Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Introduction to Academic Writing

Hello all the beautiful people!

So in this post, I'm going to introduce you to academic writing, especially English academic writing. I'm writing this post simply because lots of my students are not familiar yet with types of academic writing and how to write academically. 

So I'm going to make a new label named Academic Writing, and I'll be posting articles about academic writing systematically. Let's just hope I can still make time for writing on this blog.

Okay, so this is the outline of what we will be discussing in this post:

1. What Is Academic Writing?
2. Types of Academic Writing
3. What Are Needed for a Good Academic Writing?

1. What Is Academic Writing?

According to this site, academic writing is "the type of writing students are expected to produce in response to content they learn about in an academic setting; i.e. school. It's how they formally join the 'scholarly conversation'." Academic writing is different from creative writing, in that students cannot merely write narrative or descriptive forms inspired by their imaginations. Academic writing suggests that students provide some evidence (data, books, students' experiences, etc) to support their writings.

2. Types of Academic Writing

Okay, so basically I'm just going to give points to the types of academic writing that teachers may ask their students to compose. Click on the type and you'll get to the website.

1.         Essays
2.         Reports
3.         Case Studies
4.         Research proposals
5.         Book reviews
6.         Brief research reports
7.         Literature reviews
8.         Reflective writing
9.         Introductions
10.       Research methods
11.       Research results
12.       Research discussions
13.       Writing conclusions
14.       Research abstracts

3. What Are Needed for a Good Academic Writing?

The basic purpose of writing is to make people read the writings. So the writings should be clear and understandable. What are the crucial elements that make a good academic writing?

1. A good, and maybe not so ordinary, idea.

People may at first be interested in reading a trending topic on twitter; but when the topic has gone viral and has been re-tweeted several times, people will get bored of reading it. The same thing happens to academic writing topic. When students have chosen one topic to write, they should brainstorm themselves to get a not-so-common idea from the topic. In other words, find the novelty of the topic.

2. Clear objectives

Take a look at advertisements on TV, or maybe on billboards. Most of the times, the targets of those advertisements can be clearly seen. Advertisers work hard to come up with an idea of the theme for their advertisements, because they want to attract their targets. Similarly, in academic writing, students should know who they are composing the writing to. Students should first know their audience. 

In addition, students should also be clear on the genre and purpose of the writing. Is it to persuade? Is it to describe a process? Is it to give facts?

3. Clear WH-questions

Academic writings are considered well written when they answer the WH-questions. For example, a student wants to write about how the earth was formed. S/he needs to answer questions such as "When was the first formation of the earth?", "What caused the earth to form?", "What does the earth compose of?", etc. 

4. Reliable sources

As previously mentioned, when students want to write academically, they must support their writings with evidence. The evidence can be data, experiences, or theories. An academic writing without evidence is similar to a diary.

5. Consistent writing style

When writers use a consistent writing style, readers will acknowledge their work simply from the writing style. There are writers who like to use "I" in their writings; but there are also writers who use a third person to address themselves in their writings.

There are still many elements that make a good academic writing. You may search it on the Internet. This is just a simpler version.

So, that's all the brief introduction to academic writing. I hope it helps you, especially students who want to write their final papers or a simple argumentative essay.

Saturday, 3 May 2014


Hello again. So I got a request from Nguyen Duy Hung to explain the difference between JOIN, PARTICIPATE IN, and TAKE PART IN. Well, I use the definitions from COED, then I'll give an example and find the difference between the use of the three similar phrases.


Join is defined into three definitions:
1. Link or become linked or connected to.
2. Become a member or employee of (an organisation).
3. Support (someone) in an activity.

1. I just joined the two pieces together.
2. She wants to join the reading group.
3. I join him to the concert.


PARTICIPATE (usually used with preposition IN), is defined as BE INVOLVED or TAKE PART. Similar to PARTICIPATE, TAKE PART IN has the same meaning. TAKE PART IN is the idiom version of the phrasal verb PARTICIPATE IN. They both are interchangeable.

A: Can they participate in the basketball game tomorrow?
B: They told me they would take part in the game.

Basically, JOIN, PARTICIPATE IN, and TAKE PART IN are all interchangeable when the purpose is to get involved. However, JOIN may also be used to tell an INITIAL ACTION of becoming part of some event; used for non-physical action (e.g. I joined the football game, but I just watched the game) or before the non-physical action. On the other hand, both PARTICIPATE IN and TAKE PART IN refers to physical actions one is involved in (I took part in the basketball game and I sweated like crazy).

Well, that is all of my explanation about the difference of those three. I hope it helps and you won't be confused to use them anymore. Cheerio!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Asian Parliamentary Debate Format

For those who are in my Discussion and Debate class, the rest of the semester we're going to have debates using Asian Parliamentary format. In order for you to become familiar with the format, here are links of videos that will help you get accustomed to the format.

1. Introduction to the Asian Parliamentary Debate Format2. Roles of Speakers - The Prime Minister3. Roles of Speakers - Leader of Opposition4. Roles of Deputy Speakers5. Role of Whip Speakers6. Role of the reply Speaker

Please watch the videos as we are going to start the debate practice next meeting. Thanks.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Phrase and Clause

In this opportunity, I want to tell you the briefest explanation about PHRASE and CLAUSE.


A PHRASE is a collection of words that may consist of NOUNS, VERBS, PREPOSITIONS, ADVERBS, but NOT a SUBJECT doing a verb.

1. to the South
2. the job
3. every inch
4. very difficult
5. to be smart

There are FIVE KINDS of PHRASE: 1) VERB phrase; 2) NOUN phrase; 3) ADJECTIVE phrase; 4) ADVERBIAL phrase; and 5) PREPOSITIONAL phrase.

