English that hits the target
Of course you cannot do without an extensive vocabulary and a thorough understanding of the grammar, and correct English pronunciation certainly helps as well. But a good command of English is more than that. What matters is that you can convey your message clearly with the right words, in an appropriate style, and with the necessary subtlety. The point is for your message to hit the target.
Let's take a closer look at writing. Papers and theses are not just factual documents where findings about particular topics are described — preferably in correct English, of course. They are also texts in which you want to convince the reader of your take on the facts, and in which you must articulate what you know and think clearly with a well-organised structure.
As a writer, you must therefore always keep an eye on the purpose of your text and its structure, the suitability of text elements, and the use of language. For example, an essay is always reflective and will include the writer’s opinion. A research report is more factual and will always include results, conclusions, and recommendations. Once you know this, you can adapt your writing style.
It is also important to consider the reader. What will they know about the topic already? What tone and style will be the best fit? Is the use of any specialised language and jargon suited to your reader’s knowledge?
The above is also true for when you’re writing in your native language. If English is not your native language, it may be a challenge to write down exactly what you mean, using the right words and nuances, and to emphasise your strong points, subtly hide your weak points, and strengthen your arguments and recommendations.
If you search online for better academic writing tips, you will get a lot of hits. It is important to critically assess whether a tip actually contributes to a better text. For example, consider the advice to write as succinctly as possible. Sentences in English are often longer than in Dutch, and the content of a scientific text is complex. This tip may therefore be counterproductive. But how will you achieve the right balance between the amount of text, word choice, and effective content?
Would you like to get some tips and tools so you can write English texts with more ease and confidence that stand out and really engage, affect, and persuade your reader? If so, then have a look at the Wageningen in’to Languages course offerings.
Here are some student testimonials:
“I have recommended the Academic Writing course to several of my friends. It has really helped me to give my style of writing more structure. I am also more confident in my skills, and I have started to really enjoy writing. It was certainly worth it!'' - Kaylee van Dijk, MSc Animal Sciences & Biology
“Academic Writing has a very structured course design and the personal attention from the lecturer ensures that everyone learns at their own level and according to their own needs.” - Myrthe Brouwer, Biology student