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Exploring Vocabulary

Language in Action

Routledge Introductions to Applied Linguistics is a series of introductory level textbooks covering the core topics in Applied Linguistics, primarily designed for those beginning postgraduate studies, or taking an introductory MA course as well as advanced undergraduates. Titles in the series are also ideal for language professionals returning to academic study.

The books take an innovative 'practice to theory' approach, with a 'back-to-front' structure. This leads the reader from real-world problems and issues, through a discussion of intervention and how to engage with these concerns, before finally relating these practical issues to theoretical foundations. Additional features include tasks with commentaries, a glossary of key terms, and an annotated further reading section.

Vocabulary is the foundation of language and language learning and as such, knowledge of how to facilitate learners’ vocabulary growth is an indispensable teaching skill and curricular component. Exploring Vocabulary is designed to raise teachers’ and students’ awareness of the interplay between the linguistic, psychological, and instructional aspects of vocabulary acquisition. It focuses on meeting the specific vocabulary needs of English language learners in whatever instructional contexts they may be in, with a special emphasis on addressing the high-stakes needs of learners in academic settings and the workplace.

Dee Gardner also introduces a new Common Core Vocabulary, constructed from two of the most well-known and contemporary corpora of English—the British National Corpus and the Corpus of Contemporary American English.

Exploring Vocabulary is an essential book for undergraduate and postgraduate students studying vocabulary within Applied Linguistics, TESOL, or Teacher Education, as well as any teacher working with English language learners.

Book Information

Complimentary Exam Copy

Exploring Exploring Vocabulary Cover


Common Core Vocabulary

The Common Core List on Lextutor:

The Common Core List has another powerful application on Lextutor (Cobb, 2013). Users can enter or download any text into the Lextutor engine and receive instant results on the coverage of the CCL sublists in that text, including Cobb’s now famous color-coding of the output.  To use the Common Core List, choose “BNC-COCA Core-4” on the “Schemes” selection tab at the following URL:


Cobb, T. (2013). The Compleat Lexical Tutor. Available at www.lextutor.ca.   

Common Core Sublists: 

These four sublists represent the highest frequency shared vocabulary in two contemporary corpora of English—the British National Corpus (BNC) and the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA).  The sublists are ranked by overall coverage impact from A (most impact) to C (least impact).  Sublist A is divided into function words and content words.  Sublists B and C contain content words only.  The sublists are presented in word-family groupings based on Nation’s BNC word-family categorizations (see Nation, 2004). 

Download Common Core Sublists

Nation, P. (2004). A study of the most frequent word families in the British National Corpus. In P. Bogaards & B. Laufer (Eds.), Vocabulary in a second language: Selection, acquisition, and testing (pp. 3-13). Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 

Common Core for Range Program: 

These lists contain the same word-family data as described above for the Common Core Sublists, but they are formatted to be used with the Range vocabulary program (see Heatley, Nation, & Coxhead, 2002).  The file name basewrd1, basewrd2, basewrd3, and basewrd4 make the lists compatible for use with the Range program, and they correspond to the Common Core Sublist A (Function Words), Common Core Sublist A (Content Words), Common Core Sublist B, and Common Core Sublist C respectively.  Note that in order to use these lists with the Range program, the user will need to replace the lists that come with the program with these new lists and set the Number of Baseword Files prompt to 4 (default is 3).  The Range program, along with instructions for using new baseword files can be downloaded at http://www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/staff/paul-nation.aspx .

Download Common Core for Range Program

Heatley, A., Nation, I.S.P. & Coxhead, A. (2002). RANGE and FREQUENCY programs.  Available at http://www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/staff/paul-nation.aspx .