February, 2024 Newsletter

This is the newsletter for February 2024, with information about a new video on features of academic vocabulary, and other updates.

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New video and other updates

New from the EAPFoundation website this month:
- a video on features of academic vocabulary;
- a webpage on ergative verbs;
- an infographic on learning vocabulary.

More details on all of these below.

Sheldon Smith
February 2024

New video: Features of academic vocabulary

For many students, vocabulary study involves translating and memorising words. This approach can improve reading, but is not effective for other skills, especially speaking and writing. If you want to use a word you need to understand not just its meaning but other features, including:
- how to pronounce it;
- how to spell it;
- its part of speech;
- its word family;
- the register, e.g. whether it is suitable for academic English;
- the grammar of the word;
- how it combines with other words (collocation);
- its frequency, i.e. is it a common word, since if it isn't, maybe it isn't worth studying in the first place.

This video on features of academic vocabulary guides students through each of these areas, then looks at an example word to show how the areas can be applied when studying new vocabulary.


YouTube channel

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Ergative verbs

Academic writing tends to use an impersonal tone. This is most often connected with the use of passive, which removes the actor from the sentence. Ergative verbs are a special class of verb which allow the object of the sentence to become the subject without changing the verb to passive, making them more active in their use, still objective and therefore academic, but also easy for students to get confused about. An example of an ergative verb is dissolve.
- I dissolved the white powder in the liquid. (not academic)
- The white powder was dissolved in the liquid. (no need for passive)
- The white powder dissolved in the liquid. (Correct!)

The page includes a list of ergative verbs, from a study by Julia Miller, showing which academic word lists they are in and therefore which ones are useful for academic English.

Infographic: Learning vocabulary

Continuing the vocabulary study theme of the video, this infographic looks at what is involved in learning vocabulary.

learn vocab infographic

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Sheldon Smith

Author: Sheldon Smith    ‖    Last modified: 17 March 2024.

Sheldon Smith is the founder and editor of EAPFoundation.com. He has been teaching English for Academic Purposes since 2004. Find out more about him in the about section and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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