Welcome to Academic Vocabulary Development, the focus of which is enhancing students' facility with lexis that should useful for academic pursuits such as crafting your policy paper(s). This is an 8-week course offered by the Center for Professional Communication during winter term, 2017.

In this course, we will be delving into the following focus areas, which you'll find explained in greater detail below. In addition, you'll also find a week-by-week syllabus toward the bottom of this page.

  • ✓ Reading, the backbone
  • ✓ Class Word Bank (via Google Sheets)
  • ✓ Domain-specific vocabulary
  • ✓ Sub-technical vocabulary
  • ✓ Concordancing

Below you'll see a symbol against a light green background: . That symbol is a crossed pair of tools, meaning that the article that follows requires hard work.

 February 8 (Session #1) — Course Introduction & Technology Basics 

Our initial class will include an overview of the course and vocabulary learning in general in addition to a detailed explanation of the various software we'll be employing in the course.

We'll begin this evening with in introduction to our course. The Session 1 handout you'll have received this evening is available at this link; we will do this for handouts throughout the course.

Class material and homework

After all the fun you've had this evening, you DO have some homework, of course.


  • ✓ Find 10 academic articles related to your specialty or academic area. Bring them to class on your computer or USB; in addition, upload them to your "academic article" folder in Google Drive.
  • ✓ Bring your computer to class next week.
  • ✓ Accept your invitation to our class folder on Google Drive.
  • ✓ Upload some words to our class Word Bank

 February 15 (Session #2) — Selecting Material; Word Bank practice 

In today's class we have two specific purposes: first, we will manipulate your (our) data so that we can examine it using corpus analysis tools, and then we will devote time to the process of selecting words to learn, which is of considerable importance in learning vocabulary efficiently. To wit, spending time learning arcane, obscure words is of little help, whereas learning commonly-used academic vocabulary is much more productive.

Class material and homework

 February 22 (Session #3) — Sustainability, The Basics 

In this session we'll commence the format that many of our classes will employ. As you might have suspected, YouTube again has several very informative tutorials.

Our first activity will center on the reading provided in the previous week's class. As you will know from this evening's class, these readings and associated tasks fall under the general heading of sustainability, which is a reasonably common topic among GRIPS students. It is also an issue of quite pressing importance as we careen toward depletion of the fossil fuels that have powered the growth of modern society.

Let's begin our journey with Sir Nicholas Stern's 2014 TED talk about the state of the climate and what might be done about it.

The second task is to identify words that would be beneficial to add to your lexicon.

Third, we'd like to engage in some active use of these new lexemes. To wit, we'd like to have you form small groups of 3-5 members and discuss the following questions. In doing so, your concern is to actually incorporate some (or all?) of the words that you've chosen to focus on and therefore learn.

Fourth, to cement all this new vocabulary in your memory, we'd like you to again produce something. More specifically, you will write either a reaction paper to the article you read or a summary thereof.

Finally, your task this week is to add words to our class Word Bank, which you are quite capable of doing (right?).

Class material and homework

 March 1 (Session #4) — Social Consequences 

Of course, the issue of sustainability comes with effects on society, and the relationship goes both ways.

Class material and homework

 Date TBA (Session #5) — Corpus Work (from Noguchi material) 

In this class we will be on a slightly different tangent on our road to vocabulary prowess. To wit, we will first spend some time examining first abstracts and then introducations for their organization. This will, of course, help you as you consume and ultimately create your own introducations for our various papers at GRIPS. The second step is to scrutinize the lexical essense of introductions, but we will go beyond single words and peruse chunks or n-grams (in which n simply refers to the number of words; a 3-gram would cleverly have three words).

Moves: From the work of John Swales we have the notion of moves, which are the parts or elements of a particular section. We will begin with abstracts (cleverly), and here we have a useful overview of the parts of an abstract, courtesy of Karen and her How To(sday) blog.

Developing a mini-corpus: You naturally need some data to examine when considering the construction of a section and the various moves therein. Tonight we will look at two methods you could employ, using Excel (sample here) or venturing into concordancing software like WordSmith or AntConc. Of course, to use such software you'd need to make your very own mini-corpus.

