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Unit 1

READING (Encyclopedia articles) ………...….. 2

Overview exercise ……………………………. 4
Encyclopedia article …………….……… 5
Close study exercise ……………………. 6

WRITING (Definition) ……………………....... 8

Short definitions ……………………………. 8
Extended definitions …………………..… 11
Writing tips ……………………………. 15
Manuscript form ……………………………. 19

REMEDIAL WORK ………………………... 21

Relative clauses in definitions ……………. 21

VOCABULARY ………………………............ 24
Academic Word List (AWL) 1 …………..… 24

PRESENTATIONS ……………………...… 25
Extended definitions …………………..… 25

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 1

READING: Encyclopedia articles
Traditionally, an encyclopedia is a book or set of books
containing articles on many different topics, usually
arranged in alphabetical order. An encyclopedia
typically covers all branches of knowledge but it may
also specialize in one particular branch, such as science
& technology, medicine, oceans, transport, biography,
and so on. Nowadays, encyclopedias are also
commonly found online, a trend which is increasing.

Encyclopedias are reference tools, often used as the starting point in basic research. They do
not generally cover a topic as deeply as a textbook would, nor are they as up to date as a
periodical article. Their main value lies in the wide range of background information they can
provide. Encyclopedia articles typically define topics, classify them, describe them,
exemplify them, and provide a historical perspective.

Because encyclopedias are used as a source of factual information, they have to give clear,
unbiased and unambiguous information. Because they cover a vast range of topics, they need
to be well organized to enable the user to locate the information he needs quickly.

Certain features help achieve this required accessibility. For example, a good print
encyclopedia will have an index at the back, or in a separate volume, which lists all the topics
in the book along with their page numbers. A typical article is well-researched and well-
written, often by an expert or team of experts. It will have an informative title, headings, and
sub-headings to aid navigation through it. In addition, it will contain clear topic sentences at
the start of paragraphs; typographical help such as boldface and italics; lists for easier access
to information; a variety of illustrations; a table of contents at the start and a summary at the
end; a list of references and related articles for further study; and links to related websites.

Online encyclopedia articles will also have most of these features and, in addition, offer
multimedia content such as sound files and videos. Online encyclopedias also have one
further advantage: they can be updated much faster than the print versions.

Navigating an online encyclopedia article is not difficult but the article sometimes offers so
many alternative sources of information that it can be difficult not to lose one’s focus. The
article below about cartography is taken from the main article on maps in the online version
of Encyclopaedia Britannica. For a better understanding of the article’s various features and
how they work, it is recommended that you visit the actual page at:

In all the reading exercises in English 101, a simple two-step procedure is recommended to
obtain a good understanding of an article: an overview followed by a close study. First, ask
yourself what, if anything, you may already know about the topic you are going to read about
and skim the article quickly to understand its organization and main ideas. Second, make a
close study of the text to understand the specific details.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 2

This approach is summarized in the diagram below:

Reading encyclopedia articles

Overview Close study

• Ask yourself what you already • Read the text closely for specific
know about the topic. details.
• Skim the article, looking for: • Re-read and take notes, if
main ideas necessary.
important secondary ideas • Read actively, asking yourself
the article structure questions and making connections
any helpful features: with previous learning.
typography • Look up important words you need
web links to know but ignore those you don’t.
bibliography • If necessary, explore the given links
sidebars with additional info or google related information.
• Scan the article for special
• Read the introduction.
• Read the conclusion or summary.
• Read the topic sentences if they
appear to be helpful.

The main article (“map”) on Encyclopaedia Britannica

The link to the

cartography article

The sidebar menu

Web links and

related articles Illustrations



An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 3

Exercise 1: Overview
Skim quickly through the articles below on cartography and the Mercator projection;
then answer the following questions:

What do you already know about maps?

1. How would you define the term “map”?
2. What different kinds of maps do you know?
What about atlases, Google Earth, satnavs, globes?
3. What different purposes do maps have (for example, the two below)?

4. What did you last use a map for?

5. Think of a typical (flat-surface) world map. Which part of the world is usually found at the
center? Why? Is this the only arrangement of continents found in world maps? (See below.)

6. What are lines of latitude and longitude? How are the lines spaced?

Skim quickly through the two articles on the next page:

7. What is cartography? How can you access the full encyclopedia article?
8. What do you expect will happen if you click on a link such as map?
9. What helpful features does the sidebar menu have? (See above.)
10. Is cartography a new science?
11. Which ancient city was often placed at the center of medieval maps?
12. The discovery of which land led to new techniques of cartography?
13. What is the main purpose of this cartography article?
14. On the Mercator projection map, what is strange about the relative sizes of the countries?
15. On that map, what is different about the spacing of the horizontal and vertical lines?
16. In which century did the Mercator projection appear? How did this map get its name?
17. Which well-known line of latitude is mentioned in the article?
18. What point is the author making when he compares Greenland with the Arabian
19. All the articles in the Article Links section are related to which topic?

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 4

from the Encyclopædia Britannica
Charles F. Fuechsel (Editor)

cartography, the art and science of graphically representing a geographical area, usually on a flat
surface such as a map or chart; it may involve the superimposition of political, cultural, or other
nongeographical divisions onto the representation of a geographical area.

A brief treatment of cartography follows. For full treatment, see map.

