Check your academic English skills

Report
Check your academic English
skills
We will identify the features of written
academic English which commonly cause
problems for students, and suggest how
you can improve your grammar,
punctuation, spelling and vocabulary.
How to annoy your lecturers
• Christine Sinclair asked a group of lecturers
from different subjects what really annoyed
them about students’ grammar and language,
and the following were their ten pet hates:
(Sinclair, C. (2007) Grammar: A Friendly
Approach, Maidenhead: Open University
Press/Mcgraw-Hill Education. p. 3)
Students’ grammar and language use:
Lecturers’ top 10 pet hates 1-5
• Using apostrophes wrongly
• Confusing common words, for example
there/their
• Making spelling errors
• Using informal language
• Writing sentences without verbs
Students’ grammar and language use:
Lecturers’ top 10 pet hates 6-10
•
•
•
•
•
Making every sentence a paragraph
Not using paragraphs
Writing long convoluted sentences
Trying to write too pompously
Using run-on sentences/ comma splices
Christine Sinclair’s advice
• “It’s not your fault if you were not taught
grammar at school. It is important to try and
get it right now though.
• The same grammatical errors keep coming up
in students’ essays. It is useful to know what
these are so that you can take steps to avoid
them.”
(Sinclair 2007, p. 7)
The apostrophe of possession:
some examples of misuse or omission
• Russians are given a six point suspended
deduction from their next two qualifying
campaigns after fans improper behaviour.
• However, Gidden’s (1993) pointed out that the
interpretive approach is tied too tightly to
philosophical principles.
• In these circumstances I feel the organisation is
doing the government work.
• Client’s records were kept safely locked away.
• The author’s present interesting new evidence.
The apostrophe of possession
Corrections
• Russians are given a six point suspended
deduction from their next two qualifying
campaigns after fans’ improper behaviour.
• However, Giddens (1993) pointed out that the
interpretive approach is tied too tightly to
philosophical principles.
• In these circumstances I feel the organisation is
doing the government’s work.
• Clients’ records were kept safely locked away.
• The authors present interesting new evidence.
The apostrophe of possession
Rules (1)
• The house of John – John’s house
• The friend of my cousin – my cousin’s friend
• The car of Mr Jones - Mr Jones’s car
• You add ‘s to singular nouns (John’s, cousin’s,
Mr Jones’s)
The apostrophe of possession
Rules (2)
• The books of the students – the students’ books
• The coats of the men – the men’s coats
• The liberation of women – women’s liberation
• You add an ‘ to regular plural nouns (students’)
• You add an ‘s to irregular plural nouns (men’s,
women’s)
The comma splice
• This is when clauses are joined by a comma
when they should be divided into sentences.
• Residents were already playing snooker, this
suggested that they have a choice of morning
activities.
• Residents were already playing snooker. This
suggested that they have a choice of morning
activities.
• Residents were already playing snooker, which
suggested that they have a choice of morning
activities.
Run-on sentences
• If you have two verbs and two subjects, you need
to avoid running them together.
• The organisation recognises that there are groups
in society that are discriminated against however
their practices ensure that applicants are treated
fairly.
• The organisation recognises that there are groups
in society that are discriminated against.
However, their practices ensure that applicants
are treated fairly.
Writing sentences without verbs –
some examples of sentence fragments
• A large television on the wall, a snooker table and
a colourful poster in a corner.
• There was a large television on the wall, and a
snooker table and colourful poster in a corner.
• As well as indirect discrimination, for example
when a requirement or condition is applied with
a negative effect on a particular group.
• This organisation also avoids indirect
discrimination, as, for example, when a
requirement or condition is applied with a
negative effect on a particular group.
Making every sentence a paragraph, or
not using paragraphs
• A paragraph has:
• A single topic
• A topic sentence expressing the main idea of the
paragraph
• Supporting sentences, which provide the
evidence for the topic sentence
• A concluding sentence with a final comment on
the topic.
Paragraphing – an example
The future of London’s airports is once
more becoming a contested issue. The airport
owners, the airlines and businesses have been
pressing for a discussion. The regional
airports have also stated their view recently.
Communities likely to be affected are
preparing themselves. The government has
now appointed a commission which will
examine the options under discussion.
Confusing common words
• Companies need to expand customer service
where they’re communities are now living.
• Companies need to expand customer service
where their communities are now living.
• They also practice confidentiality.
• They also practise confidentiality.
Some commonly confused words
• accept/except/expect
• advice (noun)/to advise
(verb)
• effect (noun)/to affect
(verb)
• complement/compliment
• assure/ensure/insure
• imply/infer
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
loose/to lose/loss
principal/principle
passed/past
rise/raise
personal/personnel
cite/site
who’s /whose
were/we’re/where
How to avoid spelling errors
Some strategies to use
• Proofreading – check your writing for personal
errors
• Use Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check
• Mnemonics, or memory aids, such as
necessary – one collar and two socks
• Spelling rules, such as i before e except after c,
when the sound is ee – receive, ceiling,
conceit.
Use of informal language – what to
avoid
• As a client representative who supports clients
and their families, this organisation ticked all the
boxes.
• I rang on Friday morning and by Friday evening I
got an appointment for Monday morning.
• There were some pictures on the wall as well as
an activity board with a whole heap of messages.
• It seemed a bit cluttered.
• Find formal alternatives for “ticked all the boxes”,
“got”, “whole heap of messages”, and “a bit”.
How to develop your academic
vocabulary
• learn to recognise the difference between
speech and writing, especially the use of
words with Latin and Greek roots in written
academic English.
• keep a vocabulary notebook for new words.
• use a subject dictionary.
Some useful texts
• Cholij, M. and Nagaraj, G. (2004) English
Basics, a companion to grammar and writing.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
• Jackson, H. (2005) Good Grammar for
Students. London: Sage Publications.
• Peck, J. and Coyle, M. (2012) The Student’s
Guide to Writing: Grammar, Punctuation and
Spelling. 3rd edn. Houndmills: Palgrave
Macmillan.
Some useful texts (2)
• Rose, J. (2012) The Mature Student’s Guide to
Writing. 3rd edn. Houndmills: Palgrave
Macmillan.
• Sinclair, C. (2010) Grammar: A Friendly
Approach. 2nd edn. Maidenhead: Open
University Press.
A useful website
• http://www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise

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