Preparing for Academic Speaking & Writing

The process of writing & speaking

The following procedure is useful when writing an extended  assignment or preparing an oral presentation.

  Task Skills Needed Product
1. Read the question or brief and understand what you are required to do. Think about the subject, the purpose and the audience. thinking academically Subject.
2. Think about what you know about the subject. Write it down in some way. brainstorming Diagrams or notes.
3. Go to the library - or look online - and find relevant books or articles. library/research skills Reading list.
4. Find the books on your reading list - if you have one - and study them. reading skills: skimming and scanning List of materials studied.
5. Make notes on these books and articles.

Record full details of the materials you use.

reading in detail

selecting & note-taking

paraphrasing/summarising

Notes.
6. Organise your piece of work, either as a piece of written work or an oral presentation. planning

organisation

Plan.
7. Type or write your first draft. This is useful, even for an oral presentation. writing from notes

synthesis

writing paragraphs

typing/word-processing

First draft.
8. Discuss your first draft informally with friends, other members of your class and your lecturer if possible. speaking skills

listening skills

discussion skills

List of revisions/changes.
9. Revise your first draft, bearing in mind any comments that were made in your discussions.

Go back to 2. if necessary

Produce your second draft.

use of dictionaries & reference books

writing introduction & conclusion

quoting/writing a list of references

Second draft.
10. Proofread your draft.

 

checking for spelling mistakes

checking punctuation and grammar

checking pronunciation if it is for an oral presentation

checking vocabulary use

checking style

checking organisation, references etc.

checking for plagiarism

Writing with changes marked.
11.

Produce a final typed version of a wriitten assignment. Or produce visuals and notes if needed for an oral presentation.

typing/word-processing

writing title/contents page

producing visuals

making notes

Final piece of work.

Notes & visuals

12. Check everything. final check Hand in.

Task - 1

1. Read the question or brief and decide what kind of writing or speaking you should be doing (See Writing Genre Introduction) and what the assignment should be on. See Preparing the Task

References

Barnes (1992, pp. 68-72).

Hamp-Lyons & Courter (1984, pp. 88-93).

Hamp-Lyons & Heasley (1987,  pp. 140-142)

Jordan (1999, pp. 120-125)

Smith & Smith (1988, pp. 218)

Task - 2

1. It is most unlikely that you will find the information you need about your topic in just one specific section of the library. Think as widely as you can about possible subject areas that may be relevant to your topic. Use various methods such as drawing diagrams, writing lists or fast writing to record everything you know.

References

Hamp-Lyons & Courter (1984, pp. 88-90).

Meyers (2005, pp. 3-8).

Trzeciak & McKay (1994, pp. 111-112).

Task - 3

1. Go to the library - or online -  and find relevant books or articles - See Research Introduction

2. Encyclopaedias can give you an initial idea of the important aspects of a subject.

Find out where they are kept and note down their class numbers.

Look up some of the areas or topics that you wrote down in Task 1. Make notes on the information if it is useful. Remember to record the name, date and publisher of the encyclopaedia and the numbers of the pages you are using.

3. Use the library computer catalogue to find useful material for your topic.

Choose the:

Search the Catalogue option on the main menu.

Use the:

Keyword option on the Search the Catalogue menu and identify the names and class numbers of the sections of the library that might hold useful material for your topic.

Write down some subject area names and their class numbers.

Record the bibliographical details of the books and their class numbers in the following order:

Author

Date

Title

Edition
(if not 1st)

Place of Publication

Publisher

Class Number

4. Using information obtained from part 3, as well as information you already have, search now in the:

Author or Title search option on the Search the Catalogue menu of the terminal for the details and class numbers of some relevant books.

Record the bibliographical details of the books and their class numbers in the following order:

Author

Date

Title

Edition
(if not 1st)

Place of Publication

Publisher

Class Number

5. If you need more information from the library, use the:

Advanced search option on the Search the Catalogue menu of the terminal for the details and class numbers of some relevant books.

Record the bibliographical details of the books and their class numbers in the following order:

Author

Date

Title

Edition
(if not 1st)

Place of Publication

Publisher

Class Number

6. If you need more specialised information, choose option:

Links to Remote Resources on the main menu.

7. Bibliographies give details of books and articles, usually on particular subjects. They are usually located on the ground floor of the library.

Find the bibliographies relevant to your topic. Note any useful information.

Remember to record the bibliographical details of the books and their class numbers in the following order:

Author

Date

Title

Edition
(if not 1st)

Place of Publication

Publisher

Class Number

and note the call number.

Remember to record the bibliographical details of articles in the following order:

Author Date Title Journal Title Volume Page Numbers

8. If you need even more specialised information, you might want to look at the information available on CD-ROMs, or on various on-line databases.

9. Go and search in the different sections of the library you identified under 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 as useful.