Cartography is an ancient discipline that dates from the prehistoric depiction of hunting and fishing
territories. The Babylonians mapped the world in a flattened, disk-shaped form, but Ptolemy
established the basis for subsequent efforts in the 2nd century AD with an eight-volume work on
geography that showed a spherical Earth. Maps produced during the Middle Ages followed Ptolemy’s
guide, but they used Jerusalem as the central feature and placed East at the top. These representations
are often called T-maps because they show only three continents (Europe, Asia, and Africa), separated
by the “T” formed by the Mediterranean Sea and the Nile River. More accurate geographical
representation began in the 14th century when portolan (seamen’s) charts were compiled for

The discovery of the New World led to the need for new techniques in cartography, particularly for
the systematic representation on a flat surface of the features of a curved surface
(see projection; Mercator projection). The 17th and 18th centuries saw a vast outpouring of printed
maps of ever-increasing accuracy and sophistication. Noteworthy among the scientific methods
introduced later was the use of the telescope for determining the length of a degree of longitude.
Modern cartography largely involves the use of aerial photographs as a base for any desired map or
chart; the procedures for translating photographic data into maps are governed by the principles
of photogrammetry and yield a degree of accuracy previously unattainable. Satellite photography has
made possible the mapping of features of the Moon and of several planets and their satellites.

By clicking on the Mercator projection link in the paragraph above, the following article and
illustration will appear:

Mercator projection, type of

map projection introduced in 1569 by Gerardus
Mercator. It is often described as a cylindrical
projection, but it must be derived mathematically.
The meridians are equally spaced, parallel vertical
lines, and the parallels of latitude are parallel,
horizontal straight lines, spaced farther and farther
apart as their distance from the Equator increases.
This projection is widely used for navigation
charts, because any straight line on a Mercator-
projection map is a line of constant true bearing
that enables a navigator to plot a straight-line
course. It is less practical for world maps because
the scale is distorted; areas farther away from the equator appear disproportionately large. On a
Mercator projection, for example, the landmass of Greenland appears to be greater than that of the
continent of South America; in actual area, Greenland is smaller than the Arabian Peninsula.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 5

Related Articles
Aspects of the topic cartography are discussed in the following places at Britannica.
Assorted References
major reference (in map (cartography))
application to coal exploration (in coal mining: Mapping)
contribution of
Delisle (in Guillaume Delisle (French cartographer))
Fuller (in R. Buckminster Fuller (American architect): Life)
Mercator (in Gerardus Mercator (Flemish cartographer))
relationship to
geography (in geography: Mapmaking and remote sensing)
geometry (in non-Euclidean geometry (mathematics): Spherical geometry)
study of
Caucasus Mountains (in Caucasus (region and mountains, Eurasia): Study and exploration)
Europe (in history of Europe: Order from disorder)
Himalayas (in Himalayas (mountains, Asia): Study and exploration)
Río de la Plata (in Río de la Plata (estuary, South America): Mapping of the basin)

Exercise 2: Close Study

Carefully re-read the articles above on cartography and the Mercator projection;
then answer the following questions:

1. What is the purpose of the introductory paragraph of the article?

2. In your opinion, how might a purely geographical map differ from a political one?
3. Describe what led to the making of the first maps.
4. How did Ptolemy’s map differ from those made by the Babylonians??
5. What are two unusual features of maps made in the early Middle Ages?
6. The illustrations opposite are of two
medieval T-maps. Describe how
how this map got its name.
7. This map is also called a T-
O map. Can you guess what
the ‘O’ represents?

8. Which part of the world was known as the New World?

9. Why do you think the discovery of the New World led to a need for “the systematic
representation on a flat surface of the features of a curved surface”?
10. Which scientific discovery greatly improved the accuracy of maps?
11. Internet search: Find out more about “longitude.” Write a short paragraph defining it.
12. What are most modern maps now based on?
13. How are photogrammetry and cartography connected?
14. If Mercator’s map is a “cylindrical projection,” where on the cylinder would the Poles be?
15. What single word is used in the article for “line of longitude”?

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 6

16. On Mercator’s map, the parallel meridians and lines of latitude are spaced at 30° intervals:
What happens to the lines of latitude as one moves farther away from the Equator?
Can you explain why this occurs?
What effect does this have on the representation of land on the map?
17. Dictionary work. Use a dictionary if you are not sure of the meaning of a key word.
What is the correct meaning of “bearing” as it used on line 10 of the Mercator article?

18. What is the Mercator projection suitable and unsuitable for?

19. Internet search: First, using the simple Mercator projection, make a very rough guess of
the latitude and longitude of KFUPM. Then, go online and check the accuracy of your
estimate. Use degrees, minutes and seconds to give as accurate a location as possible.
Compare your result with your classmates.
20. Identify some of the different types of maps below:

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 7

Writing: Definition
Definition, "the act of stating a precise meaning" (The American Heritage Dictionary), tells
us what something is. Definition is especially important in writing because there is no
opportunity for the reader to seek clarification from the writer about the meaning of a
particular term. Therefore, the writer must clearly and precisely define the meaning of any
terms which may be ambiguous—that is, which have a double meaning—or which he thinks
the reader does not know. The lack of a needed definition, or the use of an imprecise
definition, can result in a breakdown in communication between writer and reader.

