The Academic Word List
(AWL) was developed by Averil Coxhead at the School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies at Victoria University of Wellington
, New Zealand. The list contains 570 semantic fields
which were selected because they appear with great frequency in a broad range of academic texts. The list does not include words that are in the most frequent 2000 words of English (the General Service List
), thus many of the words are specific to academic contexts. However, a significant percentage of the vocabulary contained within the AWL is of general use; it is simply not of high enough frequency to be contained within the General Service List. Words such as area
, and occur
, for example, are in sublist one, yet are words which one could expect to encounter in everyday life, in newspapers, on television, etc. The AWL was primarily made so that it could be used by teachers (especially teachers of English as a Second Language) as part of a programme preparing learners for tertiary level study or used by students working alone to learn the words most needed to study at colleges and universities.