Don’t forget Gerry Luton’s Academic English Vocabulary Exercises!

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One very important aspect of Academic English is using academic words rather than everyday English words. Rather than saying:

There  are many students from China in UK universities.

It would sound far better to say:

Chinese students have an increasingly high profile in UK universities.

How will you learn how to use academic words like ‘profile’? My suggestion is that you visit Gerry Luton’s Academic English Vocabulary Exercises website regularly for free academic language practice here.

Plymouth city centre shops score own goal!

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Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear! I couldn’t quite believe my ears when I heard a news report on the local radio station that shops in Plymouth wanted to curb the number of foreign students in city centre shops to fight crime. Is this the WELCOME sign that we British want to put out to students around the world to encourage students to come and study in the UK?? I found the story in the national press too and I was delighted at the number of people who responded to the article by saying what nonsense it was. Actually, I think the whole story was a bit of a mistake and the plan was never really a plan at all, but an idea from one idiot and then it became public knowledge…..You can read about the story in the national paper The Guardian here. Make sure you read the comments under the story so you know that in Plymouth we’re all very friendly folks!

Meanwhile, don’t forget about getting a free subscription to Newsademic through English for University. Com. Newsademic is an easy-to-read newspaper for English language learners. Reading regularly in English is an excellent way to improve your language skills. When you have subscribed and you get your PDF e mailed to you if I were you I would print it out, staple it together, and leave it lying around the place. Carry it around in your bag. Read it on the bus. Read it while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil. You will learn a lot about sentence structure, punctuation and vocabulary as you read casually while you are thinking about the story and not your language. Read a bit more about Newsademic here and then sign up for your free subscription here!

Using Business English to find a job

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(The following guest post comes courtesy of Gisele Navarro Mendez of Content Lobby)

Making the transition to becoming a fully fledged member of the English-speaking business world can be unnerving. Sympathetic and patient teachers are replaced by shrewd human resources managers or hard-nosed business consultants. Nevertheless, with the right preparation, securing a job is a very achievable goal.

Useful vocabulary

The process of finding a job -from reading advertisements for vacancies through to compiling a CV and covering letter- involves being able to make use of a specific vocabulary. Don’t be afraid of taking extra business English lessons to ensure a thorough understanding of potentially difficult terms.

For example, a typical job advertisement might include the following words or phrases:

Word/sMeaning
Communication skillsA good ability to interact with people
ReliableSomeone who is dependable and trustworthy
Having a working knowledge of somethingPossessing a basic understanding of a subject
Having a clean driving licencePossessing a driving licence with no record of illegal driving
Managing a budgetAn ability to ensure a fixed amount of money is wisely spent
Being keen to do somethingWanting to do something a lot
Work well under pressureThe ability to keep calm and work well in difficult situations

An employer reading through a candidate’s CV will expect to see information relating to the following:

Word/sMeaning
EducationA list of schools and universities attended, as well as any other training and qualifications
Personal detailsName, age, nationality, address and other contact details
ProfileA few lines to summarise the candidate’s relevant positive attributes
Professional experienceList of previous jobs and a brief description of the candidate’s role in each
InterestsActivities carried out in the candidate’s spare time
RefereesTwo or more former employers, teachers or other professionals who are willing to confirm that a candidate is of a high calibre

 

 

 

 

 

Phone conversations

Securing employment often requires one or more phone conversations. For those currently studying at a London school English phone conversations will be a familiar task. Students applying for jobs from outside of the UK may be able to carry out phone calls using Skype, which makes things easier by providing non-verbal cues.

 

Some words and phrases occur more often in phone-based conversations. For example:

Word/sMeaning
Hold onWait
Hang onWait
Hang upPut the phone down
Ring offPut the phone down
Put you throughConnect you to another person
Call backReturn a phone call

Whether it’s calling the company’s secretary to ask for directions or carrying out a phone-based interview, it’s good to err on the side of formality.

Use words such as “could”, “can”, “may” or “would” when making a request and remember to say “please” and “thank you” when asking for and receiving inform

So what is Academic English?

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I often think that teachers are not clear enough to students about what Academic English actually is. So I’ve written a new article for the front page of the website and I’m including it here in this post.

