Foreign language courses

1 - Work on your writing

  • Leave time to revise and redraft.

2 - The basics

  • Paragraphs should have one clear topic and stick with it.
  • Consider the visual effect of your writing – are the paragraphs clear?
  • Avoid overlong sentences.

3 - Integrate your research – make sure it

  • Supports your point.
  • Flows in your writing.
  • Uses paraphrase as well as quotation.
  • Is referenced correctly.

4 - Expand your vocabulary

  • Make a note of new or specialist vocabulary when you are reading.
  • Consider the audience for your writing and adjust the vocabulary.

5 - For more advice on writing styles and language see

6 - If English is not your first language

7 - If you are, or think you might be, dyslexic visit

The Compass in person or Online.


  • Academic style

    In general, formal academic writing is:

    • Serious and formal – NOT conversational
    • Impersonal – NOT personal
    • Intellectual and objective – NOT emotional
    • Precise and concise – NOT vague and repetitive

      One way to achieve this is to remove I, we and you.

  • Grammar

    Language Resources - Grammar

    Grammar is often referred to as the set of rules of a language, but it is more appropriate to consider it a resource for expressing ideas. It gives you a choice of how to write. These choices can affect the content of your writing, the organisation of it, and your relationship with the reader.

    At a basic level, sentences contain the following: a capital letter at the beginning, a full stop or other punctuation at the end, and a verb (doing word). Every sentence you write should make sense independently, even without the one before or after it

  • punctuation

    Language Resources - Punctuation

    Getting punctuation right shows that you are a careful writer who cares about detail. Getting it obviously wrong makes you seem sloppy or rushed. This can have the effect of mildly irritating the reader to complete misunderstanding of parts of your text.

    Do you know the differences between:

    - Its and it’s?

    - A colon and a semi-colon?

    - Commas here: The painting, which I bought last week, is perfect for my new house.

      But not here:    I’m going to put the painting that I bought last week in my new house.

  • Vocabulary


    Choosing the right vocabulary in your assignments is important. It makes your writing:

    • More Accurate

      The right vocabulary helps you communicate your ideas clearly and precisely.

    • More Professional

      The right vocabulary creates an academic style that gives the reader confidence your text is serious, reliable and knowledgeable.