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You may be confident in using English in everyday situations, but the kind of English you need for study is rather different. It is what is known as ‘academic English’ and is the type of English you need for

  • reading and understanding your study materials
  • writing about your subject.

Academic English is different from everyday spoken English. It may be used to

  • describe an object or situation
  • describe a process or how something works
  • explain something.

Much of academic English is about expressing the relationship between ideas.

Although the language may be more complex than in everyday English, good academic writers aim to be as clear, precise and simple as possible. They think about what their readers know already, and aim to guide them towards less familiar areas and topics.

Developing your academic English

The ability to write in an academic style is something you develop as part of your university study. It is difficult to give overall ‘rules’ on the way to write for a university course, as academic subjects vary in

  • their vocabulary and expressions
  • the types of text used (for instance essays, reports, research articles or summaries)
  • how these texts are structured and organised.

In the next activity,  What is academic English like? you will examine in more detail the features of academic English.