This paper describes a terminological approach to the teaching and learning of fundamental concepts in foundation tertiary units in Statistics and Accounting, using an online dictionary-style resource (TermFinder) with customised termbanks for each discipline. Designed for independent learning, the termbanks support inquiring students from non-English-speaking backgrounds - including international students - in their understanding of the key concepts of their discipline. Two quasi-experimental studies of the use of these termbanks are reported here, showing the difference that they made in the performances of first-year students studying Statistics and Accounting, when compared with those from the previous year before the termbanks were available. In both units, the exam results for the experimental cohorts were significantly better than those of the cohorts in the preceding year. Higher success rates and raised levels of engagement with terminological questions were registered for all students, Australian domestic and international. Individual study patterns emerged in the trial of the accounting termbank, with international students making early use of the termbank with its translation equivalents in Mandarin Chinese, and Australian students more inclined to use it close to the final exam. The testing of the customised termbanks, developed collaboratively by lexicographers and academic staff, vindicates their use in large, diverse classes and their value to students as resources for independent learning. That apart, the research affirms the value of focusing on terminology and the nexus with disciplinary concepts in introductory courses.