Scaling up of proactive online interactive support and accelerated academic English development using Vocabulary Expansion Accelerator (VEA) for English-language learners (ELL) and others with similar academic English needs

Scaling Up of Proactive Online Interactive Support and Accelerated Academic English Development using Vocabulary Expansion Accelerator (VEA) for English Language Learners (ELL) and others with similar Academic English needs


With limited vocabulary, reading and composing skills, many English-language Learners (ELLs) face severe language challenges that make learning extremely difficult and even stressful. Unable to communicate with others socially or speak up in class, many feel isolated. Addressing their language needs helps retention, the quality of the student experience, and the University’s internationalization goals. The Vocabulary Expansion Accelerator (VEA) software has successfully demonstrated that it can be used by students to help them significantly expand and refine their their active vocabulary within a year. The project will support the development of a scalable solution to empower our students to self-train using their respective course readings and self-assess their vocabulary progress towards the goal of achieving competency in the 10,000 word family. The goal is to (a) produce video-clips and educational material based on data from analytics, research literature and students’ experiences of significant improvements to inspire better use of VEA by faculty, TAs and students; (b) establish a robust calibrated Language Challenge item bank for formative self-assessment and (c) a summative self-assessment tool. VEA can be also be offered to admitted students to develop better Academic English before arrival. Since the use of this tool is self-customizable according to own ability level and course of study, a wider uptake of VEA will contribute to five LEAF theme areas and can serve all three campuses.


Department of Computational and Mathematical Sciences, and the Centre for Teaching and Learning, University of Toronto Scarborough

Project lead(s)

Professor Elaine Khoo, Centre for Teaching and Learning, University of Toronto Scarborough;

Professor Sohee Kang, Department of Computational and Mathematical Sciences, and the Centre for Teaching and Learning, University of Toronto Scarborough.

Year LEAF Granted


Funding Stream


LEAF Priority Area(s)

Learning Systems
Digital Learning


Impact of the Project on Students

Students can continue to improve their English Language Skills as they progress through their undergraduate education. Students may also have access to the VEA tool after their admission, prior to joining the university in order to work on their English language skills.