The writer must know his reader before he can make a decision about when to define. The
most important factor is the reader's level of knowledge. For example, the student writing a
report on thermodynamics would probably decide not to define the term thermal efficiency if
his audience consisted only of his physics professor. However, he might consider a definition
essential if the report were intended for high school students or for "lay" readers, that is, for
readers outside their particular field of expertise.

The length of a definition can range from a single word, phrase or sentence to a whole book.
Length depends on such factors as the particular complexity of the term, the reader's level of
knowledge, and the writer's purpose in defining. For students, a definition is most often a
small part of a larger piece of writing. For example, just one or two short sentence definitions
may be needed in a composition whose primary purpose is to compare two manufacturing
techniques. Sometimes, however, definition is itself the primary purpose of the writing. In
such cases, a definition could be much longer; these are generally referred to as extended

Definitions can be classified into two principal categories according to their length:


Short Extended

synonym/phrase sentence paragraph +

Short Definitions
Short definitions often consist of a single word or phrase, like those in a dictionary, or they
could be the length of a sentence. They are particularly useful for defining concrete terms or
any terms about which there is already general agreement, such as scientific terms. Writers
sometimes quote definitions directly from an authoritative dictionary or textbook. In this
case, however, quotation marks are usually used, and the source of the definition is usually
stated. Sometimes, one or two additional sentences follow a sentence definition in order to
clarify the term.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 8

Synonym and phrase definitions

Underline the synonyms and phrase definitions in the following sentences:

•The field of robots is designed to give to robots visual perception (sight);

tactile capabilities (touch); dexterity (skill in handling and manipulation);
locomotion (ability to move); and navigation (intelligence to find one's way).
•Cooling towers also present environmental problems since evaporated water
can cause increased precipitation, i.e., rainfall.
•The sale of goods is an agreement by which the vendor (seller) transfers
ownership of goods to the vendee (buyer).
•Both the 30˚ and the 45˚ triangles include two edges that are orthogonal, that
is, mutually perpendicular, to each other.
•Modems, devices linking computers with each other or with information
services, are becoming increasingly powerful and sophisticated.

Sentence definitions

One common type of sentence definition, often referred to as a formal definition, consists of
three elements:

Term Class Specific differences

A meridian is an imaginary line which runs from the North Pole to the South Pole on a
map of the Earth.

The term is the particular word or expression that needs defining (eg Twitter). The class is
the category to which this word belongs (eg an instant messaging service). The specific
differences are those features of the term that make it different from all the other terms that
belong in the same class (eg that allows the user to send short text messages not exceeding
280 characters in length.). The specific differences are usually given in a relative clause or
prepositional phrase that follows the class.

Study the following sentence definitions. In each case, identify the term, class, and specific
differences. (Note that two of the definitions below have a different sequence of elements
from the others.)
•Computer hardware can be defined as the machinery and equipment used in
computer applications.
•We can define carbon footprint as the measure of carbon dioxide which is
produced by a person or organization over a given period of time.
•A paywall is a website feature that allows access only to paying subscribers.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 9

•The process by which a solid changes directly to a vapor without passing
through the liquid phase is called sublimation.
•A word that sounds the same as another word but is spelled differently is
known as a homophone.

Be as specific as possible when defining. For example, use adjectives to specify the class, as
in the Twitter example above (“an instant messaging service”). Also, be sure that the specific
differences really do distinguish the term from other terms in the same class. For instance, in
the Twitter example, an SMS can also be described as “an instant messaging service that
allows the user to send short text messages”—however, unlike Twitter, it is not restricted to
140 characters.

Avoid imprecise classes, such as "thing" or "person," which are much too general. On the
other hand, do not use highly technical words for the class or specific differences unless you
are sure your audience will understand them. A lay reader, for example, will not be helped by
a definition such as "A dictyostele is an amphiphloic siphonostele broken up into a network
of meristeles." However, a professional botanist might appreciate its precision and clarity.

Finally, whenever possible, avoid circularity, which occurs when the term and class, or term
and specific differences, are the same. A formal definition such as "A neutral solution is a
solution which is neutral" will not help the reader in any way.

Exercise 1
Identify weaknesses in the following definitions.

1. A geologist is someone who studies geology.

2. We can define a pencil as a tool for writing.
3. Inorganic substances that occur naturally in the earth are defined as minerals.
4. A thermometer is a thing for measuring heat.
5. A brunch is when you combine breakfast and lunch.

Exercise 2 Short Definitions

Use your general knowledge to write short definitions of some of the following
terms. Focus on the essential characteristics of the term: the class it belongs to
and the specific differences that distinguish it from other terms in the same class.

1. ghutra 11. iPod

2. Facebook 12. lava
3. blackboard 13. electron
4. Blackboard 14. google (verb)
5. blog 15. dictionary
6. experiment 16. flash memory
7. staycation 17. LOL
8. Flickr 18. weather
9. ecotourism 19. climate
10. DN grade 20. YouTube

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 10

Extended Definitions

Often, a single sentence, or a couple of sentences, is insufficient to clarify the meaning of a

particular term; the writer needs to go beyond merely stating its basic meaning. This is
especially true for the definition of broad abstract terms such as "education" or "success,"
where opinions may differ. New terms, like “twitter,” may also require extended definitions
as do many technical terms because of their particular complexity.

