Text analysis of “Greening the Old House” isolating the 2000 most common words, Academic Word List and unlisted words

Below is an analysis of an article, “Greening the Old House” from the 2010 CET-4 exam. The original of this article, dated April 2009, was taken from the American news magazine,Time.

Lexical researchers have isolated some English vocabulary into three groups: most common 1000 words, second most common 1000 words and the Academic Word List. Here we can see a CET-4 reading text where the underlined words (sample) are from the Academic Word List words and words that are not on any list, in other words, the most uncommon words or words most likely to be challenging for our students.

This is significant because it means that we do not need to limit students’ reading to texts they may find boring. If the same CET words can be found in texts about Lady Gaga or Justin Berbeir, Kobe Bryant or a romantic holiday in Paris, then our students can study something interesting and learn the CET words at the same time.

From this list we can get an idea of what vocabulary students may need to learn. However we need to bear in mind that a significant amount of the CET -4 test can be answered correctly without knowing the definition of every word. Much of the test requires simple word match-ups without vocabulary knowledge.

When we think of green buildings, we tend to think of new ones–the kind of high-tech, solar-paneled masterpieces that make the covers of architecture magazines. But the U.S. has more than 100 million existing homes, and it would be incredibly wasteful (not to mention totally unrealistic) to tear them all down and replace them with greener versions. An enormous amount of energy and resources went into the construction of those houses. And it would take an average of 65 years for the reduced carbon emissions from a new energy-efficient home to make up for the resources lost by destroying an old one. So in the broadest sense, the greenest home is the one that has already been built. But at the same time, nearly half of U.S. carbon emissions come from heating, cooling and powering our homes, offices and other buildings. “You can’t deal with climate change without dealing with existing buildings,” says Richard Moe, the president of the National Trust.

With some exceptions, the oldest homes tend to be the least energy-efficient. Houses built before 1939 use about 50% more energy per square foot than those built after 2000, mainly due to the tiny cracks and gaps that expand over time and let in more outside air.

Fortunately, there are a vast number of relatively simple changes that can green older homes, from historic ones like Lincoln’s Cottage to your own postwar home. And efficiency upgrades can save more than just the earth; they can help protect property owners from rising power costs.

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