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General and specialist vocabulary knowledge as predictors of academic success in EMI university programs

  • Ahmed Masrai EMAIL logo , Dina Abdel Salam El-Dakhs and Hisham Al Khawar


The current study aimed to examine the contribution of general and specialist vocabulary knowledge to undergraduate students’ academic achievement in university courses which are delivered in English as a medium of instruction (EMI) in non-English speaking countries. To this end, the scores of 106 Arab undergraduates on a general vocabulary test (GVT) and on a computer science specialist vocabulary test (CSSVT) were examined in comparison with their final grades on a university-level computer science course, which they studied in English. The results showed a significant and positive correlation between the students’ scores on the GVT and the CSSVT and their final course grades. Additionally, it was found that the combined scores of the two tests can explain 16.1% of the variance in the students’ final course grades. Hence, the general and specialist vocabulary knowledge can predict students’ academic achievement in EMI courses. The results are discussed in relation to the existing literature. Pedagogical implications are presented and directions for future research are recommended.

Corresponding author: Ahmed Masrai, Prince Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University, Al-Kharj, Saudi Arabia, E-mail:

Appendix A

General vocabulary test (GVT)

This test is designed to measure your receptive vocabulary knowledge of general English words.

Please look at the words in the table. Some of these words are real English words and some are used as control words. Be aware that Yes responses to the control words are penalized. Please tick (✓) the words that you know or can use. Here is an example. cat ✓

*Note: your overall score will be strongly affected if you tick non-existing words.

admit modern atmosphere celebrity facet silent okenite
resistance worry earn prison helmet comprehend oxpecker
cover meeting skirt translate spell collaborate fluerics
dark centre crystal agency paradise entrance ouabian
animal another profile housing hormone distract shallon
directly extent rescue lake struggle react atacamate
side warn eager pilot entirely laundry compacta
sign honey division bowl autonomy royal desmolysis
border heritage slowly retain appetite territory pisote
language size reserve expense bullet considerable garefowl
concern council complete dose multiple champion hominal
complain clothes spirit progressive balance president intocostrin
familiar pollution vacation aisle grocery hole manroot
command suit pulse flower inclusion studio ominate
announce Jet protest dealer blanket wipe panela
employee budget socially intention passage jealous tinsey
creature travel urban afford exciting novelty vervelle
respect peak deficit faculty therapy lock typicon
guideline emotional gesture trust formation wheat tholos

Appendix B

Computer-science vocabulary size test (CSVST)

This test is designed to measure your receptive knowledge of Computer-Science vocabulary.

Please look at the words in the table. Some of these words are real English computer-science words and some are used as control words. Be aware that Yes responses to the control words are penalized. Please tick (✓) the words that you know or can use. Here is an example: computer ✓

*Note: your overall score will be strongly affected if you tick non-existing words.

base collaborate interface intersect browse calculus kef
chip column regress anomaly encode synchronize corium
feed database tag mutate decentralize encrypt palar
health module compiler transparent vector integer agoura
internet vulnerable matrix thermal decompose artefact banausic
load correlate simulations wireless microprocessor autonomic decoupage
web software configure degrade rout inductive octroy
band digital fraction multimedia substrate debug cuticula
bug infect destination serial calibrate orthogonal forepost
fetch scan subscribe prone overlay automation pikake
identify function compress default auxiliary histogram greylag
port probe diameter sensor decode ontology arguendo
process platform residue query template binominal clowder
accelerate segment magnitude disseminate algebra vertex punctum
authorise optic spectrum optimise corollary ethernet hypostase
budget rotate retrieve contraction byte metadata nosean
cell forum cellular augment syntax overflow civilite
circuit vertical trivial radius kernel virtualize insilicate
cluster span batch emulate annotate wavelet endexine


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Received: 2021-08-19
Accepted: 2022-02-25
Published Online: 2022-06-09
Published in Print: 2022-05-25

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