1. had been living (verb phrase)
2. easy task (noun phrase)
3. so intriguing (adjective phrase)
4. as soon as possible (adverbial phrase)
5. in the garden (prepositional phrase)


A CLAUSE is a group of words that consists of a SUBJECT and a VERB.

Clause is divided into TWO kinds:
1) Independent/Main Clause, is the clause that CAN STAND ALONE and be put a full stop (.)
2) Dependent/Subordinate Clause, is the clause that CANNOT STAND ALONE and accompanies the main clause.

1. I met her when I was there.
      main       sub. clause
2. I want to know what you have done.
      main clause        sub. clause

There are FOUR types of CLAUSES: 1) RELATIVE/ADJECTIVE clause; 2) NOUN clause; 3) ADVERBIAL clause; and 4) PRONOUN case. More about clauses will be discussed later in the next post. To understand more about PHRASES and CLAUSES, watch this video.

So that was the brief explanation about PHRASE and CLAUSE. I hope it helps you not get confused in distinguishing between the two.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Variety, Variation, Variant, Variance

This post is actually for me, but who knows, maybe some people out there need it also. At first I was a bit confused whether to use the word 'variety' or 'variation' before the word 'people'. Then, as always, I googled the differences and found more than just the explanation from 'variety' and 'variation'. All of the words mentioned later are NOUNS.

1. Variety

The word 'variety' means A DIFFERENT TYPE OF SOMETHING. To be exact, one certain thing can have some VARIETIES. For example, the fruit APPLES, can have some varieties such as RED DELICIOUS, JONATHAN, GRANNY SMITH, FUJI, etc.

2. Variation

'Variation' means A CHANGE OR SLIGHT DIFFERENCE IN CONDITION, AMOUNT, OR LEVEL FROM THE USUAL FORMS. For example, "She added some new variations on the choreography" means that she had the same choreography, only it was improvised, perhaps by adding some new moves.

3. Variant

According to Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 'variant' is a form or version that VARIES FROM OTHER FORMS of the same thing or FROM A STANDARD. Or, as what I read from this page, 'variant' is something which is SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SIMILAR THINGS. For instance, 'theatre' is the VARIANT spelling from 'theater'; Bulimia is a VARIANT of anorexia.

4. Variance

I found the definition of 'variance' here. It says that 'variance' is the state, quality, or fact of BEING VARIABLE, DIVERGENT, DIFFERENT, or ANOMALOUS.  The word 'variance' is usually used in phrase 'at variance with'. As an example, her income is AT VARIANCE WITH her expenses. 

In conclusion, the differences between 'variety', 'variation', 'variant', and 'variance' can be illustrated in the following graphs.





Whoo! You have no idea how long it took me to illustrate the differences. I hope this helps, and correct hehe. If there are some mistakes, please feel free to comment and correct. Thank you.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Stories for Listening Practice

Dear all,

It's been so long since I last posted a blog here. Now, I want to share a very useful resource for listening practice with you all. Just click this LINK and you will find looooots of stories and their MP3s. You can use them to improve your listening skill, or you can use them for teaching your students, as I do. You can download the MP3s for free, but remember: YOU MAY NOT SELL THEM, because it's against the law and you may be put in prison ;)

Well, feel free to visit the website to look around and who knows, you may find stories you're interested in. Good luck.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Pragmatics (Introduction and Background)

Hello everyone! Today I'm going to introduce you to a branch of Linguistics, i.e. Pragmatics. I'm no expert, for sure. So I just make summaries from Yule's book (1998). 

Since I'm also learning Pragmatics, it'll be useful for me if I make summaries orderly from every chapter of Yule's book. And I think it'd be better if I share this here. 

In this section, you're going to learn the definition of Pragmatics, and to differentiate between Syntax, Semantics, and Pragmatics. I'll put the reference at the bottom of this section.

Pragmatics is:
·           The study of speaker meaning
·           The study of contextual meaning
·           The study of how more gets communicated than is said
·           The study of the expression of relative distance

Syntax, Semantics, and Pragmatics

The study of the relationships between linguistic forms, how they are arranged in sequence, and which sequences are well-formed.
The study of the relationships between linguistic forms and entities in the world; that is, how words literally connect to things.
The study of relationships between linguistic forms and the users of those forms.

·     The advantage of studying pragmatics is that one can talk about people’s intended meanings, their assumptions, their purposes or goals, and the kinds of actions (for example, requests) that they are performing when they speak.
·     The disadvantage is that all these very human concepts are extremely difficult to analyse in a consistent and objective way.


·      Some regularity derives from the fact that people are members of social groups and follow general patterns of behavior expected within the group.
·      Another source of regularity in language use derives from the fact that most people within a linguistic community have similar basic experiences of the world and share a lot of non-linguistic knowledge.
·       Nothing in the use of linguistic forms is inaccurate, but getting the pragmatics wrong might be offensive.

The Pragmatics Wastebasket

·    Wastebasket is made from the notes on ordinary language that fill up linguists and philosophers’ work tables and that are knocked off.
·       The contents of that wastebasket were not originally organised under a single category. They were defined negatively, as the stuff that wasn’t easily handled within the formal systems of analysis.


Pragmatics is different from syntax and semantics, since it studies the relationships between linguistics forms and the users of those forms.

By using pragmatics, we will be able to know speaker’s intentions, assumptions, and goals. In pragmatics, however, we cannot analyse the human concepts consistently and objectively.

Reference: Yule, G. 1998. Pragmatics. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press.