We can define an extended definition as any piece of writing consisting of one or more
paragraphs whose purpose is to define a particular term. A one-paragraph extended definition
often begins with a formal sentence definition which acts as the topic sentence. This sentence
is then followed by several others which extend the definition by exemplifying, partitioning,
describing, classifying, comparing, contrasting, and so on. For example, how could you write
an extended definition for the word ghutra to help a foreigner understand the word? After the
initial sentence definition, ghutra could be described in terms of its size, shape, colours and
texture. Ask yourself questions: how is it worn? What are its functions? Are there different
types? Is there a geographical spread for each type? What is known about its history? With an
extended definition, even a familiar word like ghutra requires a good deal of thought.

Exemplification is one of the commonest and most useful ways of supporting the topic
sentence of an extended definition. For example, a definition of the term "allotrope" could be
extended with examples of elements, such as carbon, which have allotropes. A definition of
the term "entropy" (a measure of spontaneous change) could be extended by giving examples
of spontaneous processes, such as ice cubes melting at room temperature or iron rusting.
Description is another common way of extending a definition. A mechanism, for instance,
could be described in terms of its dimensions, its parts, functions and materials.
Classification is also common. For example, a definition of "natural resources" could be
extended by first classifying these resources into two basic types, renewable and
nonrenewable. Analogy is another useful tool: the term ‘diode,’ for example, could be
compared with a water tap in the way the flow of electrons (water) is directed.

The following table gives just a few of the many possibilities for extending a definition:

TOPIC SENTENCE: a formal definition

Illustration (extended example)
Comparison (similarities)
Contrast (differences)
Analogy (comparison of the unfamiliar with the familiar)
Etymology (origin of the term)
Exclusion (what the term is not)
Synonyms (single word with the same meaning)
Classification (division into types)
Partition (division into parts, topics, features, etc.)
Chronology (historical development)
Description (mechanism, process, place, characteristics, etc.)
Causal analysis (causes, effects)

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 11

The following paragraph illustrates an extended definition of the term paywall. It extends the
initial formal definition in a variety of ways:

The first (topic) sentence is a formal Etymology (word origin)



A paywall is a system by which access to a part or to all of a website is

restricted to those who have paid a subscription. The word is derived by analogy
with “firewall”—security measures designed to prevent unlawful access to a Definition
computer. A paywall is found most frequently on websites offering news content.
Causal analysis Typically, it is set up because traditional print media have become less profitable
due to the universal availability of free content on the Internet. There are two types Classification
of paywall: hard and soft. The Times newspaper of London, set up in 2011, is an
example of the former. Visitors to its website are unable to read any articles but
are given instead a choice of subscription packages to sign up to, such as website, Historical
iPad and mobile phone. By contrast, the New York Times operates a soft paywall. background
Visitors here can read up to ten articles per month for free after which the paywall
comes into operation. In general, for quality news and scholarly publications, the
paywall system is a success and so an increasing number of organizations are
likely to establish them in the future.

Contrast Conclusion (optional)

Exercise 3 Model Texts

Analyze the following extended definitions carefully. In each case, identify
(1) the three elements of the formal sentence definition;
(2) the patterns of development used to extend the definition.

Example 1
Carbon footprint

The term carbon footprint can be defined as the measure

of carbon dioxide produced by a person or organization
over a given period of time. Just as a person produces a
trail of footprints when he walks through sand or mud, he
also produces CO 2 emissions through his normal daily
activities. For instance, apart from breathing, which is
unavoidable, a large amount of CO 2 may be produced
through driving to work, watching TV or just having the
lights switched on. A huge amount will be produced by
flying away on vacation. Not everybody has the same size footprint: people living in
developed countries tend to have a much larger carbon footprint than those in less developed
countries. The size of a person’s carbon footprint is becoming increasingly important because
CO 2 is a greenhouse gas and the more we produce, the more endangered our planet becomes.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 12

Example 2

What is a Transmission?
A transmission is a system which carries force from
one place to another or which changes its direction.
Transmissions are used to carry force and motion
from the engine of a power system to the object to
be moved (the load). They can be mechanical, using
parts such as gears, pulleys, cams and levers to
transmit force; hydraulic, using pressure on a fluid
such as water; or electrical, using wires to carry
current from its place of generation to the point
where it will be used.

Example 3
Definition of the Term "System"
A system can be very simply defined as a group of
interrelated or interacting elements forming a
unified whole. Many examples of systems can be
found in the physical and biological sciences, in
modern technology, and in human society. For
example, we can talk of the physical system of the
sun and its planets, the biological system of the
human body, the technological system of an oil
refinery, and the socioeconomic system of a
The respiratory system business organization.

