A Critical Review of the Word Classification System

Main Article Content

Razieh Gholaminejad

Abstract

In this reflective paper, we review the currently-used word classification system proposed by linguist Paul Nation (2013, 2015) and the position of the academic vocabulary in this system. Different lexical layers in this system are explained as well as the underlying assumptions. Then, taking a critical position, we raise a number of criticisms against three different aspects of Nation’s classification. The first criticism involves the fact that the system has sacrificed function for form in developing the lexical layers. The second focuses on the problem of equating ‘academic words’ with Coxhead’s (2000) Academic Word List (AWL) and ‘high-frequency words’ with West’s (1953) General Service List (GSL). Finally, the system is criticized for the lack of an independent lexical layer for discipline-specific academic vocabulary by ignoring disciplinary variation at the level of academic words. The critical points raised in the paper can be useful for English for Academic Purposes (EAP) materials developers, teachers, test developers, and syllabus/curriculum designers.

Article Details

How to Cite
Gholaminejad, R. (2020). A Critical Review of the Word Classification System . HOW Journal, 27(2), 156-167. https://doi.org/10.19183/how.27.2.554
Section
Reflections and Revision of Themes
Author Biography

Razieh Gholaminejad

Razieh Gholaminejad received her PhD from Shahid Beheshti University and her BA and MA from University of Isfahan. Among her research interests are corpus linguistics, English for specific purposes, and discourse analysis. In addition to publications in national journals, she has published in Routledge and John Benjamins Publishing Company.

References

Brezina, V., & Gablasova, B. (2015). Is there a core general vocabulary? Introducing the new general service list. Applied Linguistics, 36, 1-22.
Cabré, M. (1999). Terminology: Theory, methods, and applications. John Benjamins.
Charles, M. (2013). English for academic purposes. In B. Paltridge & S. Starfield (Eds.), The handbook of English for specific purposes (1st Ed.) (pp. 137-153). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Chen, Q., & Ge, G. C. (2007). A corpus-based lexical study on frequency and distribution of Coxhead’s AWL word families in medical research articles (RAs). English for Specific Purposes, 26, 502-514.
Chung, T. M., & Nation, P. (2003). Technical vocabulary in specialized texts. Reading in a Foreign Language, 15(2), 103-116.
Chung, T., & Nation, I. S. P. (2004). Identifying technical vocabulary. System, 32, 251-263.
Corson, D. (1997). The learning and use of academic English words. Language Learning, 47, 671-718.
Coxhead, A. (2000). A new academic word list. TESOL Quarterly, 34, 213-238.
Coxhead, A., & Nation, I. S. P. (2001). The specialized vocabulary of English for Academic Purposes. In J. Flowerdew & M. Peacock (Eds.), Research perspectives on English for Academic Purposes (pp. 252–267). Cambridge University Press.
Dang, T. N. Y., Coxhead, A., & Webb, S. (2017). The academic spoken word list. Language Learning, 67(4), 959-997.
Gardner, D., & Davies, M. (2014). A new academic vocabulary list. Applied Linguistics, 35(3), 305-327.
Gholaminejad, R. & Anani Sarab, M. R. (2020). The academic vocabulary and collocations used in language teaching and applied linguistics textbooks: a corpus-based approach. Terminology, 26(1), 82-107. https://doi.org/10.1075/term.00043.gho
Gholaminejad, R. (2020a). Academic vocabulary in learner writing: From extraction to analysis. WORD, 66 (1), 62-64.
Gholaminejad, R. (2020b). What do Iranian undergraduate students of social vs. natural sciences say about their language needs? International Journal of Research in English Education, 5(1), 104-115.
Green, C., & Lambert, J. (2018). Advancing disciplinary literacy through English for academic purposes: Discipline-specific wordlists, collocations and word families for eight secondary subjects. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 35, 105-115.
Hirsh, D., & Nation, P. (1992). ‘What vocabulary size is needed to read unsimplified texts for pleasure?’ Reading in a Foreign Language, 8, 689-96.
Hsu, W. (2011). EFL business postgraduates’ source. The Asian ESP journal, 7(4), 63-99.
Hsu, W. (2014). Measuring the vocabulary load of engineering textbooks for EFL undergraduates. English for Specific Purposes, 33, 53-64.
Hyland, K., & Tse, P. (2007). Is there an “academic vocabulary”? TESOL Quarterly, 41(2), 235-253.
Kuehn, P. (1996). Assessment of academic literacy skills: Preparing minority and limited English proficient (LEP) students for post-secondary education. California State University (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED415498).
Lam, J. (2001). A study of semi-technical vocabulary in computer science texts, with special reference to ESP teaching and lexicography (Research reports, Vol. 3). Language Centre, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
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.
Li, Y., & Qian, D. (2010). Profiling the academic word list (AWL) in a financial corpus. System, 38, 402-411.
Liu, J., & Han, L. (2015). A corpus-based environmental academic word list building and its validity test. English for Specific Purposes, 39, 1-11.
Martínez, I. A., Beck, S. C., & Panza, C. B. (2009). Academic vocabulary in agriculture research articles: a corpus-based study. English for Specific Purposes, 28, 183-198.
Mudraya, O. (2006). Engineering English: A lexical frequency instructional model. English for Specific Purposes, 25(2), 235–256.
Nation, I. S. P. (1990). Teaching and Learning Vocabulary. Newbury House.
Nation, I. S. P. (2015). Chapter 33: Which words do you need? In J. R. Taylor (Ed.). Handbook of the Word (pp. 568-581). Oxford University Press.
Nation, P. (2001). Learning vocabulary in another language. Cambridge University Press.
Nation, P. (2013). Learning vocabulary in another language (2nd Ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Paquot, M. (2010). Academic vocabulary in learner writing: From extraction to analysis. Continuum.
Provalis (2016). Prosuite: Wordstat [computer software]. Montreal.
Quero, B., & Coxhead, A. (2018). Using a corpus-based approach to select medical vocabulary for an ESP course: The case for high-frequency vocabulary. In Y. Kırkgöz & K. Dikilitaş (Eds.). Key issues in English for specific purposes in higher education (pp. 51-75). Springer, Cham.
Schmitt, N., & Schmitt, D. (2012). A reassessment of frequency and vocabulary size in L2 vocabulary teaching. Language Teaching, 47(4), 1-20.
Schmitt, N. (2000). Vocabulary in language teaching. Cambridge University Press.
Sutarsyah, C., Nation, P., & Kennedy, G. (1994). How useful is EAP vocabulary for ESP? A corpus-based case study. RELC journal, 25(2), 34-50.
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.
Vongpumivitch, V., Huang, J. Y., & Chang, Y. C. (2009). Frequency analysis of the words in the Academic Word List (AWL) and non-AWL content words in applied linguistics research papers. English for Specific Purposes, 28, 33-41.
Wang, J., Liang, S., & Ge, G. (2008). Establishment of a medical word list. English for Specific Purposes, 27, 442-458.
Ward, J. (2009). A basic engineering English word list for less proficient foundation engineering undergraduates. English for Specific Purposes, 28(3), 170-182.
West, M. (1953). A general service list of English words. Longman.
Yang, M. (2015). A nursing academic word list. English for Specific Purposes, 37, 27-38.