Class material and homework

Collins mini-lesson: Let's take a few minutes to explore in more detail the wonders of the Collins world. This refers, of course, to the dictionary and the thesaurus that are so readily available online (and in our trusty CPC!).

 March 15 (Session #6) — The Economic Side of Climate Change 

Good evening, everyone. Let's begin with an administrative note (since you've been chomping at the bit, right?). Your final paper, you ask? Indeed, here are the details of your final paper for this course.

Class material and homework

 Date TBA (Session #7) — The Urban Scene 

In this session we turn our attention to the ongoing phenomenon of the growth of urban areas and the many, many effects therein. With the current world population projected to continue to grow well into the foreseeable future, the concommitant growth of cities should come as no surprise.

Class material and homework

 Date TBA (Session #8) — Policy Implications 

In our final class, we'll be looking at how you could use the skills we've been learning this term to help you craft and then revise an introduction for a paper on sustainability.

As you are aware, this class markes the finale of our vocabulary quest and of our all-too-brief look at sustainability. However, this discussion will certainly continue, and we invite you to listen to the words of Al Gore, the man behind the documentary titled "An Inconvenient Truth." In this recent TED talk, Mr. Gore outines his belief that optimism is warranted. (You'll find the transcript here.)

Class material and homework

  • Working outline
  • Ödalen (2014) Underwater self-determination
  • Bierman & Boas (2010) Global governance system to protect climate refugees

Immediately below you'll find material for the five focus areas we'll address in our class. The image to the right, you ask? Well, you likely have heard of goldsmiths, who work with gold. Silversmiths work with silver, and blacksmiths work with iron. To the right we find a mustachioed gentleman working with the letter U, so he must be ... a wordsmith, of course!

 1. Reading 

Here you'll find a ...

At this link you'll find the Scientific American webpage, where you'll find a host of interesting reading.

A journal that I enjoy when I have time is The Atlantic, which carries both news and commentary.

 2. Class Word Bank 

As you might have suspected, YouTube again has several very informative tutorials.

 3. Domain-specific vocabulary 

As you might have suspected, YouTube again has several very informative tutorials.

 4. Sub-technical vocabulary 

As you might have suspected, YouTube again has several very informative tutorials.

 5. Concordancing 

As you might have suspected, YouTube again has several very informative tutorials.

 The Compleat Lexical Tutor — Another option is Tom Cobb's website called The Compleat Lexical Tutor.

 The Michigan Corpus of Academic Spoken English (MICASE)  A further very useeful option is from the University of Michigan with its MICASE.

 AntConc — Developed by Lawrence Anthony just down the street from us at Waseda, this is a very useful set of tools. Here is his webpage, on which you'll find lots of information in addition to the various types of software (including AntConc) that he has developed. For our purposes in this course, here is the AntConc webpage.

Lest this all seem beyond comprehension, Dr. Anthony has provided a series of tutorials available on YouTube.

AntConc 3.4.0 Tutorial 1: Getting Started

AntConc 3.4.0 Tutorial 2: Concordance Tool - Basic Features

I will readily admit that the Keylist tool was a mystery the first time that I tried it. Thankfully, this explains it nicely.

I'll leave it up to you to search for more helpful tutorials.

 Possible reading material 

Putting an environmental price tag on coal (New York Times)

New geological epoch (Washington Post)

Swedish model of green economic growth (BBC News)

Preparing for the inevitable sea-level rise (The Atlantic)

Did Dubya help save the world? (BBC News)

Guitar wood (The Atlantic)

Progress good for humanity? (The Atlantic)

Socially-responsible food (The Atlantic)

Sustainability, not just agribusiness (The Atlantic)

Sustainable cities: What makes urban areas successful?

Ocean farming to fight climate change

URL: www.jimelwood.net/students/grips/acavocab/acavocab.html

The logo was created on Cool Text.

Date last updated: December 27, 2017 * Copyright 2017 by Midas, Cyrus, and all the other lunatics.