Academic Word List (AWL) Program

A Brief Introduction:


Have you ever thought about how important word choice is? Let’s face it; the words we use in our speech and writing reflect who we are and affect how others perceive us.

One of the best ways to create a positive first impression – whether it concerns a new friend or a prospective employer – is to focus on our vocab!

As a result, we will be committing ourselves this year to elevating our speech and writing from “everyday” English to “academic” English. We will accomplish this through the Academic Word List (AWL) program.

Here’s more information about what this all means…

1. These words are useful! You’ll encounter them in multiple subject areas, not just English Language Arts! Plus, these are words used by REAL professionals in a variety of fields (science, health, business, law, etc.). Be on the lookout for our AWL words in your independent reading and everyday life!

2. We are learning these words in context! Our vocabulary study is NOT limited to dictionary definitions and rote memorization. We’ll be creative in our approach – investigating synonyms, drawing pictures, and making personal connections. We’ll have opportunities to practice our words with classmates.

3. Our approach is clear and consistent! You’ll become comfortable with our vocabulary routines very quickly, and these routines will be maintained throughout the year. You’ll know exactly what to expect and how to excel!

4. These words may surprise you! Many words in the English language have more than one meaning. For example, did you know that “sound” is not limited to noise? It also means “logical and correct.” Similarly, “consume” refers to more than just food and beverages; “consume” also means “to buy goods or services.” The definitions we provide for you are the most challenging ones[1], so be sure to review them carefully!

5. Your success with the AWL program is up to you! As you know, the more you put into something, the more you get out. Take advantage of designated class time for completing the Word Study workbook pages for the weekly list and reviewing completed pages for the weekly quiz. Be sure to complete your vocabulary class work/homework on time and to the best of your ability!

At this point, you may be wondering how we hand-picked the specific words for our program; we actually didn’t, which makes this a perfect spot for a good ol’ citation. The AWL is a research-based product (Averil Coxhead, 2000) that aligns with the New York State Common Core Learning Standards. (Try Googling “Academic Word List”: it’s quite popular on the web!)

Please know that the overall aim of AWL is to help with the comprehension of school-based reading material by focusing on words that occur reasonably frequently over a wide range of academic texts and school subjects – from eighth grade to high school and college.

In the long run, studying AWL allows us to approach academic reading with more confidence and more efficiency. Sounds good, right?

We thank you for your commitment to education, and we look forward to learning with you this year! J


[1] You will not be responsible for definitions that are not provided to you. Quizzes will only assess the definitions supplied in the Word Study workbook.

Open the attachment below to see the entire year's worth of word lists. Please note that you are receiving the words one list at a time, in green-colored packets that are formatted differently (to include the various parts of the Word Study Forms).




Click on the link below to take Quizlet practice quizzes on the AWL words:

AWL Quizlets