Vocabulary in secondary school texts
Specialised vocabulary in secondary school/Middle School
Secondary school students need to engage with texts in all of their courses of study. Reading textbooks can be particularly demanding in terms of vocabulary load (see Coxhead et al., 2010 and the following). Subject area textbooks are not necessarily written with non-native speakers or non-native readers of English in mind. Furthermore, secondary school students study across a range of subject areas. In the case of New Zealand, there are eight such curriculum areas. In other contexts, where English is a medium of instruction, for example in international schools in Thailand, China or Germany, students could well be studying multiple academic subjects in English and be learning in another foreign language. In these cases, it is important to know more about the specialised vocabulary of English in secondary school subjects, so that teachers and learners can focus on developing lexical knowledge as well as subject knowledge in English. One key feature of texts in secondary schools which is important to consider is whether and how they take on the role of teaching or explicitly explaining specialised vocabulary. These roles could be carried out through glossaries, word lists, explanations in texts such as meanings of words in brackets and highlighting particular lexical items in some way so that the readers’ attention is drawn to them.