February 2022
RVIS Newsletter



Thomas Bieri, Nanzan Univ, Japan

Dear ReadVoc Readers,

I will keep this message short and, hopefully, sweet, knowing that our editors, Doreen Ewart and Christy Williams, have given an overview of the important things to say about this newsletter and the Reading and Vocabulary Interest Section (RV-IS). Once again, I would like to start by thanking you, our readers, for taking an interest in our newsletter, and I encourage you to add your voices to our active community of practice by submitting articles for future newsletters, responding on myTESOL to articles found here, and/or initiating discussions there.

At this time of year we are keenly anticipating the annual TESOL Convention, and many of us are excited to see that there will once again be opportunities for meeting face to face. There is also an option of joining some elements virtually for those of us, like myself, prevented by circumstances from attending in person. While personally sorely disappointed not to be able to be physically present at the event, I am thankful that virtual participation has remained an option.

The RV-IS Steering Committee members have been working behind the scenes to help put on some of the sessions at the convention, including our academic session and two intersections - sessions where two or more interest sections combine resources to engage with a topic that intersects their respective areas. Our academic session, Improving L2 Vocabulary and Reading Skills in K–12, will focus on building skills in young learners of English. RV-IS is hosting an intersection in cooperation with the Computer Assisted Language Learning IS, titled Online Resources for Reading Fluency and Vocabulary Building, in which the presenters will help guide us in finding and choosing effective online resources. We have also cooperated with the Bilingual-Multilingual Education IS on Reimagining Translingual Pedagogy in Multilingual Reading Instruction and Assessment. This is a prerecorded panel discussion on promoting bi/multilingualism and social justice in varied contexts via translanguaging practices.

Finally, I hope that you will find this newsletter, RV-IS webinars, posts and discussions in myTESOL, and the sessions at the international convention to be not only useful in your professional practice but also enjoyable.


Thomas E. Bieri

Thomas E. Bieri is an Associate Professor in the Department of Business Administration and Deputy Director of the Center for International Affairs at Nanzan University. He has over three decades working in tertiary language education, primarily teaching EFL in Japan.


Christy Williams University of South Florida, Florida, USA
Doreen Ewert University of San Francisco, California, USA

Christy Williams

Doreen Ewert

Happy New Year!!

In our last letter, we had hoped we would be experiencing life post-pandemic or at least “late”-pandemic, but it seems we are all still in the middle of another surge. Nonetheless, we hope ……

We are beginning our third year as an Interest Section and our second year of the Read-Voc Newsletter. It was delightful to receive two articles to share with you without much prompting at all. We certainly hope that continues into the future. Although we have submission deadlines listed, you are welcome to send us an article, book review, or other informative content (see the Call for Submissions) at any time.

In the current newsletter, we have two articles focused on academic vocabulary instruction. Both authors present creative ways to enhance explicit instruction of academic vocabulary. Arndt introduces several corpus-based applications for use in the classroom, and Miranda describes her initial implementation of an extracurricular academic vocabulary club. Both approaches promote learner motivation for and autonomy in vocabulary learning.

We are happy to report that the survey included in our last newsletter led to some excellent webinars. The first was in October, 2021, Reading Like a Writer: Using Readings to Teach Grammar with Alison Kuehner, and the second was in January, 2022, Engaging Latino Students During Read Alouds with Informational Texts in Dual-Language Contexts with Dr. Desirée Pallais, Luis Pineda, and Olga Quevedo. Please let Hetal Ascher, our Community Engagement Coordinator, know if you have other ideas about webinars we should hold or if you are interested in presenting on a relevant topic for our membership.

We have also included a short list of vocabulary and/or reading events at TESOL 2022 that are hosted by the RV-IS or led by members of the RV-IS. We hope to meet you at one or all of these events in Pittsburgh. You can read more about these events in RVIS EVENTS AT TESOL 2022.

