Chris Banister

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This study explored the extent of use of Coxhead’s (2000) Academic Word List (AWL) by teachers of academic English. The attitudes and beliefs which inform teacher use were also investigated. The research comprised a self-administered online survey which gathered 193 responses from practitioners, supplemented by a small number of follow-up interviews. The survey found that the AWL is widely-used by teachers of academic English, both as a guide for course and materials design and as an instrument recommended for self-study use. English teachers adopt and adapt the list for use with their learners because they believe that it provides a principled basis to focus on general purposes academic vocabulary which is relevant to many learners. The survey confirms that the influence of the AWL as an inspiration for the creation of subject-specific lists is matched by a similar level of popularity amongst practitioners. However, teachers also expressed a number of important criticism s and misgivings with reference to the AWL, in particular concerns about misuse and misappropriation. This study can  inform the production and design of future word lists, providing as it does a revealing snapshot of the ways teachers incorporate word lists into pedagogy. Moreover, the survey findings provide an example for researchers of the interplay of teacher beliefs, attitudes and pedagogic practice in the area of L2 vocabulary teaching.

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