What is English?

The English language is the most spoken language in the world and is the international language of business and the internet!

The English language belongs to the West Germanic language family. Modern English is derived from Middle English, which is derived from Old French and Latin.

Spoken English is not completely the same as Academic English which is taught in schools. It includes:


  • reading and understanding your study materials
  • writing about your subject.
  • describe an object or situation
  • describe a process or how something works
  • explain something.
  • the types of text used (for instance essays, reports, research articles or summaries)
  • their vocabulary and expressions
  • how these texts are structured and organised.

Much of academic English is about expressing the relationship between ideas. Although the language may be more complex than in everyday English, good academic writers aim to be as clear, precise and simple as possible. They think about what their readers know already and aim to guide them towards less familiar areas and topics.

The ability to write in an academic style is something you develop as part of your university study. It is difficult to give overall ‘rules’ on the way to write for a university course, as academic subjects vary in


Main features of academic English

  • is usually formal in tone and impersonal in style
  • avoids contractions or shortened forms of verbs, such as won’t, doesn’t or it’s
  • avoids using a linking word such as ‘and’ or ‘but’ at the beginning of a sentence
  • avoids personal pronouns such as I, me, you, your
  • may use the passive form of verbs
  • avoids verbs that are composed of multiple words, such as ‘give up’, ‘put up with’
  • tends to employ a cautious way of explaining findings, using expressions such as ‘may’, ‘it is possible that…’, ‘could’
  • may use specialised vocabulary.


Literacy in schools

A quote I read sums this up beautifully. It said something like this:

From age 5 to 8 children learn to read. From age 8 to 18 children read to learn.


Literacy in primary schools

Through all the years of compulsory schooling, English is an integral part of learning. After all, ALL subjects, including maths will rely on English being spoken, written and understood. The teaching of English (literacy) begins with the learning of sounds (phonemes and graphemes) alongside the alphabet. This will progress into digraphs and blending sounds to create words. These words will gradually lead to simple sentences and progress into compound and complex sentence structures.

The National Curriculum breaks down the teaching of Literacy into


Literacy will still focus on the three areas of:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking and listening
  • Spelling grammar and punctuation

Literacy in secondary schools

By the time children reach secondary school, children are expected to be much more independent in their learning and be critical using more advanced texts, including Shakespeare.

How can Redbridge Tuition help?

Redbridge Tuition has specialist, full-time English tutors who are passionate about teaching English. Our specialist tuition in English has led to our consistent success over the last 15 years. Our English courses are designed to help ease some of the angst that many students face when thinking about studying English.

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