Learning the AWL Online

JALTCALLTalkThe Academic Word List (AWL) contains 570 word families that are probably the most important words for learners to acquire after the top 2,000 words of the General Service List (GSL). Many online resources exist for teaching the AWL, but some of them have serious pedagogical problems. They present words out of context, or the context contains words that are more difficult and less frequent that AWL words.

This presentation introduces a free website (KeyVocab.com) that presents the AWL words in quizzes and in the context of well-written and easy to parse sentences. More importantly, all the context words for the target words come primarily from the GSL top 1,000 words and secondarily from the GSL top 2,000 words. That is, all the context words are easier than the target AWL words.

The AWL words are presented in the form of short and fun quizzes of 30 words each, and learners can easily take one quiz in about 10-15 minutes. When a quiz is completed, learners can note unknown words for future review. The quizzes also contain a hint function, which can be turned on and off for each question. Currently hints are provided in Japanese, and other languages are under development, including Korean, Spanish, and Chinese.

In addition to the short quizzes, the site also provides vocabulary learning tips and short instructional videos to help learners acquire the most important academic words in a cost free, efficient, and effective way.