3 Must-Know Academic Writing Tips for International Students

Today, going to college is a necessary part of life. Yet, it takes a lot of hard work to earn a diploma. Every student, for instance, has to master the skill of academic writing. It’s usually a taxing activity even for native speakers. This can be more difficult and stressful for foreign and international students.

First, as an international student, you must grasp course concepts—where some may get very technical. Then, you have to communicate in a second language. If that’s not enough, you have to contend with a rigid, formal writing style. That’s why some may resort to seeking essay writing help from friends, essay ghostwriters or even top-rated paper services.

Some aspects of academic writing are easier to pick up than others. As a non-native speaker, formatting may not be as hard as, say, writing in the third person.

A limited vocabulary also presents a big problem for some foreign students. Most international students find it difficult to express their complicated thoughts. Additionally, the tenses’ approach in the English language seems baffling to many. Finding similarity between English tenses and their equivalent in other languages is rare.

Tip #1. Learn to Make Sentences Cohesive

Making sentences cohesive is a tricky affair. Yet, pronouns are useful. They reduce repetition and make text readable and clear.

Pronouns are words like he, her, it, and them. They take the place of proper nouns, which refer to the names of people, places, or companies. Everything that you’d spell out starting with a capital letter is most likely a proper noun.

Because it’s a type of formal writing, academic writing prefers third person pronouns. One way of identifying such a pronoun is to assume that a person or thing is not in the vicinity. For example, let’s say you met Jane at the mall yesterday wearing a cute dress. Try describing that scene to someone else later in a sitdown. You should say:  I met Jane. Her dress was lovely.

Also note: academic writing tends to generalize. Hence, in a case like the one above, it’s better to talk about meeting many women rather than Jane alone. You’d thus need to write something like: Several women were at the mall yesterday. Their dresses were lovely.

Tip #2. Expand Your Vocabulary: Read, Listen and Speak More

This second tip asks for nothing less than lots of practice. It’s one thing to have an idea and it’s another thing to explain that idea to a third party. A broad vocabulary is what helps other people understand what one means. Some ways of expanding vocabulary include reading diverse texts and multimedia. Thus, as a foreign student, you should make a habit out of reading English newspapers, magazines or books.

It’s also important to interact with people who are fluent in English; just by talking, joking, and listening to them, you will pick up on English nuances.

Tip #3. Practice Tenses

Tenses usually describe when an event occurred or suggests that something is ongoing. In most academic papers, the use of simple past tense is recommended. This means that you should describe what an entity did. For instance, you could say: The research showed that speeding is dangerous.

As with the two tips above, this one also requires you to practice, practice, practice. Reading lots of English texts, for example, is a great way of discovering how tenses work.

In short, these tips suggest that every foreign student is capable of writing academic papers with ease. And just like with other skills, it only takes a bit of discipline and persistence to reach perfection.

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Carol is very keen on teaching students new, effective ways of learning. When not freelancing and blogging on education-related matters, Carol enjoys traveling. She takes immense pleasure of visiting new countries.