A.
    (2002) Range: A program for the analysis of vocabulary in texts. Retrieved from www.vuw.ac.nz/lals/staff/paul-nation/nation.aspx
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Henriksen, B. , & Danelund, L.
    (2015) Studies of Danish L2 learners’ vocabulary knowledge and the lexical richness of their written production in English. In P. Pietilä , K. Doró , & R. Pipalová (Eds.), Lexical issues in L2 writing (pp.1–27). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Hsu, W.
    (2011) The vocabulary thresholds of business textbooks and business research articles for EFL learners. English for Specific Purposes, 30, 247–257. doi: 10.1016/j.esp.2011.04.005
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esp.2011.04.005 [Google Scholar]
  23. (2013) Bridging the vocabulary gap for EFL medical undergraduates: The establishment of a medical word list. Language Teaching Research, 17(4), 454–484. doi: 10.1177/1362168813494121
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168813494121 [Google Scholar]
  24. (2014) Measuring the vocabulary load of engineering textbooks for EFL undergraduates. English for Specific Purposes, 33, 54–65. doi: 10.1016/j.esp.2013.07.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esp.2013.07.001 [Google Scholar]
  25. Hu, M. , & Nation, I. S. P.
    (2000) Vocabulary density and reading comprehension. Reading in a Foreign Language, 13(1), 403–430.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Hyland, K.
    (2016) General and specific EAP. In K. Hyland & P. Shaw (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of English for Academic Purposes (pp.17–29). London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Hyland, K. , & Tse, P.
    (2007) Is there an “academic vocabulary”?TESOL Quarterly, 41(2), 235–253. doi: 10.1002/j.1545‑7249.2007.tb00058.x
    https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1545-7249.2007.tb00058.x [Google Scholar]
  28. Jones, W. A.
    (2011) Variation among academic disciplines: An update on analytical frameworks and research. The Journal of the Professoriate, 6(1), 9–27.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Juilland, A. G. , & Chang-Rodrigues, E.
    (1964) Frequency dictionary of Spanish words. London: Mouton & Co.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Kobeleva, P. P.
    (2012) Second language listening and unfamiliar proper names: Comprehension barrier?RELC, 43(1), 83–98. doi: 10.1177/0033688212440637
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0033688212440637 [Google Scholar]
  31. Kolb, D. A.
    (1981) Learning styles and disciplinary differences. In A. W. Chickering (Ed.), The modern American college (pp.232–255). San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Laufer, B.
    (1989) What percentage of text lexis is essential for comprehension?In C. Laurén & M. Nordman (Eds.), Special language: From humans thinking to thinking machines (pp.316–323). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Laufer, B. , & Ravenhorst-Kalovski, G. C.
    (2010) Lexical threshold revisited: Lexical text coverage, learners’ vocabulary size and reading comprehension. Reading in a Foreign Language, 22(1), 15–30.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Lei, L. , & Liu, D.
    (2016) A new medical academic word list: A corpus-based study with enhanced methodology. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 22, 42–53.10.1016/j.jeap.2016.01.008
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jeap.2016.01.008 [Google Scholar]
  35. MacDonald, M. , Badger, R. , & White, G.
    (2000) The real thing?: Authenticity and academic listening. English for Specific Purposes, 19(3), 253–267. doi: 10.1016/S0889‑4906(98)00028‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0889-4906(98)00028-3 [Google Scholar]
  36. Matthews, J. , & Cheng, J.
    (2015) Recognition of high frequency words from speech as a predictor of L2 listening comprehension. System, 52, 1–13. doi: 10.1016/j.system.2015.04.015
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2015.04.015 [Google Scholar]
  37. Milton, J.
    (2009) Measuring second language vocabulary acquisition. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Mochizuki, M. , & Aizawa, K.
    (2000) An affix acquisition order for EFL learners: An exploratory study. System, 28(2), 291–304. doi: 10.1016/S0346‑251X(00)00013‑0
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0346-251X(00)00013-0 [Google Scholar]
  39. Mulligan, D. , & Kirkpatrick, A.
    (2000) How much do they understand? Lectures, students and comprehension. Higher Education Research & Development, 19(3), 311–335. doi: 10.1080/758484352
    https://doi.org/10.1080/758484352 [Google Scholar]
  40. Nation, I. S. P.
    (2006) How large a vocabulary is needed for reading and listening?Canadian Modern Language Review, 63(1), 59–82. doi: 10.3138/cmlr.63.1.59
    https://doi.org/10.3138/cmlr.63.1.59 [Google Scholar]
  41. (2007) The four strands. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 1(1), 1–12. doi: 10.2167/illt039.0
    https://doi.org/10.2167/illt039.0 [Google Scholar]
  42. (2012) The BNC/COCA word family lists. Retrieved from www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/about/staff/paul-nation
    [Google Scholar]
  43. (2013) Learning vocabulary in another language (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9781139858656
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139858656 [Google Scholar]
  44. (2016) Making and using word lists for language learning and testing. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/z.208
    https://doi.org/10.1075/z.208 [Google Scholar]
  45. Nation, I. S. P. , & Waring, R.
    (1997) Vocabulary size, text coverage, and word lists. In N. Schmitt & McCarthy, M. (Eds.), Vocabulary: Description, acquisition and pedagogy (pp.6–19). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Nation, I. S. P. , & Webb, S.
