English: skills for learning
English: skills for learning

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

English: skills for learning

1.3 Use of specialist words in everyday life

A key part of any writing style is choice of vocabulary. It is common to use specialist vocabulary in the workplace when it is necessary to describe specific situations and objects. The same applies when people talk about shared hobbies and interests and often use a great deal of specialist language.

If you have a hobby or special interest, you may regularly use specialist words that may only be understood by people who share your interest. For example, I have recently read a sports magazine that refers to football players using specialist terms I do not fully understand, such as midfielder, sweeper and winger.

Activity 3

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

Do you have a hobby or an interest that you discuss with other people using specialist or technical language? Do you ever read a specialist magazine or website about your hobby or talk about it with other people? Think of some examples of words or phrases you might use.Write some notes in the box below and then compare your answers to mine.

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


The answer is personal to you, but you might like to read my example. I have recently come across some written instructions my daughter has used to knit a scarf.

Image of a close-up of a knitted scarf showing the single rib stitch
Figure 3 Single rib stitch

The single rib stitch is created with K1, P1 across the work on the right side. If you started with an even number of stitches, you will K1, P1 on the wrong side row too.

(Keep on Knitting, 2014)

While I consider these very complex instructions, my daughter seems to have no problem following them despite having only recently learned to knit. She uses some of this language when talking about her knitting with friends who have the same hobby and have helped her to get started.

Specialist language, symbols and language structures are often used by groups of people who have a common interest and purpose for communicating. This common language allows them to understand each other when referring to topics that are very specific to their field or their interests. While it may be difficult to start with, those who are new to the field are gradually introduced to this style by more expert friends and colleagues.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371