Academic writing follow-up post 4

had completely overlooked the existence of (what is for me) the future masterclass on “Writing for Publication” when I related my peer review story. You mention the Flesch Reading Ease. I’ve had six language learning textbooks published, and the publisher requires us to write each text within Flesch reading ease and grade guidelines. This tool is useful in a similar way to Sword’s Waistline Test in that the time taken to adjust the levels of the texts usually helps me see other weaknesses. For actual word-level choice analysis, I use Paul Nation’s free Range program (Nation, n.d.). With this software, users can compare their texts with the vocabulary targeted at particular levels. For example, if an author wants to produce a text that can be read by learners who only know around 1000 words, the software compares the text with the first 1000 words typically used in English. Of course, there are issues with this approach. In Japan, the first 1000 words taught in middle and high schools does not match Nation’s list which is based on native speaker frequency, the General Service List and the Academic Word List. I have ploughed through some Japanese/ English dictionaries for those first 1000 taught words. I can compare my texts with my target word lists using Range.

You write, “It is helpful to write sentences of a length between 30 to 40 words.” I would prefer instead to follow the advice supposedly uttered by Einstein that “everything should be as simple as it can be but not simpler”. How long is a piece of string?


Nation, P. (n.d.) Vocabulary resources for download. University of Wellington. Retrieved on October 7, 2015 from

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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