Remember to ask the librarians for help if you need it or any information relating to materials, systems etc.

10. Produce a reading list and a title.

References

Glendinning & Holmström (1992, units 10 & 11).

Hamp-Lyons & Courter (1984, pp. 31-84, pp. 175-192).

Heaton & Dunmore (1992,unit 4).

Smith & Smith (1988, pp. 36-51).

Wallace (1980, pp. 114-129)

Waters & Waters (1995,unit 4)

Task - 4

1. Go to the library with your reading list.

2. Find some of the books and articles you identified.

3. Every student has the same problem: how to get through the vast amount of reading given for each course. There is not enough time to read everything line by line. You need to be able to read efficiently. The way you read something will depend on your purpose. You need to read quickly to find relevant sections, then read carefully when you have found what you want.

Look at the books and articles. Use the index, the preface, the blurb (publisher's comments on the cover), the table of contents and glance through a book rapidly in order to identify the relevant sections. Look at the chapter titles. If the chapter seems useful, look at the headings and sub-headings. Quickly survey any useful chapters by reading the first few lines of each paragraph or by reading the first and last paragraphs.

4. When you think you have identified relevant sections, skim through them, read the conclusion perhaps, to be sure they are relevant - see Reading: Introduction

5. Make a list of the materials you have studied. Mark the useful ones.

References

Barnes (1992, ch. 5).

Hamp-Lyons & Courter (1984, pp. 96-104).

Heaton & Dunmore (1992,unit 11)

Northedge (1990, pp. 20-38).

Rowntree (1976, chs. 3 & 5).

Smith & Smith (1988, unit 4).

Trzeciak & McKay (1994, unit 1).

Wallace (1980, unit 2)

Waters & Waters (1995, unit 6)

Task - 5

1. When you think you have identified relevant sections, skim through them, read the conclusion perhaps, to be sure they are relevant. Then read the relevant sections carefully and make notes on them.

2. Make notes on these books and articles. Use your own words. Do not copy unless you think you will want to quote word for word. You will need to paraphrase and summarise what you read - see Reporting Introduction. Record full bibliographical details of the materials you use.

3. Produce your notes. Remember to record full bibliographical details of the books and articles you have read.

References

Braine & May (1996, pp. 119-138)

Glendinning & Holmström (1992).

Hamp-Lyons & Courter (1984, pp. 105-110, 118-126).

Heaton & Dunmore (1992, units 5 & 10)

Northedge (1990, pp. 40-50).

Rowntree (1976, ch. 7).

Smith & Smith (1988, unit 5).

Trzeciak & McKay (1994, unit 2).

Wallace (1980, unit 3)

Waters & Waters (1995, unit 5)

Task - 6

1. Look at your notes.

2. Decide on the purpose of your paper. Is it written or spoken?  Is it to inform, to explain, to compare, to describe something, to describe a process, to explain the reasons, to enumerate the causes, to compare/contrast, to discuss, to defend (a point of view), to contest (a point of view), etc. or a combination?

3. Organise your notes into sections; organise sections into subsections. The organisation of your paper or presentation will depend on your communicative purpose as in 2.

4. Order your information.

5. Plan your paper or talk. The main text should consist of three main parts:

1. Introduction

a. Comment on subject of assignment

b. Which aspects will you deal with?

2. Main body

a. Develop your line of argument through three or four main ideas.

b. Support your main ideas with examples and illustrations from experience or other authors.

3. Conclusion

a. Summary of main ideas.

b. Answer to question or comment on topic of essay indicating wider implications for or future trends.

See Preparing Organisation for more information on essay organisation.

References

Barnes (1992, pp. 79-82).

Hamp-Lyons & Courter (1984, pp. 126-141).

Northedge (1990, pp. 156-165).

Oshima & Hogue (1991, chap. 8)

Oshima & Hogue (1997, unit 6)

Rowntree (1976, pp. 69-72).

Trzeciak & McKay (1994, unit 3).

Waters & Waters (1995, unit 8)

Task - 7

1. Start with your plan.

2. Combine your notes into sentences and paragraphs - this is useful even for an oral presentation. see Writing Paragraphs Introduction

3. Use your own words except when you are quoting.

Sometimes it may be desirable to quote the author's words exactly. If you do so, keep the quotation as brief as possible and quote only when you have a good reason. The idea of your writing or talk is for you to say something for yourself using the ideas of the subject, for you to present ideas you have learned in your own way. You should be on working with other people's ideas, rather than reproducing their words. Your text should be a synthesis of information from sources, expressed in your own words, not a collection of quotations. Any quote you use should not do your job for you, but should add something to the point you are making. The quote should support your point, by quoting evidence or giving examples or illustrating, or by adding the weight of an authority.

