Linking words

It has suddenly gone very quiet! I think lots of people have already started their Christmas holidays but at my university we are still going strong. You still have time to enter the December draw to win a place on a Macmillan Online Advanced English and EAP course. You just have to e mail me to tell me to put your name in the hat. Read more about this opportunity here.

One of the most important features to get right in your academic writing is using linking words correctly. These words make your text cohesive. If you use linking words correctly you will undoubtedly get a better mark for your writing. If you are writing for your English teacher they will appreciate the fact that you are making an effort with your linking words and if the marker is not a language teacher they will just notice that your ideas are being conveyed more effectively because you are guiding the reader around your text.

Here’s an example of a short text with linking words used well:

“An essay comparing and contrasting University education in the USA and Australia

The Western style of education has gained popularity over the last decade. Many foreign students come to countries like Australia and the USA to study at university and improve their employment prospects. In this essay I will briefly compare and contrast these two countries in terms of their appeal to foreign students.
There are many similarities between the two countries. Firstly, they both have a very multicultural population so it is possible to enjoy food from your own country when homesickness arises. Also, as they are both large countries it is possible to find an institution in an area with a climate that suits you. Another similarity is that their tertiary institutions have a reputation of quality and excellence in academia.
On the other hand, there are some appreciable differences. The main one is that education in the USA is much more expensive than in Australia. However, many students think that it is worth paying the extra money as some American universities have a world-wide reputation. Furthermore, as the USA has a much larger population there are a wider range of institutions to choose from and naturally, a wider range of courses.
To sum up, America offers more choice and a more acknowledged reputation, but at a higher cost. Australia offers similar quality but is cheaper if you can find the course that you want.”


Good, isn’t it? One of the reasons it is good is the linking words it uses:   Firstly,  Also, Another similarity is that, On the other hand, Furthermore…

You can improve your mastery of linking words consciously and subconsciously. You should do some exercises which focus on these words and you should read as much as you can in English to see how these words behave in their ‘natural habitat’! Today’s link is to pages on linking words with exercises from RMIT University in Australia  here.