Academic English is the genre of English used in the world of research, study, teaching and universities. If you read an article in an academic journal or listen to someone giving a presentation or a talk about an academic subject in an academic environment, Academic English is probably being used. If you are studying in an English speaking university (or going to) you will need to learn this type of English. Native English speakers also have to learn Academic English too because it is not like the English that is used every day by English speakers. Academic English is different from other types of English and it often has features like these:

  • it uses formal academic language and avoids colloqualisms
  • it usually avoids ‘I’ and is written in the third person and often uses impersonal structures
  • it is objective and impartial
  • it often uses the passive voice
  • it is tentative and cautious
  • there are lots of references to other writers
  • the texts are well structured
  • there are well developed paragraphs which often start with a strong topic sentence
  • there are linking words which give the text cohesion

Here’s the introduction to a journal article written by the author which is an example of written Academic English. The article is called Chinese Voices: Chinese learners and their experiences of studying in the UK.  After the example I will point out some of the features of Academic English mentioned above:

 

Chinese students have an increasingly high profile in UK universities. In 2005 the number of Chinese students in UK universities was put at 50,000 (Higher Education Statistics Agency, 2007). According to Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) (UCAS, 2008) nearly 5,000 Chinese students were accepted to start courses at British universities in autumn 2008, a rise of 14.7 per cent on 2007. However, demographic changes in China and increasing competition from other parts of the globe offering higher education courses mean that the number of students is expected to peak in 2011 (Gill, 2008). As more institutions seek to attract a dwindling number of students we can expect greater competition between universities and a resulting increase in the interest of the student experience. It is vital that institutions listen carefully to the experiences that their Chinese students are living through if they are to continue to attract students in the face of worldwide competition.

Finances aside, simply by virtue of the number of Chinese students in UK universities, the Chinese student voice needs to be heard so we can be sure they are receiving the same opportunities as other students in the university system. Indeed ‘understanding overseas’ students concerns and problems is essential for institutions in counselling, helping their overseas students, and in improving the quality of their services’, (Li & Kaye, 1998, p. 41).

This research employed qualitative research methodology to give a voice to Chinese students whose transcribed experiences are presented in this paper. Specifically the research attempted to answer these questions:

1. What are the main characteristics of the Chinese learner and the Chinese education system?

2. What experiences do Chinese students have of living in the UK?

3. What experiences do Chinese students have of studying in the UK?

(McMahon, P.  Chinese voices: Chinese learners and their experiences of living and studying in the United Kingdom, Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, Vol. 33, No. 4, August 2011, 401–414)

 

In this extract I hope you can see that …

  • it uses formal academic language and avoids colloqualisms
The phrase ‘Chinese students have an increasingly high profile in UK universities’ really means ‘there are more and more Chinese students in UK universities’ but it uses more formal and academic words.
  • it usually avoids ‘I’ and is written in the third person and often uses impersonal structures
The phrase ‘This research employed qualitative research methodology’ is instead of saying ‘I used qualitative research methodology’. Writers usually avoid using ‘I’ in Academic English. ‘Specifically the research attempted to answer these questions’ is another example of using impersonal language.
  • it is objective and impartial
Being objective and impartial means that you have to prove everything you say and you do not have fixed ideas before you start your research.
  • it often uses the passive voice
Here is an example of using the passive voice: ‘nearly 5,000 Chinese students were accepted to start courses at British universities’ whereas in everyday spoken English you might just say ‘5000 Chinese students study in the UK’.
  • it is tentative and cautious
A phrase like  ‘we can expect greater competition’ is cautious or tentative. If you are not cautious you might say something which later proves not to be true. If you are not cautious you might say ‘there will be definitely be greater competition’.
  • there are lots of references to other writers
You can see that there are lots of references to other writers. The writer tells you where he got his information from.
  • the texts are well structured
  • there are well developed paragraphs which often start with a strong topic sentence

These features are difficult to see in this short extract, but the introduction is well written and logical.

  • there are linking words which give the text cohesion
There are some examples of ‘cohesive devices’ such as ‘however’ and ‘indeed’.
The aim of this website is to help you become better at using Academic English. Good luck!