Intermediate Level Essays

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.

Finn
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 bbclearningenglish.com. Do join us again for more 6 Minute Vocabulary.

Both
Bye!

Writing an essay can be a daunting task for both teachers and students in terms of creating and crafting a high quality essay,  and finally editing and grading them.

It seems though we may have overlooked one of the toughest steps in writing an essay and that is actually selecting an appropriate and interesting topic for your students.

Thankfully I have put together a list of 25 great essay topics that might just make that process a little easier.  Enjoy.  And remember to add any other great suggestions in the comment section below.

If you are still struggling with the essay writing process and need further guidance be sure to check out our definitive guide to writing a great essay. 

  1. Zoos are sometimes seen as necessary but not poor alternatives to a natural environment.  Discuss some of the arguments for and/or against keeping animals in zoos.
  2. Imaginethat your teacher wants to teach a new subject for the next few weeks.  Your teacher will take suggestions, and then let the students vote on the new subject. What subject should your class choose? Write an essay to support your choice and to persuade the other students to vote for your choice.
  3. Are actors and professional athletes paid too much?
  4.  Should teachers have to wear uniforms or have a dress code?
  5. Since the invention of nuclear weapons we have had a long period of GLOBAL peace and stability.  Are nuclear weapons global peacemakers or killing devices?
  6. Should boys and girls be in separate classes?
  7. Is the death penalty effective?
  8. To what extent is the use of animals in scientific research acceptable?
  9. What age is appropriate for dating?
  10. Pretend you woke up one day and there were no rules. People could suddenly do whatever they wanted! Explain what the world would be like. Use your    imagination!
  11. Should student’s textbooks be replaced by notebook computers?
  12. Should students be allowed to have cell phones in elementary and high schools?
  13. Should wealthy nations be required to share their wealth among poorer nations?
  14. Should money be spent on space exploration?
  15. Is fashion important?
  16. Are we too dependent on computers?
  17. Ifyou had the opportunity to bring any person — past or present, fictional    or nonfictional — to a place that is special to you (your hometown or    country, a favourite location, etc.), who would you bring and why? Tell us    what you would share with that person
  18. Most high level jobs are done by men. Should the government encourage a certain percentage of these jobs to be reserved for women?
  19. Should students be allowed to grade their teachers?
  20. In your opinion what factors contribute to a good movie?
  21. The destruction of the world’s forests is inevitable as our need for land and food grows.  Do you agree?
  22. Many parents give their children certain chores or tasks to do at home. Should    children have to do chores or tasks at home? Be sure to explain why you    think it is a good idea or a bad idea. Include examples to support your    reasons.
  23. Should the voting age be lowered to thirteen?
  24. Should the government place a tax on junk food and fatty snacks?
  25. Should more be done to protect and preserve endangered animals?

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