A feast of academic English


in Spotlight, TOEFL

The word feast can be used several ways. Today I’m using it to describe a book – Writing to Learn – by William Zinsser. Writing to Learn is a feast because it contains a generous supply of enjoyable academic English.

Writing to Learn

Part I of Writing to Learn is about writing, education, and writing to learn. Many people will find it interesting and helpful. But it’s the last two-thirds of the book that I want to you to know about.

Part II of Writing to Learn contains many examples – about 175 pages – of good, enjoyable academic English. Zinsser divides Part II into several chapters:

  • Earth, Sea and Sky
  • Art and Artists
  • The Natural World
  • Writing Mathematics
  • Man, Woman and Child
  • Writing Physics and Chemistry
  • Worlds of Music

In each chapter, Zinsser briefly describes good writing in that discipline, or subject area, then fills the chapter with short examples of good writing.

Benefits of Writing to Learn

Reading Writing to Learn can help you in at least three ways:

If you want to improve your academic vocabulary, Writing to Learn is a good book to read. As you read it, you will meet a large amount of academic vocabulary in a friendly, interesting environment. By the end of the book, you will have made significant progress on increasing your academic vocabulary.

As you read Writing to Learn, you may enjoy some of the examples so much that you’ll want to read the books they were taken from. If you do, your academic vocabulary will grow even more.

Zinsser is a very good writer, and the examples he chooses were all written by good writers. As you read Writing to Learn, you are sure to pick up ideas about good academic writing.

Buying Writing to Learn

Writing to Learn is available from bookstores and online booksellers, like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. If you can, save money by purchasing a used copy from Amazon. If you’d like to look at the book before you buy it, you can See Inside at the Barnes and Noble web site (scroll down; it’s book #5).

Warren Ediger

Related reading: The power of reading and listening

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