Academic Vocabulary Can Make or Mar your Career!


What is Academic Vocabulary?

Academic vocab is different than usual English vocabulary, more like words we use in formal English. These words are used in academic books, journals and for scholarly purpose. For example:

In place of writing 'detail'- academic writing would use 'explains'; Academic vocabulary does not  'tell' but  'inform'

It always justifies, validates, rationalises not just gives reasons.

Academic language uses words like evaluate, illustrate, depict, classify, persuade, contrast, & debate


How many Academic Words are there in Academic List?

There are 57o academic core words which occur repeatedly in all academic texts all over the world. You could be studying anywhere across the world but these words remain same for academic purposes.  

 First lets discover words  mentioned in "Vocabulary Word Lists."

Academic English features specific terms,general terms used differently to explain subjects’ matters because, it involves reading text books,articles, journals, reports and writing reports, essays, dissertation and of course examinations.


Academic English words tend to be more formal in writing but can be informal when used in spoken language, like,

  1. There is no way students can be held responsible for failures of Schools’ Curriculum on language. (Informal)
  2. Students in no way can be held responsible for failure of Schools’ curriculum on language. (Formal)

                                         ***FACT FILE***

  • 90% university students know as low as 600- 700 word families whereas tertiary (university) education requires 3000 high frequency words and 570 words mentioned in Academic Word List.
  • Because of inability to express themselves through appropriate academic language students face undeserved failure.
  • About 80% of academic Word Origins are based on root words from Latin and Greek e.g.hypothesis, analyse are Greek and Latin in nature.
  • Many students who speak well have trouble comprehending academic language the used in the college classrooms. The main barrier to student's comprehension of academic language is lack of academic vocabulary.
  • English language users’ passive vocabulary ( hearing and reading ) is 5 times of their active vocabulary (actual words used in writing or speaking). Students require active vocabulary to self express themselves in assignments and other academic tasks.

Why most ESL learners have poor academic English vocabulary?

It is because students do not know core words they should learn  and on  teachers too expect students to know them already. Whereas students completely rely on teachers to guide them on this matter. So, the result is students fail in their academic pursuits.


I think the greatest work for any English teacher is to introduce his/her students’ to critical role academic words/ lexicon plays in academic tasks/ success and for professional achievements.

Although, vocabulary learning, especially academic language/ vocabulary is a difficult task ( English words are complex like: polysemes, homonyms,  synonyms, homophones, contextual use).


But if you follow theses Vocabulary learning strategies I am certain it will make a huge difference to your vocabulary size and motivation level.

From Academic Vocabulary return to Vocabulary Words

From Academic Vocabulary return to English Vocabualry

Now FREE e-book ACADEMIC WORD LISTS AND HIGH FREQUENCY WORDLISTSRight-click to download the PDF.


FREE E-BOOK-Latin and Greek Word Roots

Now download Right-click to download the PDF.

Oxford English Dictionary publishes new word updates and revised word meanings, on March, June,September and December every year. For instance, in March 2012, it added:
bit bucket n. An An imaginary trash location, example, "it fell into the bit bucket" means the data was lost.

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