12 Common Errors in Academic English – and how to fix them!
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12 Common Errors in Academic English – and how to fix them!


Hi. I’m Rebecca. And in today’s lesson, I’ll
explain twelve common errors that students make in academic English. Now, what’s academic
English? It’s the English that you need to use in school, college, or university when
you’re reading, writing, listening, and speaking — okay — ideally, but most importantly, when
you’re writing. Now, what’s the difference between academic English and general English?
Well, academic English in general — there are many differences, but in general, academic
English is more formal; it’s more objective, and also, it has to use a lot of referencing.
You always have to let people know where you got your information from. You have to cite
the source. You have to give the source. You can’t claim to write something and claim it
as your own. Okay? If you do that, that’s called “plagiarism”. It’s a very serious offense
in academic circles. But today, we’re not going to talk about how to reference a source.
We’re going to talk about the two other aspects: How to write more formally and objectively, and
what are the ten common errors that students make when they are not formal enough. Okay?
So not ten, twelve. Here we go. So first of all, using contractions. All of
these are what you should not do, okay? So avoid using contractions. Sorry. In this case,
don’t use contractions at all. So don’t say “don’t”; say “do not”. Don’t say “isn’t”; say
“is not”. All right? That’s academic English. Next, avoid phrasal verbs. So for example,
instead of saying “go up” — “Prices went up. — say, “Prices increased.” Instead of
saying “take away”, say “removed”. Avoid these multi-part verbs. All right?
It’s not as formal. Next, avoid idioms. Instead of saying, “It
was A1”, say, “It was excellent.” All right? Avoid slang. Don’t say “kids”; say “children”.
Use the proper terminology for various subjects. Avoid pronouns. So for example, instead of
saying, “You can see from the graph…” — all right. We use the pronoun “you”. Instead of
that, say, “The graph shows…” all right? Next, avoid negatives. For example, instead
of saying, “Something is not effective”, just say, “It is ineffective.” Instead of saying
something is “not positive”, say, “It’s negative.” So avoid these kinds
of negatives. Next, avoid clichés. Now, what are “clichés”?
“Clichés” are a kind of idiom, basically — commonly used expressions. All right? And
so on. Kind of a common wisdom about different things. And so you want to avoid these kinds of
expressions. For example, instead of saying, “When all is said and done” — all right?
We use that in conversation, but you don’t want to use it in your academic writing. Instead
of saying that, you’d probably use an expression like “in conclusion”. All right? So next, there are certain kinds of punctuation
— there are actually lots of rules about punctuation. And the kind of punctuation, the
style of punctuation that you use in academic writing depends on the style guide that you
have been asked to follow in your school, college, or university. Some very well-known
style guides are the MLA or APA. These are certain style guides, and they tell you everything
about how you need to write, what rules you need to follow, what are the rules of punctuation
and of quotations marks, of this and that. Okay? A lot more than what I’m covering here.
But in general, I can just tell you that we don’t see that many exclamation marks in academic
writing, okay? We do see a lot of semicolons. All right? That’s kind of — when do we use
a semicolon? Do you remember? Okay. What’s the difference between a period and a semicolon?
A period clearly divides two sentences. And a semicolon has one sentence which is a complete
sentence; then you put the semicolon. You do not capitalize the next letter, and the
next sentence is connected, and you want to show that it’s connected to the first sentence, which
is a very academic, intellectual, philosophical thing to do. So learn to use semicolons
if you’re in university especially. Next, avoid vague language. Don’t say “a bit”,
“a lot”, “kind of”, “sort of”. The days for using that kind of language are over. The
days are over once you’ve reached university, right? So instead of that, say “a considerable
number”, “a considerable amount”. Okay? That’s why sometimes they say that you can tell when
someone has been to university because they use higher-level language, which doesn’t mean
that you cannot use higher-level language if you have not been to university. You can
still learn to use excellent language. Next, simple vocabulary. Don’t use simple
vocabulary. You want to use slightly more sophisticated vocabulary. Instead of saying “a
big difference”, say “a major distinction”. Okay? Now, this is academic. Next, avoid giving your personal opinion.
Okay? In academic circles, they are not so keen on knowing your opinion. Don’t say “I
think”, “I believe”, “in my view”. Instead of that, say “according to so-and-so”, “according
to this research study” and you mention the particular research study. You have to always
give credit to the source. Where did you get your information? Who wrote that book? What
happened? Okay? You have various styles and ways in which you can mention that information,
but you must always give credit to the source. And don’t really give your opinion, unless
it specifically asked for it in a particular assignment. Okay? And last, don’t use language which is too
direct or too strong because then, maybe it cannot be justified. So you can’t make very
broad claims about anything. You have to be able to justify anything that you write especially.
So in other words, in academic English, your goal is to speak like your professor and write
like your textbook. And if you can do that, then you’re probably going to do very well
in the academic world and also out there in your career. Okay? If you’d like to do a quiz on this,
please go to our website, www.engvid.com. Thanks for watching. Good
luck with your English.

