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Check your academic English skills We will identify the features of written academic English which commonly cause problems for students, and suggest how.

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Presentation on theme: "Check your academic English skills We will identify the features of written academic English which commonly cause problems for students, and suggest how."— Presentation transcript:

1 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.

2 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)

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

4 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

5 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)

6 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.

7 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.

8 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)

9 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)

10 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.

11 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.

12 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.

13 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.

14 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.

15 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.

16 Some commonly confused words accept/except/expect advice (noun)/to advise (verb) effect (noun)/to affect (verb) complement/compli- ment 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

17 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.

18 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”.

19 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.

20 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. 3 rd edn. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

21 Some useful texts (2) Rose, J. (2012) The Mature Student’s Guide to Writing. 3 rd edn. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. Sinclair, C. (2010) Grammar: A Friendly Approach. 2 nd edn. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

22 A useful website


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