10 Resources for Academic Writing

Here are some resources that can help you with your academic writing. These are resources I have been using with my students.

The Academic Word List (AWL)

As discussed by Nathan Hall on the TESOL Blog, we can classify vocabulary into three tiers, and focusing on learning the words in Tier 2 - that is, the words used across disciplines - can help you better comprehend and write academic English. This is an important skill for college writing and for TOEFL/IELTS test preparation. Studying the words on the Academic Word List (AWL) developed by Averil Coxhead will help you improve your command of Tier 2 words. Do a search for "academic word list activities" or "tier 2 vocabulary practice" and you will find many websites that can help you practice Tier 2 vocabulary.

Purdue OWL

Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL) has many wonderful tutorials and activities to help you improve your academic writing skills. Topics include pre-writing, outlining, grammar, and proofreading,

TOEFL Writing Preparation

The TOEFL writing section has two parts - a 30-minute independent writing task and a 20-minute integrated writing task. For the integrated writing task, you write a response to a question related to a reading passage and audio lecture. TOEFL Resources' YouTube video offers a nice practice activity for the integrated writing task. (You can find a transcript of the audio lecture here.)

Google Docs and Microsoft Office Online

At first, I was using Google Docs (via Google Drive) with my online students. However, I have recently changed to using Microsoft Office Online. Why the switch? What I love about MS Office Online is that you can create and edit documents both online and on your computer! Having the actual documents on my computer (via OneDrive) makes it so much easier to organize my instructional workflow.

I can easily create, organize and access folders and documents on my hard drive, and I can easily create and replicate documents to give to my students for their homework. I found this process to be very clunky and time-consuming when I was using Google Docs, because those docs cannot live on your computer, only in the cloud.

Secondly, during live lessons -- while we are talking with each other via Skype or Zoom -- just as with Google Docs, students and I can collaborate on the same document. For collaborative editing of a doc, I've found it works more smoothly for me to use the online version of the document vs. the document on my hard drive's OneDrive folder. After the lesson, when I open the document on my computer's OneDrive folder, that document, of course, reflects all of the changes made online during the live lesson.

Of course, you can use Microsoft Office completely online, just like Google Docs, but I much prefer the combination of using it on my computer and online, which is not possible with Google Docs.

More Resources

Grammar Practice Activities (LearnEnglishFeelGood.com)

Phrasal Verbs (Ginger Software)

Adjectives, Verbs and Nouns + Prepositions (ESL 2000)

Gerunds and Infinitives (University of Toronto)

Six Websites to Help You Improve Your Writing (Blog de Cristina)

Advice for Writing Your Doctoral Thesis (DoctoralWritingSIG)

  1. Write so that all your potential readers will understand you and will want to stay engaged as they continue reading your thesis.
  2. Use strong verbs that will capture your readers' interest.
  3. Use concrete examples to explain abstract concepts.
  4. Read examples of writing styles that you admire, and ask yourself why you like it.

Did you enjoy this list of resources? Which ones did you find most helpful? Do you have some resources to share? Please comment below!

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