Speaking in Academic Contexts

Features of academic spoken English

Objectivity

Objective/Personal

Spoken language in general has more words that refer to the speaker and the hearer than written language. This means that although the main emphasis should be on the information that you want to give and the arguments you want to make, it is not unusual to refer to yourself or your audience.

Halliday (1989, p.79) compares a sentence from a written text::

The use of this method of control unquestionably leads to safer and faster train running in the most adverse weather conditions.

and a more natural spoken version:

You can control the trains this way and if you do that you can be quite sure that they'll be able to run more safely and more quickly than they would otherwise, no matter how bad the weather gets.

Look at the following examples (Halliday, 1989, p.81):

WrittenSpoken

Every previous visit had left me with a sense of the futility of further action on my part.

Whenever I'd visited there before, I'd ended up feeling that it would be futile if I tried to do anything more.

Improvements in technology have reduced the risks and high costs associated with simultaneous installation.

Because the technology has improved its less risky than it used to be when you install them at the same time, and it doesn't cost so much either.