Example 4

The Geiger Counter

The Geiger counter is a device which detects radiation by

means of the ionization of a medium. It consists of a
cylindrical metal tube filled with gas at low pressure and
a long wire along the axis of the tube. The wire is
maintained at a high positive potential (about 103 V) with
respect to the tube. It works in the following way: when a
high-energy particle or photon enters the tube through a
thin window at one end, some of the atoms of the gas
become ionized. The electrons removed from the atoms
are attracted toward the positive wire, and as they do so
they ionize other atoms in their path. This results in a huge number of electrons, which
produces a current pulse at the output of the tube. After the pulse is amplified, it can be either
used to trigger an electronic counter or delivered to a loudspeaker, which clicks each time a
particle is detected.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 13

Example 5
In the following extended definition, find examples of:
• Etymology
• Comparison
• Chronology (historical background)
• Contrast
• Definition
• Description


Twitter can be defined as an instant messaging

service that allows users to send and receive short
text messages of no more than 280 characters
instantaneously. It first started in 2006 as a type of
social network to help people keep in touch and
was limited to 140 characters; however, the
character limit was doubled in 2017. The word
itself is derived from the short high-pitched sound
that a bird makes, but which is also the word to
describe silly or unimportant chatter. “Tweet” is
the word for a twitter message and it is also the
verb form. So, in its most basic form, tweeting
can be defined as the instant communication of
short messages to family and friends about
everyday matters for the purpose of informing and
being informed.

Twitter works in the following way. A user first opens an account at, and can
then start to tweet updates to other tweeters using a computer or mobile phone. The tweeter
can also follow other users by signing up to different accounts. Twitter is comparable to other
instant messaging services provided by Skype, Microsoft and Yahoo but, unlike them, it
cannot send long text messages or provide video. Millions of tweets are sent every day and
some famous tweeters have many hundreds of thousands of followers. Twitter has gone
beyond simple communication with friends and family and is now being used for commercial
and political purposes.

Exercise 5 Extended Definition

Write extended definitions for some of the following. Begin with a
sentence definition; then add support. You may need to research your
topic using an encyclopedia, a textbook or an internet search engine
such as Google.

1. Extend some of the definitions in Exercise 2.

2. smog (etymology?) 11. solar eclipse
3. shisha 12. GCC
4. advertising 13. dollar
5. sophomore (etymology?) 14. acupuncture
6. camels 15. app
7. taser (etymology?) 16. troll (Internet)
8. catch 22 17. encyclopedia
9. tsunami 18. success
10. radar (etymology?) 19. mirage

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 14

Writing Tips: Unity, order of information, planning
The purpose of this section of each unit is to draw your attention to certain aspects of good
writing which will help you write better paragraphs and compositions. In unit 1, these are
unity (the need for a single main idea); the order of information; and finally the need to make
a short informal plan of your paragraph before you start writing.

Paragraphs and compositions require unity. When a paragraph has unity, all the supporting
sentences in the body are directly relevant to the single main idea that was announced at the
start of the paragraph in the topic sentence. This is not always easy to achieve, especially
when the topic of the paragraph is complex. Writers sometimes digress unintentionally from
their purpose and include ideas that, although perhaps interesting, are irrelevant. As a result,
the reader finds it increasingly hard to follow the writer's reasoning or to see the writer's point
among all the unnecessary detail that is included. Unity applies to compositions, too. In a
unified composition, every paragraph is relevant to the overall purpose which was stated in
the introduction at the beginning of the composition.

When revising your work, carefully check every supporting sentence in the paragraph for its
relevance to the topic sentence that you wrote at the start. Eliminate any ideas that do not
clearly contribute to the purpose that is stated in the topic sentence.

Order of Information: extended definitions

Students are usually more concerned with what information to write (the content) than with
how to arrange this information in a meaningful way (the organization). However, poor
organization can often adversely affect the clarity of the content, making it harder for the
reader to understand what the writer is trying to say.

With extended definitions, as with any writing, the information can be arranged in several
ways and it is the writer’s task to decide on the most effective order. The diagram below sets
out some of the possibilities for an extended definition. Writers should always aim to order
their information from the general to the specific.

Extended definition
We can take as an example an extended
Formal definition (topic sentence) definition of the term “satellite.”
Historical background The first sentence is the topic sentence and
Classification this is typically a formal sentence definition of
Description the term. For what comes next, writers should
Exemplification always try and think of the most basic or
Comparison general information. For example, the
Partition etymology (word origin) of a word is often
and so on both useful and interesting and can give an
insight into the essential meaning of the term.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 15

The term satellite, for example, is derived from a Latin word that means an “attendant” or
“bodyguard” and this helps convey the essential meaning of the term as an object that seems
to be following another object around. Any classification of the term should also come early
in the definition—satellites, for example, can be natural or artificial—and this will give the
paragraph a basic structure as you deal in detail with each type in turn. Such details might
include examples of the types, a description of their appearance, functions and purpose,
and so on.

Having found your information and having decided on the most effective way to order it, it is
advisable to spend some time before writing in briefly jotting down the information in the
order that it will be dealt with. Because in English 101 the four main writing tasks are written
in class under exam conditions, it is unlikely that you will have sufficient time to compose a
detailed formal outline. (These will be studied in English 102 when students write a term
report.) For in-class compositions, it is usually enough to devise an informal outline, as
described below.

Planning: rough outlines

While a careful revision of one’s writing can help identify any irrelevant ideas, it is of course
much more efficient to eliminate irrelevant ideas before actually starting to write. Irrelevance
can be eliminated—and the organization of a paragraph or composition can be improved—by
making a rough outline before writing.

An outline is a plan which shows the information that will be used in a paragraph or
composition (the content) and the order of that information (the organization). Writers devise
an outline by analyzing the information which they have gathered from their knowledge (or
from a source), according to their particular purpose in writing. A careful analysis of this
information will show what information should be eliminated for its irrelevance; it will show
gaps where there is insufficient information; and it will show how the relevant information
should be organized.

