Paul Nation

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Paul Nation is an American-New Zealander leading language teaching methodology and vocabulary acquisition linguist researcher, mainly for English as a foreign language.


He has taught in Indonesia, Thailand, the United States, Finland, and Japan. He is Emeritus Professor in the School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.[1] Nation was featured on the along with John Read in an article entitled How many words do you need to speak a language?[2]


Key concepts of his works are word frequency lists as guidelines to vocabulary acquisition, the learning burden of a word, the need to teach learning strategies to students in order to increase their autonomy in vocabulary expansion for low-frequency items, support to extensive reading of accessible texts (≥95-98% of known words), the usefulness of L2L1 tools (dictionaries, word cards) for their clarity. After the communicative approach of the 80's, his works have been instrumental for second language courses design and current teaching methods, relying mainly on fast vocabulary acquisition of frequent words.[3] Together with Batia Laufer, James Coady, Norbert Schmitt, Paul Meara, Rebecca Oxford, Michael Swan, his position is linked to Stephen Krashen's Natural approach (emphasis on frequent grammatical and lexical items first) and to the proposed Lexical approach (emphasis on vocabulary) of language teaching.[4] At a larger level, he is also known for his position emphasises having a balance of learning opportunities including the 'four strands' approach to language courses and classes (Taylor 2004, Nation & Newton 2008), with study time devoted to about 25% each of:

  1. input from reading and listening,
  2. output through writing and speaking,
  3. formal language learning, i.e. grammar and vocabulary, and
  4. practice for fluency in all four of the basic skills.


  1. ^ Victoria University. School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies. Staff Directory. [1]
  2. ^ "How many words do you need to speak a language?". Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  3. ^ (Horst 2010, pp. 161)
  4. ^ (Coady 1997, pp. 1–17)



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