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Word Lists and Vocabulary Lists

6 May

Almost Midterms

Photo by Brian Turner (steakpinball) on flickr

If you plan to study at a university in the United States, you will need to learn a lot of vocabulary. There are 4 very useful word lists that can help you. Learn the first list first. Then move on the second list. Learn those words. Next learn the third list. After you know those, then you can learn the fourth list. The lists get more difficult as you go, so knowing the first list is important for knowing the second list (and so on).

Dolch List

The first list is called the Dolch list. It is a list of sight words. These are words that you should be able to recognize when you read. You shouldn’t have to think about their meaning or translate them. They should be known when you see them (in other words, upon sight).


The second list is called the General Service List. These are words that are common in every day English. They should help you in life not just in school.


The third list is called the University Word List. You can probably guess that these are words that will help you at a university. They are common words found in academic textbooks.


The final list is called the Academic Word List. This is generally the list of words that you will try to learn if you study in an English program at a university in the U.S. These words are found in many academic textbooks and are useful for ALL fields of study. If you’re studying engineering, business, or psychology, it doesn’t matter. You will probably see a lot of these words.

Look at each word list carefully. Start with the first list, the Dolch list. Do you know all those words? If you don’t know them all by sight (without translating), start learning them. After you know the Dolch list well, learn the GSL list. After you know the GSL, learn the UWL, and after you know the UWL, learn the AWL. Which list do you need to learn right now? Leave a comment and let us know. You can also ask about some of the words you don’t know!

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