How to learn academic English well?

How to learn academic English well?
  • September 3 2021
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IA – One of the reasons that hinders students from acquiring knowledge of subjects in English is having not mastered academic vocabulary and specialized terms. So how to learn academic English well?

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The importance of academic English

Academic vocabulary is the system of English words used in academic settings, specifically in documents and books, and affects nearly all skills such as discussion, presentation, and essay writing, reports, etc. Especially for students who are studying international – bilingual – integrated programs, academic English plays a huge role in acquiring knowledge from teachers and books, and as a means to demonstrate their understanding through presentations or essays. Therefore, building a solid academic vocabulary will help you absorb specialized knowledge comprehensively and apply all academic skills in the learning process. However, grasping academic English well will not be easy, even for those who already have basic English. The reason academic English makes it difficult for students to absorb is that for each different major, there are countless different academic vocabulary and many words that learners cannot translate in the context of English normally and it is not possible to understand the exact definition. For example, the word “Potential” normally means “that can develop into something or be developed in the future”, but in Physics in English, “Potential Energy” means “An object can store energy as the result of its position”. Or the word “Tissue”, which normally means “a piece of soft paper, used especially as a handkerchief”, but in Biology in English, it means “a collection of cells that form the different parts of humans, animals, and plants”. Therefore, students not only have to memorize basic vocabulary but also need to distinguish common and specialized semantics suitable for each subject in different English. So how to learn academic English well in the most effective and scientific way?

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How to learn academic English well?

  • Improving academic vocabulary through reading skills: The method of using reading comprehension to supplement academic English is actually not too different from the normal way of learning English. If you often learn English communication based on different topics, learning academic vocabulary also requires you to spend time reading a lot of materials related to each topic. Assuming you need to accumulate vocabulary for Economics, when you read an article or short news about an economic issue, you will see the vocabulary system used in the sentences of the lesson, the way it analyzes, explains, points out, and solves problems. This way of learning makes you memorize vocabulary faster and more naturally, and even learn other useful skills besides new vocabulary. When learning academic vocabulary, memorizing it mechanically is not enough, you need to memorize that word in any context, from which you will learn how to use the word depending on the situation and context used to be applied in practice. The sequence of learning academic English through articles and topics is also relatively simple and easy to follow as follows:
    • Select academic resources (via books, internet, ebooks, etc.) in-depth and prestige, then choose the topic you want to practice reading comprehension, choose an article suitable for your level, and skim to get the basics.
    • After you have grasped the main content, you should begin to read deeply by paying attention to the things you do not understand, taking notes of new academic vocabulary, trying to guess the meaning based on the context of the article before using a dictionary.
    • Make a list of specialized vocabulary you have just collected, look up, and record the meaning and usage of the word.
  • Optimal use of academic dictionaries: When choosing the right dictionary for adding academic vocabulary, learners will feel that the acquisition of knowledge is easier and clearer. Typically, the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary of Academic English (OLDAE), can be considered an effective tool for students of any major because, in addition to the usual definitions, students learn specific subjects in English. You can look up semantics that are only relevant to certain specialties. In addition, the frequency of occurrence of ordinary vocabulary will be different from that in academic language. Therefore, if you are not sure if the vocabulary you have just searched for is appropriate for your context, check the accompanying examples in the dictionary to look for similarities.
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  • Practice combining academic sentences: Memorizing and understanding academic vocabulary you have encountered in a text is one thing, using it in the context of your own writing is quite another. You need to know how to combine this word with other words in a sentence and how to structure the text properly. Choosing the right grammatical structure and effectively using “collocation” will help your essay have a more natural and accurate presentation of what you want to convey.
  • Improve subject usage: To improve objectivity, students should start sentences with objective words such as “It” or “There”. With the subject “It”, you will limit the use of subjective subjects such as “I”, “We”, etc. and instead of a general hypothetical subject. For the subjunctive subject “There”, if you memorize and flexibly use nouns, adjectives, adverbs combined with “There”, your writing will be more academic and professional when combined with academic English vocabulary.
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