How to Create a Field-Related Glossary

by , under field-related glossaries, For teachers, Vocabulary, Writing skills

In your B-Block college ESL course, you are required to use English words related to your program or field-of-study in your writing and speaking. In order to do that, you must spend some time finding specialized terminology in English to assist you in explaining field related concepts to an audience of non-experts. There are few things to remember before you begin.

Your program may encompass multiple fields of study. Social Science students, for example, learn Business, Psychology, Sociology, History, etc. In contrast, a student studying Diagnostic Imaging and a student in Nursing have programs that correspond to specialized fields of study but share the broader field of Medicine. However narrowly or broadly you choose to define your field of study, you should develop your own glossary. To succeed in this task, therefore, you will need to develop and demonstrate considerable learner autonomy.

If you have not taken any courses in your program yet, it will be difficult for you to know where to begin. For some students, it will be appropriate to create a glossary of niche market items related to your content marketing goals. For students intending to pursue further studies, it might be more appropriate to pick a field of study related to a general education course. French Literature, Philosophy, and even Physical Education employ highly specialized terminology.

Do not try to create a glossary of everyday vocabulary and pretend that it is field-related. For example, the word “dog,” defined as “a domesticated carnivorous mammal” is not sufficiently specialized to include in a glossary, even for students of Veterinary Medicine. Everyone knows the word, so its inclusion in a glossary in pointless. However, the semi-technical term “dog,” defined as “a rail spike for fixing rails to railroad ties,” could be an appropriate term for a glossary because its specialized use will be unfamiliar to non-experts. Here are some suggestions for finding words to include in your glossary.

Step one.

Search for your field with a search engine. Use the name of the field of study and the word “wiki.” Search engines usually return a Wikipedia entry at the top of the list of search results. Open that link in a new tab (click the mouse wheel on the link to open a new tab) and look for technical terms within the article. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and open the reference links provided. One or more of these links are likely to provide you with a sufficiently specialized text containing field-related vocabulary.

Step two.

Copy a portion of your Wikipedia article or one of the articles referenced at the bottom of the page and run it through the vocabulary checker on Note down the words and phrases it extracts from the text and the fields of study it associates with it. BUse your best judgement to decide if a word in your text is really related to your field or not.

Step three.

Make a short list of field-related vocabulary items, and use those items in a second Google search to locate articles containing those keywords. Google limits the number of search terms to about 30 words. Are the articles containing those keywords related to your field of study? If so, skim through the article for more key concepts and terminology that you can include in a glossary.

Step four.

List the words related to your field of study. Make sure to capitalize terms only if they are normally capitalized. For example, Psycholinguistics is normally capitalized because it is the name of a field of study. The word language is not because it is a common noun.

Step five.

Next to each word, write a definition of the term as if it were a complete sentence. Search Google by typing “define:” and the word you wish to define. If you use the Google definition, remember to capitalize the first word and end with a period as if it were a sentence. However, definitions are usually sentence fragments. They do not contain conjugated verbs. Whatever you do, do not try to define the word yourself. If Google proves unhelpful, look for a link to an online glossary for your field of study on

Step six.

Publish your glossary online using an HTML glossary code template on your blog. Use the name of your field of study in the title of your glossary blog post like, “Police Technology Glossary” or “Glossary of Terms for Medical Imaging.” Do a Google search using the word “define” + the word you want to be defined. Then switch to the HTML mode of your blogging platform and define your vocabulary list using the web standard. Google and other search engines will put your glossary high up in the search results if your posts are standard compliant. Use <dl> and </dl> to contain your definition list. Use <dt> and </dt> to contain each term. Use <dd> and </dd> to contain the definition of the preceding term.

HTML glossary code

More blogging ideas

For more blog post ideas, click here. For great reasons ESL students should blog, go here. For a ESL textbook that can help you learn to blog and develop your digital literacy, try Actively Engaged Online.

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