Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 14. Number 2 June 2023                                             Pp.77-89

 Full Paper PDF 

From Needs Analysis to the Establishment of a University Vocabulary List for English Majors

 Konul Hajiyeva
Department of Foreign Languages Teaching Methodology
Azerbaijan University of Languages
Baku, Azerbaijan


Received:12/27/2022         Accepted:04/28/2023                 Published: 06/24/2023


This paper concerns the academic vocabulary needs of undergraduate English majors in a tertiary context in Azerbaijan. Based on the results of the previous studies, it is suggested that developing an appropriate course material to meet the specific learning needs of these students will be beneficial for them. Thus, this study aims to identify the percentage of the running words and high-frequency word families beyond the 2,000 most-frequent words in the university textbook corpus to help the students to attain 98% lexical coverage. To address English majors’ scant academic vocabulary knowledge, a University Vocabulary List has been created. First, a university textbook corpus comprising the words used in 11 subject-specific course textbooks across subject areas taught at Azerbaijan University of Languages was compiled. Next, the range and frequency distribution of the words beyond the British National Corpus scale 2,000-word families was examined. Finally, the 396 most frequently occurring word families in the corpus were chosen; these formed the proposed University Vocabulary List for English majors, accounting for a 6.96% lexical coverage. The University Vocabulary List for English majors and the British National Corpus 2,000 high-frequency word families, including proper nouns, provide a text coverage of 97.28%, which is only marginally lower than the suggested lexical threshold of 98% suggested by Laufer and Ravenhorst-Kalovski (2010) and Nation (2006). It is, therefore, argued that the University Vocabulary List represents a sufficiently frequent and relevant vocabulary load for English majors whose secondary educational background and first-year general English textbooks have not equipped them for the linguistic challenges they face at the initial stages of their tertiary education. The article concludes by stating the pedagogical implications for developing these learners’ knowledge and use of the most frequent word families.
Keywords: English majors, frequency, needs analysis, range, University Vocabulary List, vocabulary development

Cite as:  Hajiyeva, K.  (2023). From Needs Analysis to the Establishment of a University Vocabulary List for English Majors
Arab World English Journal, 14 (2) 77-89.


Bauer, L., & Nation, I.S.P. (1993). Word Families. International Journal of Lexicography, 6(4), 253-279.

Bogaards, P., & Laufer, B. (2004). Introduction. In P. Bogaards & B. Laufer (Eds.), Vocabulary in a Second Language (pp. vii-xiv). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Brezina, V., & Gablasova, D. (2015). Is there a core general vocabulary? Introducing the New General Service List. Applied Linguistics, 36 (1), 1-21.

Carkin, S. (2005). English for Academic Purposes. In E. Hinkel (Ed.) Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning (pp. 85-98) New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

Chung, T.M., & Nation, I.S.P. (2004). Identifying technical vocabulary. System, 32, 251-263. doi:10.1016/j.system.2003.11.008

Coxhead, A. (2000). A new academic word list. TESOL Quarterly, 34(2), 213–238.

Coxhead, A. (2011). The academic word list 10 years on: Research and teaching implications. TESOL Quarterly, 45(2), 355–362.

Dudley-Evans, T., & St John, M. (1998). Developments in English for specific purposes: A multidisciplinary approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gardner, D., & Davies, M. (2013). A new Academic Vocabulary List. Applied Linguistics 2013: 1–24. doi:10.1093/applin/amt015.

Hajiyeva, K. (2014). Receptive and productive vocabulary level needs: An empirical study of Azerbaijani English majors. International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research, 9(1), 1–16.

Hajiyeva, K. (2015a). Receptive and productive academic vocabulary knowledge of Azerbaijani English majors. Scientific Papers, 2, 368-378.

Hajiyeva, K. (2015b). Exploring the relationship between receptive and productive vocabulary sizes and their increased use by Azerbaijani English majors. English Language Teaching, 8(8), 31-45. doi:10.5539/elt.v8n8p31

Hajiyeva, K. (2015c). A corpus-based lexical analysis of subject-specific university textbooks for English majors. Ampersand, 2, 136–144.

