Vocabulary College and University Education Research-Oriented Presentation

Facilitating English academic vocabulary learning using fictional graded readers

Sat, Jul 9, 14:40-15:05 Asia/Tokyo

Location: F31

Given the importance of learning L2 vocabulary in context (Webb, 2008), academic texts would seem to be the most useful way to support learners’ academic vocabulary learning. However, for teachers using word lists such as Coxhead’s (2000) academic word list (AWL), finding authentic materials with sufficient academic vocabulary range and frequency to support course-related academic vocabulary learning can be a challenge. Against this background, the presenter wrote a fictional graded reader series (‘The AWL Readers’) in an attempt to make English academic vocabulary learning more stimulating and (hopefully) more effective for his students.

The AWL Readers follow the adventures (and misadventures) of a fictional university student and her unusual friend, and include all 570 AWL words (with spaced repetition). One of the goals in creating the AWL Readers was to add to recent research which is rethinking the assumption that academic vocabulary learning should primarily be facilitated through reading academic (rather than fictional) texts (Krashen, 2010; McQuillan, 2020).

This presentation will discuss: (1) how and why the AWL Readers were created; (2) the results of our preliminary study into their effectiveness as a vocabulary learning tool; and (3) their possible usefulness in other teaching and learning contexts.

  • Paul Mathieson

    Paul is an associate professor in the Department of Clinical English at Nara Medical University, where he has been working since 2016. Paul has a law degree and an arts degree from the University of Auckland (New Zealand), and a master’s degree in applied linguistics and TESOL from the University of Leicester (UK). He is currently a PhD candidate at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies. Paul's primary research interests are in second language vocabulary acquisition, content and language integrated learning (CLIL), English for specific purposes (ESP), and learner motivation. When he is not teaching or researching, he can be found jogging or cycling around the Kita-ku area in Osaka, eating out at one of Fukushima’s fabulous restaurants, or rocking with his band ‘The Ballbreakers’ somewhere in Osaka. Paul also loves travelling, and isn’t far away from achieving his goal of visiting all 47 Japanese prefectures (38 so far!).