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Session 1

Have you ever had to write an essay in English? Even if you are able to communicate well in English, writing in an academic style can be quite a challenge. We're here to help you!

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Activity 1

6 Minute Vocabulary

Using English at university 

If you are going to study or you are studying at an English-speaking university, you might be wondering how you'll cope with understanding lectures and academic texts and writing essays. Finn and Neil give you some tips in 6 Minute Vocabulary

 

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Neil
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Vocabulary. I'm Neil and…

Finn
...I'm Finn. Today's programme is all about academic English.

Neil
If you are going to study or you are studying at an English-speaking university, you might be wondering how you'll cope with understanding lectures and academic texts…

Finn
…and writing essays.

Neil
Yes. Academic English is different to the English people speak and write every day…

Finn
It's more formal and uses higher level words. So in today's programme, we'll give you ideas for understanding words and phrases that you'll come across…

Neil
…and some advice for writing essays and giving presentations.

Finn
We'll also give you tips for studying in English… But first, let's look at three main features of academic English: difficult English vocabulary...

Neil
…specialist subject vocabulary…

Finn
…and language for organising essays and presentations.

Neil
Now when you come across a word you don't know in an academic text or lecture, you can try to guess its meaning by looking at the context…

Finn
…or by seeing if the word looks like a word in your own language.

Neil
This is a particularly useful strategy if your own language has lots of words from Greek or Latin as many of the words used in academic English come from those languages. Words, for example, like microscopic, which means tiny, or analysis, which means study…

Finn
…or regeneration, which means renewal.

Neil
Another strategy for working out the meaning is to look at how a word is constructed. Academic English words often have prefixes and suffixes.

Finn
Remember, a prefix comes before the main part of the word and can change a word's meaning. For example, the prefix de, spelt d-e, means removing something, or reversing something.

Neil
So, de-population means a reduction in the number of people somewhere, and de-forestation means clearing of trees from an area.

Finn
Suffixes are attached to the end of words.A common suffix in English is -ise, spelt i-s-e. Examples of words with -ise are stabilise, characterise and specialise. And these words are spelt with –ize in American English.

Neil
That's right, they are. Now another common suffix is -ate, spelt a-t-e. Words with this suffix are differentiate and duplicate.

Finn
Specialist subject words may also cause difficulty. Now you can help yourself in two ways: Firstly, prepare yourself before lectures. Find some texts on your subject, on the internet or in journals and magazines, and study the recurring specialist words in those texts.

Neil
Yes, and to help yourself with this get hold of an English-English dictionary, and an English subject dictionary – for example of Medicine, or Law, or Linguistics.

Finn
And secondly, listen to English radio and watch TV – now there are lots of specialist features which can help improve both your general and specialist English – and of course the BBC website has sections which have stories on technology, and science, and arts, which can also help.

Neil
When writing your academic piece or giving a presentation, you will need to structure and organise your writing or presentation by using signposting language.

Finn
You use signposts to indicate important parts of your essay such as stating its purpose, its structure, your views, the main points, and the direction of the argument and conclusions at the end as well.

Neil
Linking words and phrases show connections between sentences and paragraphs.

Finn
Yes, so Neil, let's give some examples of signposts. Firstly, for starting a piece of writing...

Neil
The aim of this study is to…
This essay argues that…

Finn
Yes. And how about for ending it…

Neil
Finally…
In conclusion…

Finn
And some examples of linking words and phrases are…

Neil
First(ly), … second(ly), … finally,

Finn
And for adding something, you could write…

Neil
In addition, … furthermore, …

Finn
And if you want to show contrast, you might write…

Neil
... however, … nevertheless, … on the other hand, …

IDENT
6 Minute Vocabulary from BBC Learning English.

Finn
And now for some tips for getting the best out of studying in English.

Neil
OK, here's a good one. Have a study buddy – that's someone you can study with. You can test each other and support each other.

Finn
And another one, set aside time for regular language study in addition to your academic study.

Neil
Time for a quiz. Complete the sentences. Number one: Many words in academic English come from a) Latin words, b) American words or c) newspapers?

Finn
It's a) Latin words. Now question two: A good way to start an essay is a) for example, b) in conclusion or c) this essay argues that?

Neil
And it's c) this essay argues that.

Finn
And the last question is: A good way to end an essay is a) on the other hand, b) in conclusion or c) this essay argues that?

Neil
And the answer is b) in conclusion. There's more about this at bbclearningenglish.com. Do join us again for more 6 Minute Vocabulary.

Both
Bye!

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Vocabulary

microscopic
analysis
regeneration
depopulation
deforestation
stabilise
characterise
specialise
differentiate
duplicate

Signposting language

Starting
The aim of this study is to …
This essay argues that …
The main questions addressed in this paper are …
This paper begins by … It will then go on to … Finally, …

Ending
Finally, …
In conclusion, …

Linking words and phrases

Listing: First(ly),… Second(ly),… Finally,…

Adding: In addition,… Furthermore,…

Showing contrast: However,… Nevertheless,… On the other hand,… 
 
Giving a reason: For this reason,… because… because of… due to…

Indicating result or consequence: Therefore,… Thus,… As a result,… Consequently,…

Giving examples: For example,… For instance,… To exemplify,…

Next

We hope you feel more confident when you use English to write essays and presentations. Next, more on academic English and some activities to test you.

Session Vocabulary

  • Vocabulary
    microscopic
    analysis
    regeneration
    depopulation
    deforestation
    stabilise
    characterise
    specialise
    differentiate
    duplicate

    Signposting language

    Starting
    The aim of this study is to …
    This essay argues that …
    The main questions addressed in this paper are …
    This paper begins by … It will then go on to … Finally, …

    Ending
    Finally, …
    In conclusion, …

    Linking words and phrases

    Listing: First(ly), … Second(ly), … Finally, …

    Adding: In addition, … Furthermore, …

    Showing contrast: However, … Nevertheless, … On the other hand, …

    Giving a reason: For this reason, … because … because of … due to …

    Indicating result or consequence: Therefore, … Thus, … As a result, … Consequently, …

    Giving examples: For example, … For instance, … To exemplify, …