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Using English for Academic Purposes: Speaking in Academic Contexts

Example Web Site and/or Technical Equipment Required


Website Example:

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Computer(s), Internet access, projector (optional), speakers and/or headphones

Activity Description

This comprehensive guide has readings with some integrated exercises that include an introduction to academic speaking, presentation, pronunciation, features, symbols, functions, group work, a checklist, and multiple exercises to apply all. Assign students whose goal is transitioning to higher education to work through the guide independently, assign specific parts, or use specific sections in class to prepare students for the demands of speaking academically in college and university. Use the sample activity to have students practice syllable stress in their pronunciation.


  1. Make sure that the site is not blocked at your school before using it with students.
  2. If you would prefer to use an activity other than the one on Word Stress, go through the site’s speaking exercises to find one that suits your teaching objectives and to ensure that it is appropriate for your students’ abilities. (Select the Exercises button in the left hand navigation pane.)
  3. After you choose an activity, complete it yourself in order to plan an introduction to the exercises and anticipate students’ questions and difficulties.
  4. All these exercises run in a new window (or a new tab depending on your settings). Make sure pop-up blocker is disabled or set it to allow pop-ups from this site.
  5. The audio is provided in a variety of formats: RealPlayer (RP), Windows Media Player (WMP), Quicktime Player(QT) or Flash Player (FP). For the exercise you select for students to do, make sure the computer(s) have the appropriate audio player installed. You can download the players by selecting the icons for the players, provided on the main Listening Exercises page . (Select the Exercises button in the left hand navigation pane to see the icons.)
  6. Java is also required for some of the site’s exercises, so make sure it is installed, too, if the exercise you select requires it.


The sample pronunciation exercise is a multiple choice exercise on Word Stress using terms from the business world.

  1. Open the Example Web Site (above) to use the sample exercise on Pronunciation/syllable stress. Select the Exercizes button on the left and then choose the Word Stress activity. (If this topic does not meet your students' level of English or your teaching topic, choose another by going to the main page and selecting the Exercises button.)
  2. Have students choose the correct stress patterns for the words shown. The main stress is shown in CAPITAL (e.g. CApital) letters by selecting the button to the left of each answer you think is correct. Note: incorrect answers are penalized. If you do not know the answer, do not guess, since wrong answers are penalized.
  3. If they select the wrong button, simply have them select the correct one to change it. If they have selected a button with a guess and wish to deselect all buttons for that question, just have them select the lit red button.
  4. When finished, tell them to select the Click When Finished Button at the end of the test. Their score will appear below it, and all correct answers will be lit with a green button. Have them check over the "green lit" answers they did not know to assist in knowing what areas they still need to study.

Teacher Tips

Other specific exercises include the following:

  • Presenting a seminar paper (under Presentation on the breadcrumb trail at the top of the page)
  • Pronunciation (under Pronunciation on the breadcrumb trail at the top of the page)
    • Business (word stress)
    • General (International Phonetic Alphabet)
    • Vowels
    • Transcription (IPA)
  • Spoken forms of mathematical and scientific symbols (under Symbols on the breadcrumb trail at the top of the page)
  • Working in groups (pair work – lectures, class, library, seminar, student room, studying, language lab, student desk, students eating; group work – seminar, library, silence, thief; and general – The Evil Landlady, Business Mazes) (under Working in groups on the breadcrumb trail at the top of the page)
  • Rhetorical functions in academic speaking (Giving instructions, Classifying/categorizing, Describing processes, Comparing and contrasting, and Cause and effect) (under Functions on the breadcrumb trail at the top of the page)

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  • Advanced


Basic Communication

  • (0.1) Communicate in interpersonal interactions

Basic Communication

  • (7.2) Demonstrate ability to use critical thinking skills
  • (7.3) Demonstrate ability to use problem-solving skills
  • (7.4) Demonstrate study skills
  • (7.7) Demonstrate the ability to use information and communication technology
  • (7.1) Identify or demonstrate effective skills and practices in accomplishing goals
  • (7.5) Understand aspects of and approaches to effective personal management

Basic Communication

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN200091-A2 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.