What is the Oxford Wordlist?

In 2007, Oxford University Press conducted an investigation of high-frequency words in young children’s writing and reading development in Australian schools. The Oxford Wordlist is a product of this research. The Oxford Wordlist includes the 500 most frequently used words by children in their first three years of school.

   Developed by Australian experts for Australian schools

   The most used wordlist in Australian Primary schools

   Allows teachers to customise wordlists for targeted teaching

   Wordlist is integrated into Oxford's literacy resources

   Helps improve students' reading and writing outcomes

10 years on: the Oxford Wordlist is updated!

About the research

The latest Oxford Wordlist research study was conducted in 2017 in Australian schools and compares data with the first Oxford Wordlist research released 10 years ago, in 2007. This new Oxford Wordlist provides an updated list of high frequency words for writing and reading.

The new Oxford Wordlist includes the 500 most frequently used words by children in their first three years of school. We’ve examined these word choices against the same demographic criteria used in the first research conducted 10 years ago, and explored what these word choices indicate about how children’s identities and social experiences have changed in the past decade.

Here is a preview of some of the words that are in and out!

What’s in What’s out
  • Ten years on, the first 11 words are the same, but they are in a slightly different order.
  • The word computer no longer features, perhaps because of increased tablet and smart phone usage.
  • Boys use contractions such as can’t and that’s more frequently than girls.
  • A move away from the more formal hello to the less formal greeting hi.
  • More informal language is included, for example: super, awesome, amazing, crazy, stuff.


  • Encouragingly for teachers, the words books and reading have made the list. (The word read was in the 2007 Oxford Wordlist*).


  • The world of make-believe sees boys using words such as ninja, while girls use words such as princess, castle, fairy, rainbow and unicorn.


Oxford Wordlist is integrated into Oxford’s resources

This Oxford Wordlist research informs Oxford University Press’ local Primary publishing. The latest Oxford Wordlist is an integral feature of our new reading program, Oxford Reading for Comprehension and features in our early years dictionaries, personal dictionaries, and the Oxford Handwriting series.

Customise your own Oxford Wordlist

Our FREE interactive Oxford Wordlist tool allows teachers to access frequently used words according to a range of demographic characteristics. By selecting characteristics most relevant to students in your classrooms, you can create customised Wordlists for early readers and writers, using these lists to plan relevant programs and determine those words most likely to allow all students to engage with the curriculum.

Build your own Wordlist

“In the Australian Curriculum a strong emphasis is placed on acknowledging the words students already have in their spoken repertoires. Teachers must intentionally expand their vocabularies, however, by teaching new words and this needs to start from the first year at school. This spoken vocabulary development has a symbiotic relationship with listening, reading, and writing (spelling).The more words students speak, the better placed they are to understand what others are saying, to know the meanings of words when they are reading, and to start using their burgeoning vocabularies in their writing.”

Anne Bayetto, Wordlist 2018 researcher


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