In order to help ESL students in the Foundations Program at BYU's ELC, I have developed a 500-word list of essential English vocabulary. This list attempts to reach one of the goals of the institute's curriculum, which is to develop systematic, integrated vocabulary instruction. Published literature reveals that studying with a list in conjunction with explicit instruction can enhance L2 vocabulary learning when the instruction is systematically integrated with other skills and activities. The literature also shows the importance of learning the most frequent and essential words first, which can be found in the General Service List and the Academic Word List according to learners' needs. In order to develop an essential vocabulary list of 500 words for the Foundations Program at the ELC, I used several strategies. First, to investigate which words in their textbooks the students use, I analyzed the graded readers and listening books required in the curriculum of the Foundations Program. Second, after investigating the texts of the textbooks, the second step was to conduct a survey in order to investigate learners' lexical knowledge. To develop a reliable survey, reliable research strategies were conducted. The first survey was conducted at the end of Fall Semester 2009. Following the first survey, the second survey was conducted at the beginning of Winter Semester 2010. The administration of the two surveys revealed the students' self-reported knowledge about specific vocabulary items in the lists. Following the administration and analysis of the two surveys, I generated the final 500-word list for the students in the Foundations Program at BYU's ELC. The words were based on the students' needs and knowledge, and were generated based on the essential words from the GSL and the AWL in order to meet the goals of the curriculum of the Foundations Program.



College and Department

Humanities; Linguistics and English Language



Date Submitted


Document Type

Selected Project




essential English vocabulary, lists, survey, the GSL, the AWL



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Linguistics Commons