Academic English not only for Indonesians
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A critique of ‘critic’

Many teachers believe that smartphones should not be allowed in class because they distract students and do not help them to develop learning skills. However these critics are wrong, for the following reasons.

Critic is one of those words that has several forms, some of which have been borrowed by other languages and some of which have not. Consequently there is potential for word form error when critic is used by non-native speakers.
Indonesian flag Indonesians often use critic when they mean criticism! (more…)

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Describing transformational change(s)

The farmland was transformed become residential areas.

I have written elsewhere about how Indonesian IELTS candidates often use become to talk about a constant, where in English it is only ever used to describe a change. However, although become is used to describe a change, we would not use become AND transform together. (more…)

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Nothing is happened

Child marriage affects both genders but it is commonly happened among girls.

Indonesian flag This is a particularly Indonesian problem, but I’d be interested to know if it affects speakers of other languages – comments below! (more…)

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Unreasonable use of ‘reason’

The reasons that caused land degradation are shown in the pie chart.

One problem here is that reason is closely synonymous with cause, and so it’s as though you’re saying: (more…)

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Chicken because egg because chicken

Earth hour can have a significant impact on our planet. Because much can be achieved when people work together towards a shared goal.

I’ve posted about because before – here, here, and here. It’s such a common word and so you should make a special effort to use it correctly. Incorrect use can have a negative effect on your IELTS speaking and writing scores! (more…)

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Better off using ‘better off’

Many students spend hours reading grammar books in order to improve their English. However, they are probably better off reading novels instead.

Most people are familiar with better off as the comparative form of well off (= wealthy). However, better off has other uses in IELTS speaking and writing (Task 2). (more…)

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The university, the school

Before they study at the university, students should spend a year traveling and working.

OK so there’s a difference between university and the university. The same difference applies to school and the school. (more…)

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Older, elder, elderly

Overall, the number of elder people (aged over 60) has increased significantly.

You are unlikely to find elder used to modify a noun like people. In this case older would be much more likely: (more…)

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Character, characters, characteristics

When we travel to new places we get to meet people with different characters.

Literally this means that when we travel we meet people like Mickey Mouse! (more…)

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Popular, famous, infamous

People can now shop for goods online. This makes online shopping more famous than shopping in physical stores.

Generally speaking the following meanings apply: (more…)