Academic Vocabulary

Academic Vocabulary is defined as words that are traditionally used in academic dialogue and text. These types of words are used to explain a concept; they are not necessarily common or frequently encountered in informal conversation.

Academic language (e.g., analyze, contract, factor, structure, minor) is used in classroom lessons, books, assignments, and tests, and students must become proficient in it to learn effectively in school and academic programs. It is central to building knowledge and conceptual understanding in specific domains such as science and math. Students need to understand the teacher’s explanations, discuss what they are learning, read academic texts, and write about their learning. Study of academic vocabulary word lists also gives students the knowledge and skills to successfully navigate school policies and expectations.

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Teaching Academic Vocabulary Word Lists

Academic vocabulary activities and instruction is important for ELL students, who may lack the vocabulary foundation for success in learning content-area subjects and reading academic texts.

Before students read text or learn new content, introduce key academic vocabulary that is critical to understanding. Elicit background knowledge, create conversation and connections, and display or point out the words so that students will recognize them. Teach words that have multiple meanings and apply to other content areas, and engage students in analyzing words to determine meanings (root words, affixes, etc). Creating academic vocabulary word lists, and pairing them with engaging activities, can help students retain information more effectivey.


Academic Vocabulary Sample List
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How can academic vocabulary be developed using VocabularySpellingCity?

  • Teachers can create their own custom academic vocabulary word lists to focus on key concepts, or choose from the word lists on this page. Choose fewer words for instruction, but offer more in-depth study for each – especially those words students will encounter throughout their academic careers.
  • Have students use Sentence Writing Practice and Paragraph Writing Practice academic vocabulary activities to apply new vocabulary word knowledge, creating their own descriptions, explanations, or examples.
  • Teachers can create Review Lists using a student’s incorrect words for extra student practice. Review Lists can also be used to identify student error patterns and understand where additional instruction is needed.

This grouping of word lists is based on the work of Dr. Averil Coxhead, which is a very useful resource for English for Academic Purposes teachers and learners.

Dr. Robert Marazano identified academic words from 11 subject areas and organized into four grade bands: K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12. These academic vocabulary lists by grade level are based on that research. Each academic english vocabulary list is grade-level appropriate and connects a subject area.

Academic Vocabulary Lists by Grade Level

In today’s high-stakes testing, students taking these types of assessments are expect to read and understand words and phrase such as character trait and primary source which are found in directions and questions. This group has 15 academic vocabulary word lists and each list has 8 words. Grades 1 & 2 use Lists 1-4. Grades 3-5 use all lists. Grades 6-8 use lists 7-15.

Academic Vocabulary Words ListView the Common Core State Standards Related to Academic LanguageClose

Common Core State Standards Related to Academic Language

Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.

Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases; gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

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Academic Vocabulary List 1: analyze, structure, category, conclude, illustrate, locate, contrast, label, summarize, cite

Academic Vocabulary List 2: explicit, trace, infer, theme, distinct, recognize, evident, evaluate, interpret, demonstrate

Academic Vocabulary List 3: integrate, comprehend, determine, develop, consist, contract, factor, indicate, issue, major

Academic Vocabulary List 4: identify, organize, refer, method, proceed, require, assist, similar, seek, section

Academic Vocabulary List 5: suggest, process, respond, concept, involve, feature, item, support, focus, conduct

Academic Vocabulary List 6: assess, benefit, synthesize, acquire, chapter, aspect, complex, consume, impact, invest

Academic Vocabulary List 7: final, significant, injure, maintain, normal, obtain, participate, design, positive, text

Academic Vocabulary List 8: secure, potential, transfer, select, source, previous, function, relevant, element, specific

Academic Vocabulary List 9: assume, context, establish, resource, survey, comment, constant, fund, layer, react

Academic Vocabulary List 10: valid, purchase, contribute, document, remove, volume, criteria, initial, outcome, interact

Academic Vocabulary List 11: exclude, imply, minor, link, alternative, range, perceive, available, strategy, role

Academic Vocabulary List 12: appropriate, restrict, component, coordinate, justify, partner, rely, proportion, task, specify

Academic Vocabulary List 13: consent, correspond, dominate, maximize, technique, register, sufficient, shift, sequence, publish

Academic Vocabulary List 14: access, commit, cycle, despite, emerge, implement, internal, investigate, option, retain

Academic Vocabulary List 15: series, project, occupy, concentrate, debate, attitude, phase, obvious, predict, goal

Academic Vocabulary List 16: status, domestic, adjust, attribute, prior, promote, resolve, conflict, contact, monitor

Academic Vocabulary List 17: pursue, target, version, expand, alter, aware, enforce, image, evolve, brief

Academic Vocabulary List 18: flexible, minimum, motive, reveal, transform, utilize, confirm, convert, foundation, identical

Academic Vocabulary List 19: insert, attach, band, enhance, diverse, generate, external, facilitate, decline, stable

Academic Vocabulary List 20: initiate, display, interval, rational, recover, transport, aid, eliminate, isolate, reverse

Academic Vocabulary List 21: submit, priority, challenge, unique, visible, prohibit, survive, definite, deny, transmit

Academic Vocabulary List 22: topic, comprise, neutral, abandon, clarify, conform, crucial, exhibit, inspect, random

Academic Vocabulary List 23: terminate, virtual, impose, annual, apparent, capacity, incorporate, guarantee, innovate, intervene

Academic Vocabulary List 24: simulate, release, ultimate, contradict, denote, detect, manipulate, predominant, uniform, anticipate

Academic Vocabulary List 25: attain, cease, coincide, duration, insight, mutual, portion, restrain, scenario, temporary

Academic Vocabulary List 26: violate, assemble, convince, encounter, intrinsic, acknowledge, civil, approximate, considerable, individual

Academic Vocabulary List 27: authority, distribute, environment, income, occur, policy, regulate, communicate, overall, amend

Academic Vocabulary List 28: consult, discrete, enable, emerge, expose, license, modify, perspective, reject, revenue

Academic Vocabulary List 29: sustain, trend, allocate, exceed, incentive, input, advocate, classic, couple, extract

Academic Vocabulary List 30: differentiate, successor, voluntary, accompany, accumulate, appreciate, displace, eventual, currency, radical

Academic Vocabulary Activities & Games provides academic vocabulary word lists, printables, and interactive games and activities that give students the opportunity to use these words.

Try WhichWord? Sentences with an Academic Vocabulary word list.

Academic Vocabulary Activities