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A STUDY ON VOCABULARY GAP BASED ON THE ACADEMIC WORD

LIST(AWL) COMPILED BY AVERIL COXHEAD AT THE UNIVERSITY OF


WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND

TABLE OF CONTENT
NO CONTENT PAGE

1. TABLE OF CONTENT 2

2. INTRODUCTION 3&4

3. PROBLEM STATEMENT 4

4. OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY 4

5. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY 5

6. LIMITATION OF THE STUDY 5

7. PREVIOUS STUDY 5&6

8. METHODOLOGY 6

9. REFERENCES 7

1.0 INTRODUCTION
English language learning is mostly taught formally in the classroom, based on the
Malaysian education system. To become good in English language we must first learn
English vocabulary first because to use a language we must know the meaning of language.
Vocabulary knowledge involves more than knowing word definitions or that the car is red. It
is also about knowing how to find the meanings of unknown words and phrases, and
understand shades of word meaning. It also creates better reading comprehension and the
ability to engage, produce and talk about texts. Thus, we need to emphasize on learning
English vocabulary. Vocabulary development has an impact on their reading comprehension
and academic success as they get older (Chall, Jacobs, & Baldwin 1990).

The use of English vocabulary has become more significant and demanding in higher
learning institutions. The English language is used as the principal language in education.
Most public and private universities are using English whether in the curriculum or as the
medium of instruction. In 2000, the Malaysian Ministry of Education introduced the
Malaysian University English Tests (MUET) with the objective of enhancing the English
language ability of pre-university students. This was followed by the implementation of the
teaching of science and mathematics in English in secondary schools in 2003 with the
objective of enhancing the English proficiency of students when they enter universities or the
job markets.

Vocabulary is a vital building block to success in study and life. In order to


communicate across the curriculum, a student must be able to build and retain word
knowledge and develop strategies that help them access complex text. In order to support
student success with robust and cohesive instruction that ultimately results in college and
career readiness, educators must be able to connect the various standards that students need to
master. Students who know more words and can also use them in the right context have a
significant advantage in school and can continue using that skill to their advantage in college
and career.

The AWL is a list of words which appear with high frequency in English-language
academic texts. The list was compiled by Averil Coxhead at the Victoria University of
Wellington, New Zealand. The list contains 570 word families and is divided into 10 sublists.
Sublist 1 consists of the 60 most common words in the AWL. Sublist 2 contains the next
most frequently used words and so on. Each sublist contains 60 word families, except for
sublist 10, which contains 30. Research has shown that the AWL covers 10% of words in
academic texts; if you are familiar with words in the GSL (which covers around 80% of
words in texts), you would have knowledge of approximately 90% of words in academic
texts. 

You will need to know this academic vocabulary if you want to study in an English-
speaking college or university. In fact, because these words are so common, they are even
useful to those who do not plan to go on to post-secondary study in English. These are words
that you will frequently see in newspapers, magazines, and novels, and hear on television,
movies or in conversation.

2.0 PROBLEM STATEMENT


Too many students struggling with communicating and understanding the basic vocabulary in
the Faculty of Engineering in UITM. The following research questions have prompted the
researchers to conduct the study on the level of vocabulary gap among engineering students
in UiTM.

1) What are the reasons for the vocabulary gap faced by students?

2) What is the strategy used by students when encountering unfamiliar words from
AWL?

3) Is there a relationship between household income and vocabulary gap?

3.0 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY


The purpose of this study is to investigate student’s vocabulary gap among Semester 1
Degree in Civil Engineering students in UiTM Selangor. This study suggests several research
objectives to be attained as follows:

1) To find out the factors that lead to the vocabulary gap faced by students.
(let them choose the probable factors. And rationalise our choices why we choose
it)
2) To identify the strategies used to improve student’s vocabulary using the AWL sub
list.
3) To determine the effect of household income on students vocabulary gap.
4.0 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study would prove to be beneficial towards the Faculty of Civil Engineering of UiTM in
general towards student vocabulary in the English language. The findings would provide the
common cause or reason that leads to vocabulary gap faced by students of semester one from
the Faculty of Civil Engineering it warrants us the level of understanding and highlighted us
with the importance of the language towards the learning process of each student in their day
to day activity. These would enable the faculty to determine the requirements needed for
them to understand certain words to fully understand the subject presented in class.
Moreover, students can be exposed to the strategy provided by Academic Word Language
(AWL) when encountering an unfamiliar word. This would expose them toward words or
terms that are seldom used. Thus, enabling them to increase their word library. Furthermore,
these studies can determine the relationship between household income and the vocabulary
gap.