Heatley, A., Nation, I.S.P., & Coxhead, A. (2002). RANGE and FREQUENCY programs. Available online at

Hsu, W. (2013). Bridging the vocabulary gap for EFL medical undergraduates: The establishment of a medical word list. Language Teaching Research, 17(4), 454–484.

Hyland, K. & Tse, P. (2007). Is there an “academic vocabulary”? TESOL Quarterly, 41(2), 235–253.

Jordan, R.R. (2012). English for Academic Purposes. A Guide and Resource Book for Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Laufer, B., & Ravenhorst-Kalovski, G.C. (2010). Lexical threshold revisited: Lexical text coverage, learner’s vocabulary size and reading comprehension. Reading in a Foreign Language 22(1), 15–30.

Laufer, B. (2020). Lexical coverages, inferencing unknown words and reading comprehension: How are they related? TESOL Quarterly, 54(4), 1076−1085.

Martinez, I. A., Beck, S. & Panza, C. B. (2009). Academic vocabulary in agriculture research articles: A corpus-based study. English for Specific Purposes, 28, 183–198. doi: 10.1016/j.esp.2009.04.003.

Miller, D., & Biber, D. (2015). Evaluating reliability in quantitative vocabulary studies: The influence of corpus design and composition. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 20(1), 30-53. doi: 10.1075/ijcl.20.1.02mil

Milton, J., & Treffers-Daller, J. (2013). Vocabulary size revisited: The link between vocabulary size and academic achievement. Applied Linguistics Review, 4(1), 151–172. doi: 10.1515/applirev-2013-0007

Nation, I.S.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 (pp. 3-14) Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Nation, I.S.P. (2006). How large a vocabulary is needed for reading and listening? The Canadian Modern Language Review, 63(1), 59–82.

Nation, P. (2011). Learning vocabulary in another language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nation, I.S.P. (2016) Making and Using Word Lists for Language Learning and Testing. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Nation, I.S.P. & Waring, R. (1997). Vocabulary size, text coverage and word lists. In N. Schmitt & M. McCarthy (Eds.), Vocabulary: Description, Acquisition, and Pedagogy (pp. 6-17). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nation, I.S. P., & Webb, S. (2011). Researching and Analyzing Vocabulary. United States: Heinle, Cengage Learning.

Qian, D.D. (2002). Investigating the relationship between vocabulary knowledge and academic reading performance: An assessment perspective. Language Learning, 52(3), 51–536.

Praninskas, J. (1972). American University Word List. London: Longman.

Schmitt, N. (2008). Instructed second language vocabulary learninng. Language Teaching Research, 12(3), 329-363.

Schmitt, N. (2010a). Researching Vocabulary. A Vocabulary Research Manual. United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.

Schmitt, N. (2010b). Vocabulary in Language Teaching. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Schmitt, N., & Schmitt, D. (2012). A reassessment of frequency and vocabulary size in L2 vocabulary teaching. Language Teaching, 1–20. doi: 10.1017/SO261444812000018

Wang, J., Liang, S., & Ge, G. (2008). Establishment of a medical academic word list. English for Specific Purposes, 27, 442–458.

Ward, J. W. (2009). A basic engineering word list for less proficient foundation engineering

West, M. (1953). A General Service List of English Words. London: Green.

Xue, G., & Nation, I.S.P. (1984). A university word list. Language Learning and Communication, 3, 215–229.


Received: 12/27/2022
Accepted: 04/28/2023 
Published: 06/24/2023 

Konul Hajiyeva is a post-doc researcher in Applied Linguistics and senior lecturer at Azerbaijan University of Languages. Her research interests include hybrid teaching, vocabulary development, and continuing professional development. She is also involved as a head of the unit State language and foreign languages at State Examination Center of the Azerbaijan Republic.