Academic Spoken Vocabulary in TED Talks: Implications for Academic Listening

Chen Yu Liu*, Howard Hao Jan Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Although TED talks are commonly used as supplementary listening materials in English classrooms, whether they are suitable materials for academic listening is still arguable. This study thus employs the Academic Spoken Word List (ASWL) and the British National Corpus and Corpus of Contemporary American English (BNC/COCA) lists to analyze TED talks’ vocabulary profiles in a corpus consisting of transcripts of 2085 such talks from six main topics. The analysis reveals high coverage of the ASWL over TED talks at approximately 90%. The coverage figure is similar to that of the ASWL over academic speech, suggesting that TED talks should be suitable materials for academic listening. Learners are also likely to learn high-frequency academic spoken vocabulary from such talks. This study also discovers that learners can reach the same coverage of TED talks by studying either the 1741 word families in the ASWL or the first 2000 word families in the BNC/COCA lists. The learning load is lower for learners to study the ASWL, thus making it a more suitable vocabulary support for comprehending TED talks. Based on the findings, this study provides several useful suggestions regarding how TED talks can be used in EAP courses.

Translated title of the contributionTED Talks中的學術口語詞彙:對英語聽力教學之意涵
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-368
Number of pages16
JournalEnglish Teaching and Learning
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Dec 1


  • Academic listening
  • Academic spoken vocabulary
  • Lexical coverage
  • TED talks
  • Vocabulary profile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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