Some Pointers for Building Academic
Students all have different goals they want to
achieve in their English language learning, and if building academic vocabulary
is your goal then you’ll want to do it as easily as possible.
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There are some specific problems you will meet when you want to develop
your academic language and here is some advice to help you.
What to do and what not to do when you are
building academic vocabulary
academic books and journals.
Even though reading fashion
or celebrity magazines may help your everyday English vocabulary, they
won’t do much to help with the specific language you will need for
This can be a problem. Academic articles on the web, textbooks or
research papers will be much more useful to you. Have a dictionary
when you read, and look up words you don’t know.
attention to phrases.
Academic language isn’t just about
individual words. It is about how those words are joined together. Some
people concentrate too much on single words and neglect phrasal verbs,
idioms and collocations.
This can be problematic because you can’t easily practice academic
language in daily life. If you did, people would think you're a little
strange! You can practice writing
though, and you should try writing longer, well constructed essays when
If you don’t have a teacher to check your work, ask a friend. If you
don’t have any friends to ask, then compare your work with articles you
find on the web. But remember that some of the articles on the web
aren’t too good so try and find some from sites with a good reputation.
DO look at
vocabulary to help you organize your writing. Discourse markers
are words which help give signposts to our writing. Examples are, firstly
, in contrast to
If you learn and use these, your writing will be much easier to follow.
the little words.
Prepositions, such as to
, etc are
often forgotten and these are important in academic language (as well
as in general English usage).
Conjunctions are also important. You will be familiar with conjunctions
such as and
etc but you will need to start using more advanced words such as whereas
, in spite of
, and so
on. Pay attention to these when you are reading. Underline them in
texts to concentrate your attention on them, instead of skimming over
Formal vs informal English can be tough to get
right, but academic vocabulary is often much more formal than everyday
For example, you would be more likely to read the word children than
kids in an academic text. When you discover a formal equivalent of a
more informal word you know, then add it to your vocabulary notebook.
the language specific to your subject.
Each subject has
specific language and you should have a section in your vocabulary
notebook for words particular to your subject.
If you read as much as you can, and practice as much as you can, as
well as following the above tips for building academic vocabulary, then
your Academic English should grow and improve.
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