What is Academic Vocabulary?

What is Academic Vocabulary? 14 Oct

What is Academic Vocabulary?

When you start studying in the university, you’ll often hear people discussing “academic vocabulary”. This term is vague and worrying too.

So, what is academic vocabulary? And how can you learn it? What will happen to your marks if your vocabulary is less academic? Will it affect your grades in the university? What is a domain-specific vocabulary?

Many students are concerned about their academic vocabulary when they join the university. Usually, you will find most of them trying to get the right academic vocabulary without caring how they do it. Most of them usually search for synonyms of already familiar words in the Thesaurus. They believe that using synonyms of words is the best way for them to achieve the required academic vocabulary. For instance, instead of the word “get” they usually use “obtain”. So instead of “buying” coffees they “purchase” them. And instead of “say”, they will use “state”, “argue or “observe”.

For the general purpose, this approach is not so terrible but it can result in challenges since many will be addicted to thesaurus and prefer synonyms for each word. Therefore, you will find them ignoring common words and instead looking for complex words thus avoiding the simplistic approach in every way. So, instead of “people” they will use “citizens”, “individuals” or “humanoids”. Some friends decided once to use Thesaurus and one of the members called Joey became addicted to it making it hard for people to understand him. This is only one of the challenges with this approach and it can also result in other meanings of sentences not mentioning other challenges.

The synonym approach also brings about problems in “DUE TO” word.

And in academic writing, “DUE TO” is commonly used incorrectly. For example:

“The environment is at risk due to most people who fail to recycle their wastes.

In this example, the student is most likely using “DUE TO” because he believes that it’s more academic than its synonym “BECAUSE”. But if you use “BECAUSE” instead, then the grammar will become correct. And though “BECAUSE” and “DUE TO” have the same meaning, they are used differently. This is because you have to write that “DUE TO THE FACT THAT” for the phrase “DUE TO” to be grammatically correct in the sentence.

For example,

“The environment is at risk due to the fact that most people fail to recycle their wastes”

The sentence above is now grammatically correct.

But if you want to use “DUE TO”, then it can be used in place of “BECAUSE OF” in a sentence.

“The flight was delayed because of movement restrictions”

“The flight was delayed due to movement restrictions”

So, when you see the academic vocabulary, then what is it?

What I would like to explain is that academic vocabulary is not only swapping words for their smarter and fancy synonyms. And though it can work at times, sometimes they don’t match since other words have the same meaning but have different meanings grammatically. Therefore, if you decide to use the synonyms regularly, then your sentences will lose their original meaning or they will end up distorting the points you want to put across. So, what is the solution?

Well, academic vocabulary is just about vocabulary. And vocabulary involves communicating your ideas. For example, when you are hungry, then you will use the word “hungry” and someone will understand and give you food. If you want to use this vocabulary “hungry: well, then you should understand when someone is “hungry”. This also applies to academic vocabulary which is the language commonly used in universities when communicating ideas. That is, each even word with the same meaning should be used in the right place in sentences. And you will commonly encounter words with the same meaning but which cannot fit in the same contexts. This makes it important to choose your words carefully when constructing a sentence or explaining something.

Finally, you should understand these ideas- for example, reading, discussion with classmates, attending lectures as this is the best approach of using academic vocabulary instead of using synonyms for every word or idea you come across. Provided you understand these ideas better; you will be better placed in choosing the words to use in your sentences. reading specific texts like “I am an American speech” can help in the learning process.

Learn more about “What is True of the Conclusion to an Essay“.

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