Language – it’s a uni thing                                                                                    

Hands up if you have ever been bamboozled by how to respond in writing, verbally or physically?

It is easy to get a text wrong if your ‘tone’ is misinterpreted by the reader, let alone when you need to write an academic submission at uni…. and twicely (yep I just made that up) hard if your using English as a second, third or seventh language (huge hi five to you guys because, let’s be honest, English can be a difficult language to grasp!)

Working out when to use appropriate phrasing is mind bending at times and each serves a different need and purpose always.

Academic writing includes working out when to use formal language and when to be informal as a big part of mastering the correct use of language…

Formal and informal language serve different purposes. The tone, the choice of words and the way the words are put together vary between the two styles. Formal language is less personal than informal language however it is used when writing for professional or academic purposes – just like university assignments. Formal language does not use colloquialisms, contractions, or first-person pronouns such as ‘I’ or ‘We’.

Informal language is more casual and spontaneous. It is used when communicating with friends or family either in writing or in conversation. It is used when writing personal emails, text messages and in some business correspondence. The tone of informal language is more personal than formal language.

According to USQ, Academic (formal) Writing, consist of a main idea, or topic, which is explained, elaborated, supported by evidence, and illustrated through the use of examples. Paragraphs are characterised by increasing specificity; that is, they move from the general to the specific thus increasingly refining the reader’s understanding.

What does that mean? Well informally it means explaining your idea, supporting them with evidence and being specific… and adding a conclusion.

So, to be specifically specific, it is a pretty good idea to check if your paragraph is well thought out. For instance:

  • Does your paragraph have a clear main idea?
  • Is the main idea sufficiently broad enough to generate a whole paragraph?
  • Is everything in the paragraph related to the main idea?
  • Do the sentences join smoothly?
  • Is the main idea satisfactorily developed and explained?
  • Have you included evidence to support your main idea?

To wrap this up, we urge you to ask for help whenever you need it. For support to develop your academic language check out

If you do not know who to ask, ask us! We know who is who at USQ.

Until next time…


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