I have a number of fluent English speakers in my Academic English classes who have not grasped the difference between general English and Academic English. I can think of people who have learnt English at international schools, or language schools, or from their boyfriends and girlfriends, and they can chat quite comfortably in English. But, they cannot give an adequate academic presentation because they do not appreciate the ‘genre’ of academic English! One important aspect of Academic English is using academic vocabulary rather than colloquial language. Luckily there are lots of free online exercises available to help you improve your usage of academic English words. I have been looking at some of these exercises by Dominic Cole.
I’ve linked to Dominic Cole’s site before, but I particularly like his exercises on words from the Academic Word List. The useful thing about these exercises is that when he looks at a word he looks at what other words go with it. Here’s an example exercise he has on the word ‘context’:
1. We need to examine this problem _________ the context of mass immigration.
2. It is important not to _________ sight of the context.
3. It is unfair to quote someone _________ context.
4. The _________ context is all important here.
5. The issue of mass immigration has to be ___________ in context.
Fill the gaps using these words: historical, lose, in, out of, seen
This exercise shows the learner that the word ‘context’ is used a variety of ways, such as:
…..in the context of …….
…..out of context.
When you learn a word you have to learn about its natural environment – what other words it lives with!
Follow the link and scroll down the page to find Dominic’s exercises on the Academic Word List here.