Academic English: Must-learn Ideas, Words and Tactics to Speak Fluently

What is Academic English?

Academic English is English we use for academic purposes. For example, we use academic English at colleges and universities where students and academics study, research and educate. We do not use every day or colloquial English in study and research. Also, we need to approach the topic critically and objectively. In order to do that, we use academic English.

Academic English is very important in English tests such as the IELTS, PTE Academic (Pearson test of English Academic), TOEFL, Cambridge etc. Generally speaking, we use academic language whenever we want to come across as educated and intellectual. It is true that people think we are smart and educated when we speak academically as that demonstrates we possess critical thinking skills.

Key Tips To Speak Academic English Fluently

There are certain words and concepts you must learn, understand and memorize to speak academic English fluently. They are as follows:

Critical Universal Contexts
Critical Universal Contexts

Always Say the context in which you are summarizing or discussing the topic

This means you should ask yourself “I’m thinking and talking about the topic in terms of what”? What angle are you going to look at the topic from? You can view and speak about any topic in different ways; different contexts. Context is a number of a certain type of facts, factors and circumstances that form the reality of a topic. There are ten very common contexts that you will definitely hear of in any academic conversation. I call them Critical Universal Contexts (CUC). They are:

  1. 1. Culture
  2. 2. Globalization
  3. 3. Society
  4. 4. Economy
  5. 5. Politics
  6. 6. Science
  7. 7. History
  8. 8. Religion
  9. 9. Technology
  10. 10. Geography

Use and re-use the 10 context words clearly and creatively

The best way to use and re-use the words creatively is by changing their form. Use them as nouns, adjectives and adverbs in your speech. For now, practice the table below completely.

  1. 1. Culture | cultural | culturally
  2. 2. Globalization | global | globally
  3. 3. Society | social | socially
  4. 4. Economy | economical | economically
  5. 5. Politics | political | politically
  6. 6. Science | scientific | scientifically
  7. 7. History | historical | historically
  8. 8. Religion | religious | religiously
  9. 9. Technology | technological | technologically
  10. 10. Geography | geographical | geographically

Examples of Discussing a Topic in Different Contexts

Internet is a topic. I can choose to discuss the topic of the internet in different contexts. I can talk about the internet in the cultural context or in the context of culture. I might want to discuss it in the social context or in the context of society. Or maybe I want to speak about it in the political context or in the context of politics. Did you notice how I’m using the context words as nouns and adjectives. That is a great tactic for fluency.

If I discuss the internet in the context of culture, I will look at how the internet has contributed in creating a global culture. I can also look at how it has helped countries around the world learn about each other’s cultures; lifestyle, customs and traditions. This will be different if I decide to talk about the internet in the context of society. The discussion will focus more on the impact of the internet on our society, the way we interact and communicate. Then I will have to shed light on the advantages and disadvantages of the internet in terms of relationships among family and friends etc. How about studying how the internet (especially social media) has played a key role in the American 2016 election?

Think of and Use a Defining Word for Context words

Context defining words
Context defining words

Context is a very broad angle, and so you must define it. Be more specific. There is a number of Context-defining words that help you be more specific when you talk about the context:

  1. 1. Role
  2. 2. Influence
  3. 3. Significance
  4. 4. Implications
  5. 5. Connection
  6. 6. Impact
  7. 7. Aspects
  8. 8. Challenges
  9. 9. Benefits
  10. 10. Value

So looking at Figure 1, you can talk about the “cultural role” or the “cultural implications” of the internet.”Role” and “implications” are two very different things and require a different approach in the discussion.

Use synonyms for the defining words

Using synonyms is crucial for fluency. Since the defining words above are tremendously helpful in any academic text, I have provided a list of synonyms below:

  • Impact | effect | influence
  • Importance | significance | value
  • Implications | ramifications | repercussions
  • Connection | relationship | interconnectedness | inter-relatedness
  • Aspects | roles | parts | facets
  • Challenges | problems | pitfalls | disadvantages | drawbacks | cons
  • Benefits | solutions | merits | advantages | pros

Study the verbs that match with the defining words

Needless to say, there is a great number of combinations we can think of but some are more common than the rest. Below is a modest list of verbs with the defining words they match.

  • The speaker studies | examines | looks into | discusses the impact of etc
  • The speaker discusses | debates | highlights | underscores | emphasizes | reviews | evaluates the importance of etc
  • The speaker discusses | debates | studies | looks into | investigates the implications of etc
  • The speaker explores | studies | examines | investigates | looks into the connection etc
  • The speaker names | lists | mentions | explains | details | compares | describes | identifies the aspects of etc

Study the modifiers that match the defining words

  • important | critical | key | essential | valuable  + role
  • great | enormous | significant | large | considerable  + influence
  • little | some | great | special + significance
  • important | significant | many | few | some + implications
  • interesting | unique | remarkable | problematic | profound | complex + connection
  • strong | weak | significant | insignificant | great | little + impact
  • numerous| various | a number of | several | many | a few + aspects
  • many | a few | several | enormous | tremendous + challenges
  • great | many | a few | several | numerous | important + benefits

Practice the Pronunciation of All the Vocabulary in this Article

Since the vocabulary above is an absolutely integral part of academic English, master pronouncing it. Don’t take any risks. A number of the words above are a bit long and can be hard to pronounce clearly. Therefore, you shouldn’t take any chances. Make sure you can produce them clearly and naturally so that you can boost your speaking score on exams. Not only would that improve your speaking score but it would also give you a great deal of confidence in public speaking, meetings, presentations etc.

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