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VOA Learning English with Dr. Jill on Academic English

Voice of America's Learning English TALK2US program presents Dr. Jill Robbins on Academic English

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VOA Learning English with Dr. Jill on Academic English

  1. 1. Academic English Jill Robbins, Ph.D.
  2. 2. Aspects of Academic Language • Differs from social language. • Used for cognitively demanding tasks. • Taught and learned in school settings. • Closely tied to literacy; also found in oral language. • Includes subject-specific vocabulary (often of Greek or Latin origin). • Grammatical structures more complex than those of social language. • Formal and decontextualized discourse. • Used in higher-level thinking. • Used in higher-level thinking and academic language functions. • Needs explicit instruction. (Chamot, 2004)
  3. 3. Academic Language Functions • seeking information/informing—observe and explore the environment, acquire information, inquire, identify, report, or describe information • informing—recount information provided by a teacher/text; retell a story or personal experience • comparing—describe similarities and differences in objects or ideas • ordering—sequence objects, ideas, events • classifying—group objects or ideas according to their characteristics • analyzing—separate whole into parts; identify relationships and patterns • inferring—make inferences, predict implications, hypothesize • justifying and persuading—give reasons for an action, decision, point of view; convince others • solving problems—define/present a problem and determine a solution • synthesizing—combine or integrate ideas to form a whole • evaluating—assess and verify worth of an object, idea or decision
  4. 4. Academic Word LIst • The Academic Word List (AWL) was developed by Averil Coxhead as her MA thesis at the School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The list contains 570 word families which were selected according to principles. The list does not include words that are in the most frequent 2000 words of English. The AWL was primarily made so that it could be used by teachers as part of a programme preparing learners for tertiary level study or used by students working alone to learn the words most needed to study at tertiary institutions. The Academic Word List replaces the University Word List. • For detail on the development and evaluation of the AWL, see Coxhead, Averil (2000) A New Academic Word List. TESOL Quarterly, 34(2): 213-238. • See also: http://www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/resources/academicwordlist/
  5. 5. The Academic Corpus A written corpus of academic English was developed for the purpose of finding out which words occurred in a wide range of academic texts from a variety of subject areas. The Academic Corpus contained approximately 3,500,000 running words. It was divided into four faculty sections: Arts, Commerce, Law and Science. Each of these faculty sections contained approximately 875,000 running words. Each faculty section was divided into seven subject areas of approximately 125,000 running words.
  6. 6. Subject areas in the Faculty Sections of the Academic Corpus
  7. 7. Frequent Words in AWL Sublist 1 • This sublist contains the most frequent words of the Academic Word List in the Academic Corpus. The most frequent members of the word families in Sublist 1 are listed below. • analysis • approach • area • assessment • assume • authority • available • benefit • concept • consistent • constitutional • context • contract • create • data • definition • derived • distribution • economic • environment • established • estimate • evidence • export • factors • financial • formula • function • identified • income • indicate • individual • interpretation • involved • issues • labour • legal • legislation • major • method • occur • percent • period • policy • principle • procedure • process • required • research • response • role • section • sector • significant • similar • source • specific • structure • theory • variables
  8. 8. How to Learn Academic Words • Read texts in your area of interest (economics, technology, social science) • Watch videos of presentations in those areas, provided by platforms such as – Coursera: https://www.coursera.org – iTunesU: https://itunes.apple.com/us/genre/itunes-u/ id40000000?mt=10 – Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/freeonlinecourses • Talk with others studying in the field of interest through face-to-face encounters, Skype, Google Hangouts, etc. • Write a blog about your interests in the field. Read and comment on other blogs in the area.

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