Planning becomes more essential, and more difficult, as the length and the complexity of the
writing increase. For short, simple pieces of writing—such as a one-paragraph extended
definition—a rough outline consisting of a few main points should be enough. These informal
outlines are sometimes referred to as “scratch outlines.” They don’t require a rigid system of
numbering and lettering, as longer, more detailed outlines do—but it is often helpful to
include indentations to distinguish main points from sub-points. Below is a rough outline for
an extended definition of the term “satellite”:

T.S.: sat = a body that orbits another larger body in space

comes from Latin meaning ‘attendant’
2 types: natural + artificial
Nat.: called a moon
eg Earth’s moon
affects the tides
Artif.: eg communications or weather sat.
History: Sputnik first launched in 1957

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 16

Making a rough plan such as the one above helps the writer to organize his ideas and to see if
he has missed out important information or included information that is not necessary. The
rough outline above could yield the following paragraph:


The term satellite can be defined as a body that orbits

another larger body in space. The term is derived from the
Latin word that meant an “attendant,” someone who serves
another more important person. Basically, there are two
types of satellites: natural satellites and artificial ones.
Natural satellites are generally known as moons. Many
planets have moons including the Earth whose natural
satellite is actually called the Moon. The Earth’s moon has
an effect on the ocean’s tides. By contrast, artificial
satellites are sent into orbit by man to do a particular job
such as to provide weather data or send and receive
communications signals. The first artificial satellite,
Sputnik, was launched in 1957. Today, there are estimated Sputnik
to be at least 3000 satellites orbiting the Earth.

Exercise 1 Unity
The paragraph below does not have unity. Eliminate
irrelevant ideas.

Medical Quarantine
In medicine, the word quarantine can be defined as the period of time in which the movement
of people or animals is severely restricted because of the fear that they may be carrying a
contagious disease. The word itself is derived from the Italian word quarantina, which
means “about forty”. The Italian word for forty is quaranta, for thirty it is trenta and the
word for fifty is cinquanta. Historically, the word quarantine was first used several hundred
years ago when diseases were widespread in Europe. If the sailors on a ship arriving at a
European port were suspected of carrying a contagious disease, no sailor would be allowed to
leave the ship until forty days had passed. During that period, it would become clear if the
sailors carried any diseases or not. Such quarantine was not always effective, however, as
some diseases are contagious before the symptoms appear. Quarantine is also useful for
computers where anti-virus software can identify harmful code and either delete it or
quarantine it in a safe place on your computer.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 17

Exercise 2 Order of information
Number the following six sentences in the order that they should appear
in a paragraph. Your teacher may ask you to write out the paragraph.

However, scientists now know that it is caused when humans are infected by a
single-celled parasite known as a protozoan.
The word is actually derived from two Latin words, mala and aria, which
together mean “bad air.”
Nowadays, it is still a disease that kills thousands of people every year but
modern science has made it much less serious than it was, providing the correct
treatment is followed.
Malaria is a disease that is characterised by fever, chills and sweating.
Ancient Romans gave the disease this name because they believed it was caused
by the foul-smelling swamps located near Rome.
The protozoan is injected into the human’s blood stream by the bite of a female
mosquito that is carrying this parasitic organism.

Exercise 3 Content and order of information

Complete the extended definitions below by adding specific details to
the given sentence-length definitions. Think about the content you will
use and the order you will write it in. An example is given below:

The Chalkboard
A chalkboard is a common classroom device which allows teachers to write
information for their students. Typically, it consists of a smooth wooden panel in
a black or green colour on which the teacher writes in chalk. Chalkboards come in
various sizes but typical classroom ones are often horizontal, approximately 2
metres long by 1 metre wide, and are fixed on the wall at a height that is
convenient for the teacher to write and the students to see. They have existed for
many centuries but are now being gradually replaced by computer technology.

1. A ghutra is a traditional piece of Arab clothing that is worn on the head.

2. An iPad can be defined as a tablet computer designed and manufactured by Apple.
3. Wasta is a method of getting something done by using one’s connections or influence.
4. We can define Facebook as a social networking website that is open to anyone over 13
years of age.

Exercise 4 Planning
Using the informal rough outline below, write a short paragraph-
length extended definition of the word “salary”.

T.S.: salary = payment given to a person for the work they do

Etymology from Latin “sal” meaning “salt”.
Roman soldiers given an allowance to buy salt.
Salt allowance became general word for any payment for work
Compare salary and wage
Sal. = monthly for professional, office work

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 18

Wage = weekly for manual work
Manuscript Form
"Manuscript" is the word used to describe a handwritten or typewritten document such as a
composition or report. A neat, well-formatted manuscript makes a positive impression on the
reader while an untidy one suggests carelessness or a lack of interest in the work. Follow the
guidelines below for first drafts and revisions. (Your instructor may set additional or
alternative guidelines.)


Use a standard size of lined paper (8 inches x 10.5 inches, or 8.5 inches x 11 inches). It
should be white with widely spaced lines. The margin, at least one inch wide (2.5 cm), should
be on the left side of the paper along with any holes. Do not use colored paper or paper which
has been torn from a note book. If you use a word processor to type the revised draft, use
good-quality, white, A4-sized paper. For the first draft, you may use a pencil or pen (blue or
black ink only). For a revised draft, you should use either a pen or a word processor. If you
use a word processor, use a letter-quality printer, and type using a normal font and font size
(such as 12-point or 14-point Times New Roman or Calibri). Your teacher may require online
submissions of revisions rather than hard copies.


