Academic Vocabulary – Medium

For ESL levels 4+

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

This week, you will learn ten academic vocabulary words. Americans learn these words in school. You will see a word and then (n) or (v). If the word is a noun (thing), you will see (n). If the word is a verb (action), you will see (v). Then you will see the definition (meaning) of the word. Some words have more than one meaning. I will give you an example sentence with each definition.

If you are confused about a word, please ask your teacher to explain it. Your teacher can also give you more information about each word – plural forms of nouns, past forms of verbs, pronunciation, etc.

When you feel comfortable with a new word, try to use it in class or in a conversation outside of class. Practice two words each day until you are comfortable with all of them!

  • ape (n) – a large, strong animal related to monkeys (includes gorillas and chimpanzees) / When I visit the zoo, I like to watch the baby apes with their mothers.
    (v) – to copy the actions or words of a person/thing; to pretend to be something / Young children often ape the actions of adults or older children.
  • brain (n) – the part of the body that controls the other parts; the gray matter made of nerve cells that sits inside the skull (head); the part of the body used for thinking / When I have a problem, I use my brain to think of a solution.
  • branch (n) – a part of a tree that grows out of the trunk (main part); any small piece of a large system, like a bank or library / While I was climbing the tree, the branch broke, and I fell.
  • cavern (n) – a large cave / My apartment is in the basement and doesn’t have many windows, so it feels like I’m living in a cavern.
  • chimney (n) – the tall piece on top of a house where smoke escapes from the fire inside / When the weather is very cold, you can see smoke coming out of many chimneys.
  • dozen (n) – twelve; a group of twelve / Charlie loves doughnuts. He eats a dozen doughnuts every week.
  • flame (n) – fire; the bright, hot, glowing gas we see when something is on fire / Each candle has one flame.
  • net (n) – a piece of material made of string or rope that is tied together, leaving even holes / Fishermen can catch many fish at one time if they use a large net.
  • spear (n) – a long stick with a sharp, pointed end / Fishermen can only catch one fish at a time if they use a spear.
  • torch (n) – a stick with fire on top, used for giving light / Before the Olympics, runners carry the Olympic torch around the world.

Your Turn

Do you want more practice with these words? Click here to hear the words, see pictures, and read more examples.

Click here to learn more words and play games!

Complete each sentence with the correct word(s) from the list.

  1. Before warriors had guns, they fought with knives, arrows, and __________________.
  2. In the U.S. government system, there are three __________________ – executive, judicial, and legislative.
  3. It’s important to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle or motorcycle because you need to protect your __________________.
  4. The explorer used a __________________ to help him see in the dark __________________.
  5. When the __________________ on the torch died, the explorer had to use his other senses to find his way in the dark.
  6. There are about a __________________ birds sitting on the __________________ of that tree.
  7. Emily got in trouble on the bus because she __________________ the bus driver’s southern accent.
  8. The circus performer is very brave. He performs without a safety __________________ below him.
  9. Before we use our fireplace, we need someone to clean the __________________.

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