One of our goals is to include diverse voices, contexts, and experiences in teaching and researching reading and vocabulary learning. To this end, we encourage you to respectfully respond to content in the newsletter by posting comments on the RV-IS Discussion Board in MyTESOL Community. Please check out the range of topics we are eager to include in future newsletters here. Our next deadline for submissions is July 1, 2022. Feel free, though, to send submissions at any time.

  • University classrooms: Critical Reading Strategies & Tiered Vocabulary
  • PreK–12 reading and vocabulary instruction
  • Reading learner communities in the classroom
  • Extensive Reading
  • Improving/Encouraging Reading Fluency
  • Vocabulary strategies specifically for ESL/EFL
  • Vocabulary retention strategies and application/transference of Vocabulary
  • Professional development in Reading and Vocabulary Topics
  • Potential technological aids for reading and vocabulary
  • Book/media review
  • Lesson plans
  • Handouts and activity sheets
  • Proposed joint research project

Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter! Please invite others to join our community!

With utmost respect,

Christy and Doreen


Christy Williams is a Senior Instructor at the INTO University of South Florida. Christy is a mentor, instructional designer, and researcher on intercultural communications and mentoring as well as information and communication technology (ICT) and refugee education.

Doreen Ewert is a Professor in the Department of Rhetoric and Language and the Director of the Academic English for Multilingual Students Program at the University of San Francisco. She regularly teaches research writing courses for graduate and undergraduate international and domestic students and researches various aspects of L2 literacy development.



Rebeca Arndt, Pasco County School District, Florida, USA

For decades, researchers have continuously highlighted the vital role that knowledge of vocabulary plays in comprehending language, spoken or written. Whether acquiring a foreign language, a second or third language, vocabulary is the foundation of language comprehension.

Informed about the importance of vocabulary in language comprehension, language and content educators across the world implemented various vocabulary teaching techniques into their instruction: word cards, keywords, word parts, dictionary use, word lists, multiword units, etc. For instance, empowered with the knowledge that academic and science-specific vocabulary accounts for a substantial portion of the variance in science reading comprehension of English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and former ESOL students, science teachers began to incorporate explicit academic science-specific vocabulary in their instruction. Similarly, language instructors of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and Intensive English Program (IEP) learners, aware of the importance of vocabulary in language learning, routinely integrate vocabulary teaching techniques in their language instruction. The increased attention to vocabulary in classrooms with ESOL, IEP, and EAP learners is aimed to enhance the learners' vocabulary size (how many lexical items a learner knows) and their vocabulary depth (how well a learner knows a lexical item).

Despite the wide acknowledgment that vocabulary is the cornerstone of language and content learning, educators continue to seek the most effective vocabulary teaching and learning techniques and tools that can be used in their specific instructional context and adapted to the needs of the learners. Some effective vocabulary teaching and learning tools are corpus-based lists. Broadly, these lists are divided into three main categories: general, academic, and technical (domain-specific) vocabulary lists designed for spoken or written purposes. On an individual level, each of the vocabulary lists within the three main categories is unique in many ways because: (a) each is designed from a corpus (large collections of language) comprised of language from specific sources (school textbooks, novels, academic articles, movies, etc.), (b) each corpus has a different size (c) the unit of counting "words" varies (the unit can be a type, a lemma or a word family at level 6), (d) frequency is one of the main criteria of including "words" in the list (e) the size of each list varies, (f) the purpose of each list varies, (g) the usefulness measured by the lexical coverage (the percentage of a specific text/ corpus) of each list varies. With these differences in mind, it may be challenging for educators to select the corpus-based list that best fits their instructional context, the linguistic and/or academic needs of the learners, and the goals sought to accomplish.