At the top right of the paper, identify yourself: write your name, ID number, section number,
and section serial number. Your teacher may also require the date (left or right). Always
leave adequate space between the lines so that your instructor can make comments. Thus, for
first drafts or handwritten revisions, write on alternate lines; for word-processed revisions, the
spacing should be 1.5 or double. On lined paper, you should normally write on one side only
but your teacher may require you to write on both sides of the paper.

The teacher will determine if paragraphs should be indented. If he requires indentation,

indent the first line of every paragraph of your composition about two centimetres. If
indentations are not required, leave one blank line between paragraphs. Leave a margin of
about one inch all around your paper, including the top and bottom edges.


Leave a line before writing the title. Centre it, capitalizing the first and last words, and every
other word except articles, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, for), and the
"to" part of the infinitive. Do not underline the title or put quotation marks around it. Leave
two lines below the title before starting the first paragraph.


Handwriting is important. Clear, legible handwriting puts the reader in a positive frame of
mind from the start, and it makes his task much easier. Untidy handwriting reflects badly on
the writer and, in the worst cases, can result in illegible words which hinder the clear
communication of information. When proofreading, pay particular attention to poorly spaced

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 19

words and to badly formed letters: o's which look like u's, c's which look like e's, uncrossed
t's which look like l's, and so on.
The model below exemplifies the points made above, but always follow your teacher’s
specific instructions.

Leave a margin at
the top, bottom
and sides of your
paper. Never write
inside the lined
Write your ID
details top right.
1 September 2012 Your instructor
Ali Al-Ali may also require
201012340 a date.
Center your title.
WT1: The Definition of Paintball Capitalise the first
and last words, and
any important
words. Leave two
Paintball can be defined as xxxxx xxx xxxxxxx xxxx more lines before
starting your work.
Indents may be xxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxx xx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxx

xxx xxxxxxx xxxxx x xxxxxxx xxxxxx

xxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx x xxxx xxxxxxxx xxxx When writing by

hand, leave 2 or
3 blank lines.
xxx xx xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxxx When using a
computer, use
1.5 or double-
xx xxx xxxxx xx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxx spacing..

xxx xxxx xx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xx

Leave a margin of
x xxxxx xx xxxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxxx
about 1 inch (2.5cm)
on the right side of
your paper.
xxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxx xxx xxxxxx xxxxx

xxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxx xxxx xx xxxxxx xxxx xxx xxxxxx xxx

Leave the bottom two lines empty in order to

create some free space at the bottom of your

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 20

REMEDIAL WORK: Relative clauses in definitions
The purpose of this section of every unit is to draw the students’ attention to some common
major errors in their writing. This unit deals with relative clauses in sentence-length
definitions; other units deal with subject-verb agreement, sentence fragments, and run-on

In the first writing unit, students learnt how to write a formal sentence definition such as “A
pentagon is a geometric shape that has five sides and five angles.” Grammatically, this is a
complex sentence because it consists of an independent clause (A pentagon is a geometric
shape) and a dependent clause (that has five sides and five angles). In the case of a formal
definition, the dependent clause is often a relative clause and so typically contains relative
pronouns like that, who, which, whom, or whose + noun.

Relative clauses often cause students a lot of problems. In this piece of remedial work, we
will look at some common relative clause mistakes. We will focus only on formal sentence
definitions but, of course, relative clauses appear in many other types of sentences.

A. Relative pronouns as SUBJECT

In the examples below, the relative pronoun is the subject of the verb in the dependent
• An anemometer is a device that measures wind speed.
• An astrophysicist is a scientist who applies the laws of physics to the stars and galaxies.
• A canyon can be defined as a steep-sided valley which often has a river running through it.

Three common mistakes occur with this basic structure:

1. omitting the subject relative pronoun completely:

* “An ammeter is a device measures electric current.”

2. adding a second subject to the subject relative pronoun:

* “A pathogen is any agent which it can cause disease in the body.”

3. replacing the subject relative pronoun with a different pronoun:

* “Polythene is a strong light material it is used to make plastic bags.”

Finally, note that the subject relative pronoun can often be omitted completely when the
dependent clause verb is passive. In this case, the be element of the verb must also be
“An ammeter is a device which is used to measure electric current.”

A common error in this case is for students not to omit both elements but to keep one of
* “An ammeter is a device which used to measure electric current.”
* “A fax is an electronic message is sent through a telephone line.”

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 21

(Note that * denotes an incorrect sentence.)
B. Relative pronouns as OBJECT

The relative pronoun can also be the object of the verb in the relative clause, for example:
“An ammeter is a device which electricians use to measure electric current.”

In this case, “electricians” is the subject of the verb “use” while “which” is the object.

A common learner error in this construction is to include a second object after the verb. This
is unnecessary because the object already exists (which):
* “An ammeter is an instrument which electricians use it to measure electric current.”
* “Scanners are devices which people use them to transfer images to a computer.”

C. Relative pronoun WHOSE + NOUN:

Finally, the use of whose + noun often gives students problems:

“A solid is a form of matter whose shape is definite and whose volume is incompressible.”
“An equilateral triangle is a geometric shape whose angles and sides are all equal.”