5.0 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY


There are several limitations in this study. The result from our questionnaires of the level of
vocabulary gap among engineering students do not portray their actual vocabulary ability
because the number of our questions is quite small even though we are using word list from
Academic Word List (AWL) which is useful, in terms of text coverage and general
frequency, for engineers in all sub disciplines. The sample sizes are also small so the result
cannot be generalized to all engineering students in UiTM.

6.0 PREVIOUS STUDY


Beck and McKeown's have divided vocabulary into three groups. Tier I words are
simple scaffolding words, which are often learned through conversation, according to their
method, and do not require much explicit instruction. These are common nouns and verbs
such as chair, boy, and running. Words of Tier II are interdisciplinary bridge words that occur
throughout the academic curriculum and can appear in many ways. These are words that are
subordinate, plentiful, and important. Tier III words are subject-specific phrases that are
typically only used in one sense and have one meaning. Hypotenuse, amoeba, and isthmus
are good examples (Beck and McKeown’s, 2017). A recent study by sociologist Sean F.
Reardon at Stanford University indicates that the difference has expanded by 40% since the
1960s. The study examined the difference in academic performance among students in the
ninetieth percentile of family income.

The study who was attended by a total of 63 graduate students studying at Khon Kaen
University (2 campuses). Participants were enrolled in at least one English course at the time
of data collection Their ages ranged from 18 to 22 years. They were selected based on
convenience and availability through the purposeful sampling process. To explore how the
participants handled vocabulary learning problems, the main method of data collection was
one-to - one semi-structured interviews conducted in Thai. Before the actual data collection
stage, the interview questions were pilot with the students studying at Khon Kaen University
to check whether or not the questions worked correctly or whether there was anything wrong
with the wording, question sequences, timing, etc. (Intaraprasert, 2000). Based on the study,
the 37 individual emergence strategies to deal with vocabulary learning problem. The
objectives of the learning strategies to discover the meaning of word, retaining the newly
learned words in long term.

7.0 METHODOLOGY

This study will be conducted at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Shah Alam. The target
response for this study is 30 students of taking Bachelor in Faculty of Civil Engineering in
first semester. To conduct the study we have prepare a test to evaluate the vocabulary mastery
of the students through Google Form. The questionnaire were picked from the Academic
Word List exercise in order to test the vocabulary level of the students. We also have collect
background detail of the students in order to evaluate the possible reason for the vocabulary
gap among students. The study will be conducted in present time.
References

1) Journal from Scholastic. Learn how at scholastic.com/edtech


Closing the Vocabulary Gap

Retrieved from https://www.languagemagazine.com/closing-the-vocabulary-gap/

2) Maryam eslahcar Komachali. M.A. in TEFL, Islamic Azad University-Tonekabon Branch,


Iran
Mohammadreza Khodareza. Ph.D. in TEFL, Islamic Azad University-Tonekabon Branch,
Iran
The Effect of Using Vocabulary Flash Card on Iranian Pre-University Students’ Vocabulary
Knowledge

Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1066881

3) Jeremy Ward. English for Specific Purposes, Volume 28, Issue 3, July 2009, Pages
170-182
A basic engineering English word list for less proficient foundation engineering
undergraduates

Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889490609000246

4) Ratchanok Saengpakdeejit. Faculty of Liberal arts, Khon Kaen University, Nong


Khai Campus, Nong Khai, Thailand.
Strategies for Dealing with Vocabulary Learning Problems by Thai University
Students

Retrieved from
www.thaiscience.info/Journals/Article/SUIJ/10969025.pdf+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=my