Background knowledge

Determination is key

EAP APA Glossary Grammar Vocabulary Presentation skills

To write a good academic-style essay, you must first have some background knowledge on the subject you will be writing about. Two ways of acquiring background subject knowledge are reading (articles and books) and listening (to audio files and the dialogues in animations):

“Big Ideas”
“Concepts Explained”
“The BBC”
“Read-to-Write”

^ BIG IDEAS

big-ideas---beginings---04
01. BEGINNINGS (animations & audio-files)

BIG IDEAS: WHO AM I
02. WHO AM I? (animations & audio-files)

big-ideas---being-human---02
03. BEING HUMAN (animations & audio-files)

Big Ideas - Knowledge
04. KNOWLEDGE (animations & audio-files)

big-ideas---beauty---04
05. BEAUTY (animations & audio-files)

BIG IDEAS: LOVE
06. LOVE (animations & audio-files)

big-ideas---freedom---01
07. FREEDOM (animations & audio-files)

BIG IDEAS: SOCIETY
08. SOCIETY (animations & audio-files)

big-ideas---the-good-life---03
09. THE GOOD LIFE (animations & audio-files)

big-ideas---right-from-wrong---02
10. RIGHT FROM WRONG (animations & audio-files)

BIG IDEAS: JUSTICE
11. JUSTICE (animations & audio-files)

big-ideas---technology-and-change---04
12. TECHNOLOGY (animations & audio-files)

^ CONCEPTS EXPLAINED

ASTRONOMY (60-seconds-thought)
01. ASTRONOMY (audio & animation)

MICROGRAVITY (60-seconds-thought)s
02. MICROGRAVITY (audio & animation)

THOUGHT (60-seconds-thought)
03. THOUGHTS ON THEORY (audio & animation)

THEOLOGY (60-seconds-theology)
04. THEOLOGY (audio & animation)

THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE (60-seconds-thought)
05. THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE (audio & animation)

MONEY (60-seconds-thought)
06. MONEY (audio & animation)

ECONOMICS (60-seconds-thought)
07. ECONOMICS (audio & animation)

EUROPEAN UNION (60-seconds-thought)
08. THE EUROPEAN UNION (audio & animation)

^ THE BBC

bbc-radio-four-philosophy
01. PHILOSOPHY ARCHIVE (audio)

bbc-radio-four-science
02. SCIENCE ARCHIVE (audio)

^ Read-to-Write

As academic writing is based upon background reading, an important skills is to be able to read efficiently. Generally speaking, there are four ways in which information can be read:

Scanning
Skimming
Intensive
Extensive read more

Skimming and Scanning are the strategies you will mostly use when reading in relation to academic research. However, in a number of instances you will need to read intensively to ensure you fully understand a given concept or theory. Moreover, to become a better reader — and to improve your academic writing abilities — you will need to read extensively on the subject of your chosen Major.

Scanning
Scanning is used when we need to find a particular piece of information. You basically run your eyes over the text and look specifically for the particular piece of information you need. As with skimming, you do not need to understand every word when you scan read — you are often looking to find “key” words only. In real life, you would normally scan read a timetable to find the information relevant to you or your course.

Skimming
Skimming is used when we want to understand the main idea. You basically run your eyes over the text and gather the important information. You do not need to understand every word when you skim read and, you do not actually need to read every word either. For example, when you are reading a newspaper article in Arabic you are likely to skim read, to get the general news.

Intensive reading
Intensive reading is different from the other types of reading. With this type of reading it is important to understand each word and fact. It is basically accurate reading used for detailed understanding. We usually use intensive reading on shorter texts — or single paragraphs — to gain specific information (the answer to a specific question).

Extensive reading
Extensive reading is usually used for longer texts for pleasure. t is not necessary to understand every word; you are reading for enjoyment. This type of reading will help improve your reading speed. Therefore, try and read articles on subjects in English that are linked to your own areas of interest.

USEFUL RESOURCES:

links-to-books
  books worth considering

The Guardian
The Guardian

The Guardian
New Scientist