Chemistry - Pre-university, undergraduate and postgraduate vocabulary

Vocabulary and English for Specific Purposes Research - Averil Coxhead 2018

Pre-university, undergraduate and postgraduate vocabulary

Using a corpus of four million words containing 1185 research articles in Chemistry, Valipouri and Nassaji (2013) focused on developing a Chemistry-based word list for foreign language learners in the field. The corpus had four main subject areas: Analytical, Organic, Inorganic and Physical/Theoretical chemistry. The process of developing the Chemistry list included a corpus analysis using selection principles such as frequency and a focus on content words (which meant abbreviations were excluded from the list). A qualitative analysis of the corpus data was carried out using Chung and Nation’s (2003) rating scale (see Chapter 2) to help judge the level of technicality of the items from the corpus because Valipouri and Nassaji (2013, p. 252) wanted to exclude items that were too technical in nature. That is, words such hydroxyl and octahedral were eliminated because they were specific to a particular area of Chemistry and not common to all four areas of the corpus. This step also involved judgements of lexical technicality by three Chemistry professors. A total of 145 items were eliminated through this step in the process. The resulting Chemistry Academic Word List (CAWL) contained 1400 academic word families and covered 81.18% of the corpus. Here are the ten most frequent words in the CAWL list: use, show, react, result, solve, spectrum, can, form, temperature and high. These words occurred over 9,000 times each in the corpus.