Thompson Rivers University

Improve your Academic Vocabulary

  Posted on: March 23, 2015

Many students are not exposed to academic or professional vocabulary outside of University life and therefore speak and write in a colloquial (conversational) style, which can be too informal.  The great news is that with a little effort, and a lot of fun, you can improve your vocabulary and make your academic writing richer.

Try watching one hour per week of a TV show that takes place in a professional setting, and write down 4-5 professional words the actors use during the show. Look up the meaning and proper use of each word, and incorporate these new words into your spoken and written communication over the next few days.

Here are some examples of current and past TV shows that frequently use professional and academic vocabulary:

  • Crime Dramas: NCSI, Criminal Minds, Bones
  • Political/Legal: The Good Wife, Boston Legal
  • Medical: House, ER
  • Science/Science Fiction: Big Bang Theory, Star Trek Next Generation

Another method you can employ is to practise your vocabulary when speaking to and corresponding with TRU staff and Faculty.  The first place you will do this is in your assignments, but you can also test out your vocabulary when sending emails, and during appointments or after-class conversations.  Do not be afraid to tell people you are doing this, and seek their feedback on your word choices.

The English language has a rich array of words you can choose from and have fun exploring.