About James Carlton

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99 thoughts on “12 Common Errors in Academic English – and how to fix them!

  1. Lol! I've been working my ass off on trying to learn all those non-sense phrasal verbs and idioms only to find out that such expressions should be avoided on the exams cause It's not academic english. Someone shoot me, pls!
    You're an excellent teacher, Rebecca! You have no idea how hard It is for us brazilians to speak up as fluently as a native english speaker. You've turned it all much easier! Thank you so much!

  2. You are very good at teaching and giving the the knowledge to all learners.
    This VDO is really useful. Thank you Rebecca.

  3. There's no feeling like the one you get when you see the results of your own hard work. I'm so happy because I could easily understand all she said. I am not a native English speaker so to me this is unique. I'm still learning by the way.

  4. Thank you, it is a very useful video. However if something is not positive, it doesn't have to be negative. 0 is neither positive nor negative. We should write "It is non-positive" I suppose.

  5. Great Video thanks. But If we are not supposed to give our opinion & only should gather information from other resources, then how can we basically have a hypothesis?

  6. I clearly tend to use more formal language! And I actually don't like people who tend not to use it! I feel kind of disgust sometimes when come across such people and the reasons are explainable.
    I've heard people in Switzerland tend to be formal, but don't know about the Germans, but it should be a Nordic trait.

  7. Thank you veryyyyyy much ma'am.
    Shortly I am going to start with university,these are very helpful tips.
    can you please make some more videos for the aspirant students of university

  8. In general, how many errors can be allowed in a Formal Writing Essay? I know you are meant to get it as "perfect" or rather "error-free." BUT, on a High School standard, how many errors could be allowed to pass by? If that makes any sense at all.

  9. Hello! Thank you for your video. Can one use the idiomatic expression: " Rumour has it that….." ????
    Is it informal???? / any alternative ????

  10. This video is also helpful for native English speakers who want to improve their Academic English. Thanks Rebecca!

  11. I have a question… How can I write an opinion essay without write " In mi opinion, I think, I believe, according to my experience"?

  12. Exactly as I thought…academics do not have better idea, they just say them in a more wankier way.

    The vast majority of us don't…I'm//I am sorry, do not understand.

    Really, the message is some how different if I use a contraction of a word compared to it's full expansion, oh, I am sorry…it is full expansion?

  13. It is great that she made this video but rule number one (contractions) is ignored in her example of direct language.
    Am I the only one who picked that up?

  14. As you can see teacher Rebecca is no longer here to answer all of your questions, don't bother put your comments because all of her videos are 4 years old and she won't come back to respond to your comments.

  15. All of these rules are more or less justified, besides rule number 10. I see no reason why to insist on this rule unless your goal is to be cocky.
    A good sign of intelligence is to describe a complicated thing in a simple manner. How can one describe something in this way if there is an unwritten rule to overly complicate sentences in order to allow other colleges or whoever to cover up their lack of expertise?

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