1 Tel Aviv University (ISRAEL)
2 National Technical University of Greece (GREECE)
3 Kaunas University of Technology (LITHUANIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2020 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 4604-4609
ISBN: 978-84-09-17939-8
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2020.1280
Conference name: 14th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2020
Location: Valencia, Spain
Problem Description:
In many countries across Europe, students leave high school without levels of English they need to cope with English requirements at university. Vocabulary is widely recognized as an ‘enabler’ that supports acquisition of language skills, and students who start university without adequate English will struggle to understand textbooks and research papers in English.

Research on High-Frequency Vocabulary:
Text Analytics has enabled researchers to identify wordlists of general academic words that frequently appear in academic texts published in English, such as Gardner and Davies’ (2013) Academic Vocabulary List and Coxhead’s (2000) Academic Word List. These words are known as ‘high-frequency’ words and mastering these words is essential for comprehending text content. However, results of research on high-frequency academic words have been slow to filter down into high school classrooms.

Up2U’s OER-based Solutions:
As part of Up2U’s efforts to bridge high school – university gaps across Europe, the project has curated high-quality open educational resources (OERs) for self-directed, independent study. These OERs are aimed at helping high school students prioritize vocabulary learning and supplement their classroom studies by independent study of English as a Foreign Language.

Our working assumptions in this project include:
1. There will never be enough hours in the classroom to teach all the high-frequency academic English vocabulary that students need to know.
2. There are often not enough highly qualified, well-trained English teachers, especially in peripheral and geographically isolated regions.
3. Students who graduate from high school at Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) level B2 level do not learn many key academic terms and concepts which appear only at C1 and C2 levels – for example ‘distribution’ (C1) and interpretation (C2).

The first part of our paper will describe some of Up2U’s OERs for English language learning, including:
1. Roads to Academic Reading – a unique CEFR-aligned vocabulary website based on text analytics that enables users to upload their own digital texts to identify which words in their texts are high-frequency academic words that learners should focus on studying first.
2. Resources section of Roads site - list of over 50 exercises that focus on critical evaluation of information and academic literacy.
3. Videoclip on how to write the Introduction section of an academic paper, based on Swales’ (2004) CARS model.

In addition, teachers and students who join the Up2U project have 24-month free access to Pearson’s University Success series, written for English language learners preparing for tertiary level studies and MyGrammar Lab to help students become autonomous learners and close their English Language gaps.

The second part of our paper will report on how two Up2U Pilot countries, Greece and Lithuania, are using the projects’ technological tools and support materials to bridge the high-school – university gaps and smooth their students’ transition to university.

[1] Coxhead, A. (2000). A New Academic Word List. TESOL Quarterly, Vol. 34, No. 2 (Summer, 2000), pp. 213-238
[2] Gardner, D. & Davies, M. (2013). A New Academic Vocabulary List. Applied Linguistics 35(3): 305-327
[3] Swales, J.& Feak, C.B. (2004). Academic Writing for Graduate Students: Essential Skills and Tasks. 2nd edition. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2004.
Second Language Vocabulary Acquisition, academic English, Common European Framework of Reference.