One of the hardest parts of writing essays in English is using appropriate academic vocabulary. Academic English is not the same as everyday spoken English and even British students need to work at developing a good academic style and tone to their writing. A large part of this academic genre is academic vocabulary. I have said before that general reading is important to language development, but it is not enough. You also need to STUDY - by which I mean consciously learning new words, seeing how they are used, using strategies to remember them and then testing yourself on them. Today I want to show you a great link to help you improve your academic vocabulary. Here's the link which is from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. You will find about 500 of the most useful academic words used in English. The great thing about this webpage is that everything is set up for you already. You can follow a link to get a definition of the word from a big list of dictionaries. You can click on the example sentences link to see lots of examples sentences which use this particular word. These example sentences are generated using something called a concordancer. A concordancer is software which finds examples of a particular word and shows all the examples in a long list. Finally, if you are a Chinese speaker you will be able to make use of the translation link in the last column on this page.
One final note about concordancers for those of you who may be interested in them. When the computer searches through language to find examples of words the computer needs to be told where to search. It searches through a body of language called a corpus, which may be fed into the computer, or may be accessed through the Internet. If you searched through the The Times newspaper you would get different examples of how words are used compared to how they are used in a novel. So if you want to change the corpus which the computer searches through go here. This page comes from the same institution. Enter your word you want to search for in the empty white box at the top of the page and then choose which corpus you want the computer to search through (click on the corpus link in the first line to see a description of each corpus) and then press the search button and you'll get lots of examples of sentences using your word. Wow!