The Learning and Use of Academic English Words


David Corson Modern Language Centre, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, 252 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario M5S IV6,


This article examines the learning and use of academic English words by students who differ socioculturally. It argues that the Graeco-Latin vocabulary of English, which dominates the language's academic vocabulary, offers various levels of potential difficulty for students from different class, cultural, or linguistic social factions. It presents the evidence for this conclusion by integrating work from discursive psychology, the sociology of language, psycholinguistics, and applied linguistics, and by attempting a comprehensive review of the published literature on its topic. The article concludes by inferring some changes to practices in L1 and L2 academic English education.