While students in ESOL, IEP, and EAP are prepared in the classroom to cope with the language in academic settings where technical vocabulary (which generally is fundamental to a specific topic) can be extremely dense, it is of utmost importance that these learners have strong general and academic vocabulary because general vocabulary makes up the largest percentage in written text and academic vocabulary offers contextual information about technical lexical items. Two corpus-based tools that can help emergent bilinguals in their general and academic vocabulary learning are the General Service List (West, 1953) and the Academic Word List (AWL), designed by Coxhead (2000). The GSL, a high-frequency list for second language (L2) learners, was designed from English written corpora of approximately five million running words. This list contains 1,986 word families at level 6. Likewise, the AWL, a 570 word families list, was extracted from an academic corpus of 3.5 million running words collected from 28 subject areas. In terms of usefulness, measured by the provided lexical coverage (percentage) of the lexical items in the list across texts or corpora, the GSL covers between 71.52%– 91.9% (Coxhead & Hirsch, 2007; Hirsch & Nation, 1992), depending on the texts (science texts versus novels for adolescents) while the AWL provides around 10% in a wide range of academic written texts (Coxhead, 2000).

The beauty of these two lists is that they are embedded in online platforms (e.g., VocabProfiler Classic, WordSift) that can be easily used in the classroom to identify GSL and AWL lexical items across texts. These innovations help teachers process any digital text and extract general, academic, and non-academic or non-general vocabulary (e.g., off-list). An excerpt from the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is used in the sections that follow to illustrate the Lexical Frequency Profiling (LFP) process of identifying general and academic lexical items on the two above-mentioned platforms:

The last few nights he had had the most uncertain feelings about the sidewalk just around the corner here, moving in the starlight toward his house. He had felt that a moment prior to his making the turn, someone had been there. The air seemed charged with a special calm as if someone had waited there, quietly, and only a moment before he came, simply turned to a shadow and let him through. Perhaps his nose detected a faint perfume, perhaps the skin on the backs of his hands, on his face, felt the temperature rise at this one spot where a person's standing might raise the immediate atmosphere ten degrees for an instant. There was no understanding it. Each time he made the turn, he saw only the white, unused, buckling sidewalk, with perhaps, on one night, something vanishing swiftly across a lawn before he could focus his eyes or speak. (Bradbury, 1992, p.2)

1. VocabProfiler (VP) Classic

After accessing VocabProfilers (VP) Classic v.4, the user can insert the text in the input window, select AWL on the right side and press submit window. The profiled output will be color-coded: light blue for the first thousand word families in the GSL, green for the second thousand word families in the GSL, yellow for AWL lexical items, and red for off-list lexical items (mostly technical in nature) that are neither GSL nor AWL lexical items (see Table 1). As a side note, the VocabProfilers suite provides options for processing text against a wide range of academic and technical lists (e.g., Academic Collocations List, the Academic Phrase List adapted from the Oxford Academic Phrasal Lexicon, the Business Service List, etc.).

Table 1. Excerpt profiled with VocabProfiler (VP) Classic


Cumulative percentage

Lexical items




a, about, across, air, an, and, around, as, at, backs, been, before, came, charged, could, degrees, each, eyes, face, feelings, felt, few, for, had, hands, he, here, him, his, house, if, in, it, just, last, let, made, making, might, moment, most, moving, night, nights, no, of, on, one, only, or, perhaps, person, raise, rise, saw, seemed, shadow, simply, someone, something, speak, special, spot, standing, ten, that, the, there, this, through, time, to, toward, turn, turned, uncertain, understanding, waited, was, where, white, with




calm, corner, faint, immediate, instant, nose, quietly, skin, temperature




detected, focus, prior




atmosphere, buckling, lawn, perfume, sidewalk, starlight, swiftly, unused, vanishing

2. WordSift

WordSift also provides the option for pasting a text into the input window, allowing for the text to be further processed. The output obtained can be organized in cloud view or in text view. Cloud view allows for a certain number of lexical items to be displayed in a word cloud, whereas text view offers statistics and readability information. Maintaining the output in cloud view, the user can select the desired cloud style and further choose from the mark words dropdown menu, the GSL, or AWL. Suppose the user clicks on one of the AWL lexical items, for instance. In that case, a WordNet® Visualization (see Picture 1) will appear in the box below the word cloud as well as images and videos associated with the specific lexical item that was clicked on. One more interesting feature available on this platform is the display of the selected lexical item (be it GSL, AWL, etc.) in context, together with information about the number of occurrences and the number of sentences that appear in the text. This feature enables teachers and learners to engage with vocabulary in context.

