Warren Matsuoka


PhD candidate




Building.Room: A36.206


vocabulary studies, corpus linguistics

Research project description

Although most English as a foreign language (EFL) students in Asia have studied the target language for at least six years as a core subject in their secondary education years, many of them upon starting their tertiary studies still find themselves struggling with reading academic texts in English due to their lack of vocabulary knowledge (Hui, 2004; Joyce, 2003; Li, 2008; Nurweni & Read, 1999; Ward 2009). However, the reason for this difficulty in comprehending texts at the tertiary level may not only be due to the students' poor vocabulary size but also specifically to the types of words they had been exposed to and learned through written texts such as their English language teaching (ELT) school textbooks.


Employing a methodology based on the premise that L1 language use can serve as a model for L2 vocabulary learning, the present study will analyse the vocabulary occurring in L1 core subject science textbooks which aim to prepare Year 11 and 12 students in Australia for the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education (SSCE) exams which in general must be taken to obtain the certificate of graduation and continue one's education in a subject (e.g physics) at the tertiary level. Specifically, the study aims to identify the most frequent words occurring across the textbooks and investigate how these words could be presented in ELT materials/pedagogy for university-bound EFL secondary school students so that they would be exposed to and thus given opportunities to acquire at least partial knowledge of the vocabulary necessary to cope successfully with academic texts in English at the tertiary level.



Hui, D. (2004). Reflections on vocabulary size of Chinese university students. International Education Journal, 5(4), 571-581.

Joyce, P. (2003). The breadth of vocabulary learning at a Japanese university. KOTESOL Proceedings, 171-182.

Li, J. (2008). Metacognitive knowledge, vocabulary size and EFL reading comprehension of Chinese tertiary students. Doctor of Philosophy in Education, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

Nurweni, A., & Read, J. (1999). The English vocabulary knowledge of Indonesian university students. English for Specific Purposes, 18(2), 161-175.

Ward, J. (2009). EAP reading and lexis for Thai engineering undergraduates. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 8, 294-301.


Warren Matsuoka is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney. He has previously taught English in Tokyo, Taipei and Sydney and has also tutored 'Literacy and Language Teaching' for the Masters of Education (TESOL) program here at the University of Sydney.


Conference presentations:

  • Matsuoka, W. (2010). Vocabulary development in an EFL context: Defining a model for China. TESOL Research Network Colloquium. The University of Sydney, 23 October 2010.
  • Matsuoka, W. (2009). Vocabulary learning through reading: Does an ELT course book provide good opportunities? TESOL Research Network Colloquium. The University of Sydney, 5 September 2009.



  • Thomas and Ethel Mary Ewing Scholarship in Education 2010

  • Alexander Mackie Research Fellowship 2011

  • Postgraduate Research Support Scheme Fund 2011

Thesis work

Project title Degree Supervisor
Creating word lists to inform ELT pedagogy PhD Dr David Hirsh

Selected publications

Book chapters

  • Matsuoka, W. (2012). Searching for the right words: Creating word lists to inform EFL learning. In Hirsh, D. (Ed.), Current Perspectives in Second Language Vocabulary Research (pp. 151–177), Bern: Peter Lang.

Journal articles

  • Matsuoka, W., & Hirsh, D. (2010). Vocabulary learning through reading: Does an ELT course book provide good opportunities?. Reading in a Foreign Language, 22(1), 56–70.