Making academic vocabulary count through strategic deployment in oral presentations by Chinese students of English

Michael Cribb, Xuemei Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


When students of English deliver oral presentations at university on academic topics, there is often a dilemma as to whether to incorporate academic vocabulary into their monologues or not. Academic vocabulary can help students to present their ideas concisely and be a ‘badge of identity’ to the academic community. However, acquiring a productive use of these words is problematic due to their abstract nature and low frequency of occurrence. This paper reports on the strategies of Chinese students of English in deploying academic vocabulary while delivering an oral presentation in a third-year undergraduate module. The paper demonstrates how some students succeed by using academic vocabulary in relatively circumscribed ways while some avoid the vocabulary. Less successful strategies are observed if students rely too heavily on academic vocabulary when they do not have a productive knowledge of the words. The paper suggests that language idiosyncrasies may operate which compound the dilemma for teachers and students of English.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-press)
Number of pages14
JournalThe Language Learning Journal
Early online date24 Jan 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jan 2019



This work was supported by a Teaching Development Grant (individual round) from the Higher Education Academy in the UK (grant no: FCS 685).


  • academic vocabulary
  • coherence
  • idiosyncrasy
  • monologue
  • Oral presentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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