Picture 1. Excerpt profiled with WordSift

In conclusion, corpus-based lists can be effective for vocabulary learning and teaching because they are purposefully designed from a large representative corpora, following stringent methodological considerations and precise pedagogical purposes. Two corpus-based and frequency-based vocabulary lists that proved their effectiveness repeatedly are the GSL and the AWL. These two lists embedded in VocabProfiler Classic and WordSift can be used in ESOL, IEP, and EAP classrooms to profile any digital text and identify general, academic, and even technical vocabulary. Upon LFP, the vocabulary of interest can be extracted and explicitly taught, discussed, and interacted with to increase the learners' vocabulary size. Simultaneously, one of the platforms presented allows users to interact with vocabulary in context and engage with vocabulary via word visualization, images, and even videos. These features allow learners to enhance their depth of vocabulary knowledge, another facet of vocabulary knowledge that is extremely important and intricately related to reading comprehension.


Bradbury, R. (1992). Fahrenheit, 451. Del, Rey, Books.

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

Coxhead, A., & Hirsh, D. (2007). A pilot science-specific word list. Revue Française de Linguistique Appliqueé, 12(2), 65–78.

Hirsh, D., & Nation, P. (1992). What vocabulary size is needed to read unsimplified texts for pleasure? Reading in a Foreign Language, 8, 689-696.

West, M. (1953). A general service list of English words. Longman: Longman, Green. Yilin Education.

Rebeca Arndt is a Ph.D. graduate in Education, TESOL track, working full-time as an English Language Arts high school, English Honors II, teacher in Florida. Her research interests are related to the field of corpus linguistics (e.g., examining academic/discipline-specific vocabulary across corpora, exploring the relationship between vocabulary and reading comprehension).


Ariadne Miranda, INTO USF, Florida, USA

Vocabulary research has shown that “most L2 students who aspire to academic studies in a country where another language represents the medium of instruction-and is required for all academic writing tasks-need to have a vocabulary of over 5,000 words, which includes academic words that have to be systematically and persistently learned” (Hinkel, 2015, p.83). It is not enough, then, to expect students to acquire academic vocabulary on their own without explicit instruction. Of course, the most motivated students who are also avid readers will very likely learn many vocabulary words on their own, but for the great majority of students, explicit instruction is an important way to ensure adequate exposure and meaningful opportunities to practice words from the Academic Word List (AWL). Language teachers do not need to be familiar with vocabulary research to know that academic vocabulary is an area in which many multilingual students for whom English is an additional language need more support and practice. While we offer vocabulary electives for our students in our program, we know that the more academic vocabulary exposure students have, the better their speaking and writing will be.

In light of the importance of vocabulary development for academically bound students, in Fall 2021, I envisioned and offered an optional extracurricular activity for students in the Academic English Program. I called this activity the Academic English Vocabulary Club. My vision for the club was to make it a relaxing space for students to learn together without the pressure of grades. I wanted this space to be devoid of hierarchy where I would not be seen as the one with all the answers; rather, I wanted to create a space where we would all feel comfortable to learn from one another. My ultimate goal was to help students feel excited about vocabulary and language in general.

I first sent a survey to all students in the Academic English Program to gauge the level of interest. Since we had students both online and in person, I provided students several options for our meetings. The level of interest in this activity surprised me. I received about 20 responses from all levels in the program. Since there are no classes on Fridays in our program, we decided to meet on Fridays at 11 a.m. I offered an option for students who preferred to meet online and for those who preferred to meet face-to-face. At our first meeting, we talked about what we envisioned the club to be. Students agreed that we all owned the club and that it was up to us to make it work. Students liked the idea of equal participation, and the emphasis on learning together without worrying about making mistakes.

