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English: skills for learning
English: skills for learning

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4.2 Becoming familiar with specialised vocabulary

Academic texts use a great deal of technical vocabulary that is specific to the field being written about. When you start a university qualification, you will be exposed to a range of readings that contain both technical and formal vocabulary and this will help you to become used to it and learn it.

One way to familiarise yourself with specialist language before starting a university qualification is to read websites and magazines or watch documentaries that specialise in the subject you are thinking of studying in the future. For example, you could read good quality English language newspapers, listen to good quality radio programmes such as those on BBC Radio 4, watch OU/BBC documentaries, or study a short OpenLearn [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]  or FutureLearn course.

However, it is important to note that, in order to be understood by a wide range of people, newspapers and websites contain some less formal expressions.

If you wish to build your vocabulary, you could take time to notice new specialist or formal words as you read or watch documentaries. Look them up in a dictionary if necessary and record them for future use. You will learn how to make effective use of dictionaries and record vocabulary in Week 7.