academic writing vocabulary

To write an essay requires unique craftsmanship for the words to come outright. If you lack the right vocabulary or tools to use, your creation seems poor and awkward. You need to understand the choice of words you are using for the writing to impact the reader.

In most cases if you have a few words to express yourself, you’ll find yourself repeating the words. That loses the reader’s attention; hence, you must improve your grammar and command in vocabulary. This can be done by reading books, novels among others, improving your academic writing skills. That said, we’ll discuss effective ways to expand your academic writing vocabulary.

Types of Academic Vocabulary

Before we get to the techniques to expand your writing skills. There are two kinds of academic vocabulary you need to know about. The types of academic vocabulary include subject-area and common academic vocabularies. Using them in your writing gives you an upper hand making the essay captivating and interesting. Let’s breakdown how the two work:

Subject-area Vocabulary

It refers to the words you use in a particular field of study. That could be in sociology, economics, math, chemistry, and other disciplines. The words to use in such subjects can be found in books, academic journals, articles, and blogs related to the course in question.

Common academic vocabulary 

When it comes to the common vocabulary, these are phrases and words used in essays, textbooks, academic papers, and even articles across various fields. Examples of the words used include constitute, derive, theorize, evidence, among others.

The best place to find this kind of vocabulary is on Academic Word List (AWL). The list provides you with the common words used in professional and educational fields. Furthermore, the list has been drafted by Dr. Averil Coxhead (senior lecturer, School of Linguistics and Language Studies at Victoria University of Wellington).

That makes it ideal for your study. But, learning too many words at the same time from the site. Take what you can use and build on it. This makes it easier to master your craft and write a captivating essay.

Ways to Expand Your Academic Writing Vocabulary  

There are five creative and unique ways to improve your essay academic writing skills. The approach we take on this section touches on common academic words and subject-area words. We will expand on the methods to use in-depth to ensure you master the art of writing and playing around with words.

Underlining and define words in a text

You must read academic articles, texts, and blogs to sharpen your vocabulary skills. Once you have gone through the text, highlight the words you don’t understand their meaning. Look in a dictionary or Google, and then write your definitions in the margin. Once you have done this, re-read the sentence or paragraph to understand what the sentences or paragraph means.

Additionally, there are online reading tools you could use to highlight and comment on an article. The most preferred tools are Adobe Acrobat Reader, e-books on kindle and Nooks. These tools are more convenient for writing though writing with your hands helps you to remember. Therefore, instead of typing use a pen and notebook.

Making vocabulary flashcards

It’s more like having a journal where you write new words. Instead of using a journal, we suggest using flashcards to write down the keywords. Create a flashcard for each word and then find out the meaning.

Furthermore, if you opt to use Academic Word List (AWL) to find new words, then the flashcards will come in handy. Here are tips on how to use the cards:

Use academic vocabulary in your Essays.

Using the words in your academic paper is the best way to know if you used them correctly. Therefore, when revising your academic paper, use the word and let your friend go through it. Having a fresh and new set of eyes ensures the text makes sense and the words are used correctly.



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