I mainly used the Academic Word List (AWL) located here: https://www.eapfoundation.com/vocab/academic/awllists/ I gave students the list divided into sublists. Each week we focused on 10 to 12 words from a different sublist. There are a plethora of activities and resources for vocabulary learning online. I found sites with vocabulary worksheets, but activities were not contextualized, so I concentrated on the words from the AWL. I also incorporated NPR episodes for students to listen and identify words that were new to them. I identified AWL words in advance and would share sentences from the listening with students. Seeing the word in context helped students guess the meaning of the word, and it also helped students remember the word later on.

A Typical Meeting

A typical meeting would have 6 to 7 students and lasted one hour. My vision of giving students ownership of the vocabulary club did not work out as well as I imagined. Students were not very receptive to the idea of making the club their own. I did not want to be the leader of the club, and I also did not want to make the club into another class. Rather, I wanted students to help me lead the club by coming up with ideas for activities or sharing interesting words they had heard during their daily activities. But, this was not to be. Students would share new words every so often, but as hard as I tried to get volunteers to lead a session, I ended up leading all of the sessions. In a typical meeting, some students would join in person and others would join online. I would ask students to share any new words they had encountered with the class. Students were responsible for explaining the meaning of the work and to share an example. We would then go over the words from one of the AWL sublists. We would first discuss any words they were already familiar with, and all participants would have to write an example using the word. After confirming the meaning of the word https://www.wordhippo.com/ we would spend some time reviewing variations of a word. In all cases, students had to write a sentence with all the words discussed in class. Since the meetings were small, every student had a chance to share their sentences, and there were lots of opportunities for feedback. While I was responsible for giving feedback, students felt very comfortable asking questions about meaning and usage. This was my favorite part of our meetings because I was able to ascertain that students were thinking critically about language and that they were comparing the mental maps they had about a word with the information shared in class. These were the moments when I really felt that our time spent together was fruitful.

Lessons Learned

I learned some important lessons through my experience with the vocabulary club. First, it is a great idea to have this type of activity. Students appreciated having a space to learn new words and to practice language in a stress-free setting. Setting the expectations for the club early on is critical by reserving time during the first meeting to come up with the goals for the club. In retrospect, I would spend more time engaging with students to hear their vision for the club and co-constructing a set of guidelines as to how to structure the meetings. II would also integrate more games in club meetings. I did this a couple of times, and students enjoyed it. It takes a little bit of preparation to become familiar with each resource, but with a little planning they can be incorporated easily. Using readings and listening to excerpts from the Internet is something that I would do more. This would allow students to see the words in context and would encourage more participation. The importance of using activities that take into account context cannot be overstated. Using sentences in isolation is not as exciting or effective. Students will benefit from reading academic prose or from listening to interviews or other sources where they can notice new words and reflect on how they are used. The use of advanced language expressions such as collocations is something that needs to be explicitly taught. Because these words do not occur in everyday conversations, it is important to set time aside to devote to them.

The time I spent with students in the club was extremely valuable. Students interacted with students from different levels. They got to practice their speaking and writing skills, and they also had to engage in critical thinking. As I do not teach as often as I would like, it gave me the opportunity to spend time with our students and witness the development of their language proficiency.


Hinkel, E. (2015). Effective curriculum for teaching L2 Writing. Principles and techniques. Routledge.

Dr. Ariadne Miranda, the current associate director of the English Language Program for INTO USF, holds a Ph.D. in communication and over 20 years’ experience managing intensive English programs in higher education. She is passionate about teaching, teacher development, and curriculum design.



The RV-IS, or members of the RV-IS, are hosting or presenting multiple times on reading and vocabulary topics at TESOL 2022.Some of our activities will be recorded and some are live or hybrid. We hope you will consider participating in 1, 2, or maybe all the events that we are hosting or cohosting during this conference.

Implementing Extensive Reading: Why and How.
Pre-Convention Institute ($$)
Tuesday, (1-5 pm) March 22nd
1:00-5:00 pa EST
Live Event

ESL/EFL students need to read fluently for many purposes, yet they are often reluctant readers. In this workshop, participants will learn why and practice how to implement extensive reading (ER—a method that promotes reading fluency, comprehension, motivation and other language skills. Hands-on practice and materials will be provided.