For more information on using sources, see Writing Citation Introduction

4. Type out your first draft using the word processor. Start with the main body. Do not worry at this stage if you cannot find the exact word or phrase that you need. Concentrate on getting your ideas down on paper rather than spending time thinking whether or not you can express your ideas in a better way.

5. Print out your paper using double spacing.

6. Produce your first draft.

References

Barnes (1992, pp. 72-74).

Hamp-Lyons & Courter (1984, pp. 141-170).

Hamp-Lyons & Heasley (1987).

Heaton & Dunmore (1992, units 9 & 13)

Jordan (1992).

Northedge (1990, chs. 5 & 6).

Oshima & Hogue (1991, parts 1 & 2)

Oshima & Hogue (1997, units 4 & 5)

Smith & Smith (1988, unit 6).

Trzeciak & McKay (1994, units 3 & 4).

Wallace (1980, pp. 131-155)

Waters & Waters (1995, pp. 100 - 102)

Williams (1982, pp. 16-17, 24, 28-29, 40-41, 50-51, 53, 62-63, 65, 74-75, 77, 88-89).

 Task - 8

1. Start with your first draft.

2. Discuss your first draft with others in your group.

Consider the following questions:

Type of writing

What kind of writing is this text supposed to be?

Does it conform to the conventions usually expected of its type?

Purpose and ideas

Is the writer's purpose clear?

Do we understand the main ideas?

Structure of text

Is it easy to follow the development of ideas?

Would it help to rearrange the sequence of ideas?

Do the relations between the text need to be changed?

Do the connections between the ideas need to be made clearer?

Are the ideas grouped in a suitable way?

Is the text segmented into appropriate paragraphs?

Should any of the paragraphs be joined together?

Should any of the paragraphs be broken down into smaller units?

Have you written a clear introduction and conclusion?

Language

Have you used an appropriate level of formality?

Is your language too complex, or too simple?

References

Have you acknowledged all sources?

Response as readers

Does the opening make us want to read on?

Do we feel satisfied with the ending?

Are there any points that are not necessary?

Are there any points that we don't understand?

Are there any points on which we would like more information?

3. Produce a list of changes to be made.

4. Go back to the library for more information if you need to.

References

Barnes (1992, pp. 87-89).

Hamp-Lyons & Courter (1984, pp. 168-172).

Jordan (1992, appendices 1-8).

Northedge (1990, pp. 170-171).

Rowntree (1976, pp. 74-75).

Trzeciak & McKay (1994, pp. 114-116).

Waters & Waters (1995, unit 9)

Williams (1982, pp. 100-104).

Task - 9

1. Start with your first draft and the list of changes.

2. Revise your first draft, bearing in mind any comments that were made in 7.

3. Produce a second draft.

4. Check your spelling using a dictionary and spellchecker.

5. Check your grammar and punctuation using a grammar book.

  • check your verbs:
  • correct tense, subject/verb agreement, verb in every sentence
  • check your word order
  • check your articles
  • check your prepositions
  • check your linking words
  • check your punctuation

6. Check your acknowledgement of sources used.

7. Produce a reference list.

For more information on bibliographies, see Writing References Introduction

8. Produce your second draft

References

Barnes (1992, pp. 74-79).

Hamp-Lyons & Courter (1984, pp. 22-28, 148-156, 160-166).

Jordan (1992, appendix 9).

Northedge (1990, pp. 172-173, 188-194).

Smith & Smith (1988, unit 7).

Trzeciak & McKay (1994, unit 4).

Wallace (1980, unit 7)

Waters & Waters (1995, pp. 49-53, 111-116)

Williams (1982, pp. 86-87. 96-97, 105-109).

Task - 10

1. Start with your 2nd draft.

2. Proofread your draft.

3. Check your organisation. Your work should have the following sections:

Preliminaries Title page
  Table of Contents
Main text Introduction
  Main body
  Conclusion
End matter References

4. Check for mistakes: spelling, punctuation, grammar. See Spelling and Punctuation

5. Check your style. See Writing Features Introduction & Speaking: Features Introduction

6. Check your references. See Writing Plagiarism Definitions

References

Hamp-Lyons & Courter (1984, pp. 196-222).

Trzeciak & McKay (1994, pp. 100-102).

Task - 11

1. Type or write your final version or produce notes and visuals for a formal presentation. See: Presentation Visuals 

2. Write your title/contents page - check departmental requirements

3. If you need to hand it in, print out a good quality copy. Bind it well. Keep a copy for yourself.

References

Gillett, Hammond & Martala (2009,  chap. 13)

Hamp-Lyons & Courter (1984, pp. 196-222).

Trzeciak & McKay (1994, pp. 98-99).

Wallace (1980, pp. 156-157)

Task - 12

1. Check everything. See Writing Checklist or Speaking: Checklist

2. Hand in your final work on time or give your oral presentation.