Using English at university

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Using English at university

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Are you studying at a British university? Do you understand the lectures and the texts you read? Do you have to write essays or give presentations in English? Finn and Neil talk about academic English and give you some tips in this 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.

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 Do join us again for more 6 Minute Vocabulary.

Both Bye!

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