Who is this for?

How can Roads to Academic Reading help you?

Tools on this site


Who is this for?

 Do you

  • struggle to understand academic articles and textbooks in English?
  • read too slowly?
  • waste time learning words you will never meet again?

If you want to

  •  improve your reading comprehension
  •  learn the words you really need to know

 then this site can help you.

Here's how:

How can Roads to Academic Reading help you?

Trying to learn all the English words you don’t know is an almost impossible task.

The tools on this site will help you learn the words that appear most often in academic texts - these words are called 'high-frequency' words. It's a simple and easy concept: Learning high-frequency words gives you the most benefits for time and effort you spend on learning new words.

So next time you stop to look up words you don't know, think about this:

  • 75 - 80% of the words in most academic texts come from a list of the 2000 most common words in English.
  • Many of the remaining 20% to 25% of words come from additional lists of high-frequency words.

If you know the high-frequency words in your texts, you will be able to:

  • read faster.
  • spend less time looking up words in a dictionary.
  • spend more time on understanding text content.


This website gives you three routes or 'roads' that will take you to the high-frequency words you need to learn.

Tool #1 - Text Profiler

Tool #2 - Wordlists

Tool #3 - Flashcards and Exercises


 Tools on this site

 Tool #1 - Text Profiler

ROADS Text Profiler will show you which words in your texts are high-frequency words - these are words that often appear in academic texts.

Text Profiler will colour these words blue in your texts to help you:

  • prioritize your vocabulary learning.
  • make smarter, data-based decisions about which words to focus on first.


To learn how to use Text Profiler, click here.


Tool #2 - Wordlists

ROADS lets you choose which 4 high-frequency wordlists you want to learn:

1. A list of the 2000 most common words in English. These words were identified by  Nation (2004), based on the British National Corpus (BNC). Many of these words are taught at high school level.

2. The Academic Word List (AWL). This list was developed by  Coxhead (2000) and contains 570 general academic words that appear most often across at least 4 academic disciplines. Words are arranged in 10 groups. Words in first 5 groups are more likely to appear in your texts than words in the last 5 groups.

Nearly half of the words on the AWL also appear on the list of 2000 most common words in English.

3. The Academic Vocabulary List (AVL). This new list was developed by Davies and Gardner in 2013, and has several advantages over the AWL.

4. Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) vocabulary lists - these are words typically known by learners at each of the six CEFR levels.


 Tools that work with Text Profiler:

Translation Tables

Many students find digital versions of long academic articles difficult to read onscreen. For students who prefer to print out the articles they need to read, Text Profiler will automatically generate printable tables with translations for high-frequency words in your texts.

Printable translation tables will dramatically reduce the time you spend looking up words in a dictionary when you read offline. 

Translations  are available in Hebrew or Arabic, other languages coming soon:


Translation tables help you

  • learn words you don't know BEFORE you read a text.
  • revise words AFTER you finish reading a text.

Translation tables also give you information about 'overlaps' - words that appear on more than one high-frequency wordlist. This information will help you make smarter decisions about which words to learn first.



To access translations while you read your texts in Text Profiler, just click on the word in your text. 


Tool #3 - Flashcards and Exercises

High-frequency wordlists on this site are linked to flashcards. 

Each flashcard gives you the information you need to 'anchor' unfamiliar words in your memory:

  • pronunciations
  • possible translations
  • parts of speech
  • 'also on' feature (top right corner) - this helps you prioritize your vocabulary learning by showing you how many other wordlists a word appears on.


 Flashcards for 300 key academic terms and concepts also give you:

  • explanations and multiple meanings of words
  • examples of sentences
  • links to sets of exercises


 Sets of Exercises

Learning academic vocabulary requires practice - there are no instant solutions.

To make new words stick in your memory, you have to do much more than just read a dictionary definition, or write translations next to words you don't know.

Research shows that remembering new words requires:

  • seeing the word and its meaning multiple times.
  • doing something with the new word.
  • identifying synonyms and examples.
  • 'recycling' and revising words you have learned.

To help you meet these requirements, ROADS gives you sets of exercises for 300 key academic words.

In each set, exercises gradually increase in level of difficulty and amount of reading required.

These unique sets of exercises will help you:

  • build up rich layers of meaning, step by step.
  • see which other words often go together with the target word.
  • practice using different forms of the word.
  • practice and enhance your reading comprehension.


Automatic Quizzes

Automatic quizzes will help you revisit words you learn to make sure you remember what you learn. Roads will automatically generate a quiz every time you finish flashcards or exercises for 5 words.