Doreen Ewert, University of San Francisco, CA, United States
Thomnas Robb, Kyoto Sangyo University, Kyoto, Japan

Online Resources for Reading Fluency and Vocabulary Building
Wednesday, March 23rd
10:00-11:30 am EST
Live Event

With myriad resources now available online, the classroom teacher might have a hard time separating the wheat from the chaff. Finding material that meets the needs of one's own students need not be a matter of trial and error. This colloquium presents four speakers to help you make effective choices.

Primary Interest Section: Reading and Vocabulary
Secondary Interest Section: Computer-Assisted Language Learning

Derek Hansen, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, United States
Thomas Robb, Extensive Reading Foundation, Japan
Hetal Ascher, Dulwich College, Beijing, China, People's Republic of
Charles Browne, Meiji Gakuin University, Tokyo, Japan

Improving L2 Vocabulary and Reading Skills in K–12
Wednesday, March 23rd
2- 3:30 pm EST
Live Event

This session links practical and theoretical approaches to vocabulary and reading skills learning and instruction with young learners. The presenters discuss issues such as educational policies at institutional and national levels, best instructional practices, and promoting learner engagement in varied and diverse contexts in K–12 in EFL and ESL settings.

Primary Interest Section: Reading and Vocabulary

Luciana de Oliveira, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, United States
Persida Himmele, Millersville University, Millersville, PA, United States
William Himmele, Millersville University, Millersville, PA, United States

Reimagining Translingual Pedagogy in Multilingual Reading Instruction and Assessment
Pre-recorded presentation
Available on the Virtual Convention Platform

Drawing upon their own experience as linguists and educators who work with multilingual students in different regions of the world—the United States, Israel, and Singapore—panelists discuss how teachers integrate translanguaging practices in instruction and assessment to promote bi/multilingualism and advance a social justice agenda.

Primary Interest Section: Bilingual-Multilingual Education
Secondary Interest Section: Reading and Vocabulary

Clara Bauler, Adelphi University, New York, NY, United States

RV-IS Open Meeting
Wednesday, March 23rd
6:00-7:00 pm EST
Live Event

In this event, you will have the opportunity to meet some of the members of the RVIS community and ask more about what our fairly new Interest Section is about and how to become a member. We hope to see you there!


RVIS Steering Committee

“The Reading and Vocabulary Interest Section (RV-IS) informs teachers, materials writers, curriculum designers, test developers as well as those who set educational policy for language programs about recent advances in our understanding of the process of learning to read, acquiring vocabulary and the process of reading itself. RV-IS aims to promote research in these areas as well as action plans for promoting better reading and vocabulary practices among stakeholders. The Interest Section is not just a forum where TESOL members can share their expertise and insights internally; it also strives to reach beyond the current TESOL membership, forming liaisons with other associations and governmental agencies concerned with the promotion of reading, vocabulary and literacy. We aim to leverage our shared expertise to provide professional development opportunities, to advocate for sound guidelines, and to promote excellence in reading, vocabulary and literacy education worldwide.”


Read-Voc Newslette
r is soliciting articles on reading and/or vocabulary theory, research, and pedagogy in all ESL/EFL settings, and across age/grade levels, including underrepresented contexts, such as two-year programs, community programs, refugees, and remote learning, etc. Submissions with hyperlinks are encouraged.

Pedagogical tips and/or resource suggestions based on intersection hangouts and discussion board postings are also encouraged. Current topics of discussion include

  • Engaging multi level readers with electronic resources
  • Promoting reading skills/strategies in K-12 settings
  • Addressing issues of integrity in online teaching
  • Addressing Reading and Vocabulary from an EFL perspective

How to Submit

If you would like to submit to the Read-Voc Newsletter please read the submission guidelines.

Please send your submissions and questions to the Read-Voc Newsletter Editors: Doreen Ewert and Christy Williams


4th Edition of newsletter deadline: July 1, 2022