    (2011) Researching and analyzing vocabulary. Boston, MA: Heinle, Cengage Learning.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Nation, P. , & Crabbe, D.
    (1991) A survival language learning syllabus for foreign travel. System, 19(3), 191–201. doi: 10.1016/0346‑251X(91)90044‑P
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0346-251X(91)90044-P [Google Scholar]
  48. Nesi, H.
    (2002) An English Spoken Academic Word List. In A. Braasch & C. Povlsen (Eds.), Proceedings of the Tenth EURALEX International Congress (Vol.1, pp.351–358). Copenhagen, Denmark.
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Neumann, R.
    (2001) Disciplinary differences and university teaching. Studies in Higher Education, 26(2), 135–146. doi: 10.1080/03075070120052071
    https://doi.org/10.1080/03075070120052071 [Google Scholar]
  50. Neumann, R. , Parry, S. , & Becher, T.
    (2002) Teaching and learning in their disciplinary contexts: A conceptual analysis. Studies in Higher Education, 27(4), 405–417. doi: 10.1080/0307507022000011525
    https://doi.org/10.1080/0307507022000011525 [Google Scholar]
  51. Nguyen, T. M. H. , & Webb, S.
    (2016) Examining second language receptive knowledge of collocation and factors that affect learning. Language Teaching Research, 1–23.
    [Google Scholar]
  52. Rodgers, M. P. H. , & Webb, S.
    (2011) Narrow viewing: The vocabulary in related television programs. TESOL Quarterly, 45(4), 689–717. doi: 10.5054/tq.2011.268062
    https://doi.org/10.5054/tq.2011.268062 [Google Scholar]
  53. Schmitt, N. , Jiang, X. , & Grabe, W.
    (2011) The percentage of words known in a text and reading comprehension. The Modern Language Journal, 95(1), 26–43. doi: 10.1111/j.1540‑4781.2011.01146.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2011.01146.x [Google Scholar]
  54. Schmitt, N. , & Zimmerman, C. B.
    (2002) Derivative word forms: What do learners know?TESOL Quarterly, 36(2), 145–171. doi: 10.2307/3588328
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3588328 [Google Scholar]
  55. Simpson-Vlach, R. , & Ellis, N. C.
    (2010) An Academic Formulas List: New methods in phraseology research. Applied Linguistics, 31(4), 487–512. doi: 10.1093/applin/amp058
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amp058 [Google Scholar]
  56. Valipouri, L. , & Nassaji, H.
    (2013) A corpus-based study of academic vocabulary in chemistry research articles. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 12(4), 248–263. doi: 10.1016/j.jeap.2013.07.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jeap.2013.07.001 [Google Scholar]
  57. van Zeeland, H. , & Schmitt, N.
    (2013) Lexical coverage in L1 and L2 listening comprehension: The same or different from reading comprehension?Applied Linguistics, 34(4), 457–479. doi: 10.1093/applin/ams074
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/ams074 [Google Scholar]
  58. Wang, J. , Liang, S. , & Ge, G.
    (2008) Establishment of a Medical Academic Word List. English for Specific Purposes, 27(4), 442–458. doi: 10.1016/j.esp.2008.05.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esp.2008.05.003 [Google Scholar]
  59. Ward, J.
    (1999) How large a vocabulary do EAP engineering students need?Reading in a Foreign Language, 12(2), 309–323.
    [Google Scholar]
  60. (2009) A basic engineering English word list for less proficient foundation engineering undergraduates. English for Specific Purposes, 28(3), 170–182. doi: 10.1016/j.esp.2009.04.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esp.2009.04.001 [Google Scholar]
  61. Watson-Todd, R.
    (2017) An opaque engineering word list: Which words should a teacher focus on?English for Specific Purposes, 45, 31–39.10.1016/j.esp.2016.08.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esp.2016.08.003 [Google Scholar]
  62. Webb, S. , & Chang, A. C. -S.
    (2012) Second language vocabulary growth. RELC Journal, 43(1), 113–126. doi: 10.1177/0033688212439367
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0033688212439367 [Google Scholar]
  63. Webb, S. , & Paribakht, T. S.
    (2015) What is the relationship between the lexical profile of test items and performance on a standardized English proficiency test?English for Specific Purposes, 38, 34–43. doi: 10.1016/j.esp.2014.11.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esp.2014.11.001 [Google Scholar]
  64. Webb, S. , & Rodgers, M. P. H.
    (2009a) The lexical coverage of movies. Applied Linguistics, 30(3), 407–427. doi: 10.1093/applin/amp010
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amp010 [Google Scholar]
  65. (2009b) Vocabulary demands of television programs. Language Learning, 59(2), 335–366. doi: 10.1111/j.1467‑9922.2009.00509.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9922.2009.00509.x [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): academic spoken discourse; corpus; hard sciences; vocabulary; word lists
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error