Because “whose” shows possession, learners sometimes incorrectly replace “whose” with
“which” or “who” and a possessive adjective such as “its,” “his,” or “their.” This results in
the following errors:
* “An equilateral triangle is a geometric shape which its angles and sides are all equal.”
* “Marine biologists are scientists who their work involves the study of plants and
animals that live in the oceans.”

Exercise 1 Relative clause errors in sentence definitions

Find and correct the relative clause errors in the following sentence
definitions. Be careful: not all sentences are incorrect.

1. Evaporation is a process it changes a liquid into a gas.

2. An element is a substance cannot be broken down into simpler substances by chemical means.
3. A seismograph can be defined as an instrument which it records seismic waves.
4. We can define pressure as the force which exerted divided by the supporting area.
5. A catalyst is a substance scientists use it to speed up a chemical reaction.
6. Coulombs are units which used to measure the amount of charge in a current.
7. The equator is an imaginary line that circles the surface of the earth halfway between
the two poles.
8. A widow is a woman who her husband has died.
9. A tsunami is an enormous sea wave caused by an earthquake below the ocean bed.
10. A computer-controlled device can sense and respond to changes in the environment is
known as a robot.
11. An evergreen is a tree or bush which its leaves do not fall in winter.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 22

12. A ring tone can be defined as the sound which made by a phone when someone is calling it.


NOUN: It can represent a person, thing, place or quality. Examples are man, chair, USA, joy.
Because of the bad weather the family decided to stay in their hotel.

PRONOUN: It stands in place of a noun. Examples are he, it, they, them.
Ali bought several books. He bought them for his computer studies.

RELATIVE PRONOUN: It stands for a noun in a relative clause, eg who, that, which, whose.
A submarine is a ship that can sail underwater.

VERB: It describes an action or state. Examples are run, be, seem, shout, drive.
Ali was already in the Library when his friend arrived.

SENTENCE: A group of words that usually contains a subject and a verb and expresses a
complete idea.
The plane landed at Heathrow Airport.

CLAUSE: A group of words containing a subject and a verb. It is often only part of a sentence
but may also form a complete sentence..
which measures temperature although nobody wanted it they used it

INDEPENDENT CLAUSE: A clause that forms a complete sentence.

He went back to his room. The Moon revolves around the Earth.

DEPENDENT CLAUSE: A clause that does not form a complete sentence. It depends on
another clause, the independent clause.
after the rocket was launched which gives the definitions of words

RELATIVE CLAUSE: A type of dependent clause that usually starts with a relative pronoun.
who lives next door whose father is the head of the company

SUBJECT: Usually a noun or pronoun that comes before the verb and performs the action.
The examiner asked some hard questions. Speeding causes accidents.

OBJECT: Usually a noun or pronoun that receives the action of the verb.
The examiner asked some hard questions. Speeding causes accidents.

ACTIVE SENTENCE: A sentence in which the subject performs the action of the verb.
The mechanic repaired my car. They don’t allow smoking here.

PASSIVE SENTENCE: A sentence in which the subject is the receiver of the verb’s action.
My car was repaired by the mechanic. Smoking is not allowed here.

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 23

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 24
The English 101 vocabulary component consists of the first six sub-lists of the Academic
Word List (AWL) and selected chapters from English Vocabulary in Use (EViU). Before the
midterm examination (class 22), students should have studied AWL sub-lists 1 to 3 and EViU
chapters 8, 9, 23 and 26. For the latter, refer to the book.

There are 60 words on AWL sub-list 1 (below), many of which students should already be
familiar with. They can quickly find definitions, exercises, and games for these words on the
following websites: Teachers will also find there some useful tools for making vocabulary
quizzes and exercises.

When studying the words below, students should learn the basic meaning of the words as
well as the different forms of the headword. It will help to compile a vocabulary list with the
word and its various forms placed into a clear context. An example is given below for the
first word, analysis:

analysis (n): the division of a physical or abstract whole into its constituent parts, usually for the purpose of studying it to
determine its nature or composition. (
eg The analysis of the liquid showed that it contained many impurities.
analyse (v): eg The managers analysed the company’s latest sales figures. (also analyzed)
analytic (adj); analytical (adj): eg He has a very analytic mind and realised the problem immediately.
analyst (n): eg They hired an analyst to re-examine all the experimental data.

1. analysis 21. established 41. occur

2. approach 22. estimate 42. percent
3. area 23. evidence 43. period
4. assessment 24. export 44. policy
5. assume 25. factors 45. principle
6. authority 26. financial 46. procedure
7. available 27. formula 47. process
8. benefit 28. function 48. required
9. concept 29. identified 49. research
10. consistent 30. income 50. response
11. constitutional 31. indicate 51. role
12. context 32. individual 52. section
13. contract 33. interpretation 53. sector
14. create 34. involved 54. significant
15. data 35. issues 55. similar
16. definition 36. labour 56. source
17. derived 37. legal 57. specific
18. distribution 38. legislation 58. structure
19. economic 39. major 59. theory
20. environment 40. method 60. variable

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 25

PRESENTATIONS: Extended definition
During the semester, students will give one or more presentations
of around 3 to 4 minutes using only note cards as a memory aid.
PowerPoint, the blackboard, or other visual aids should not be
used. Teachers should schedule roughly a half dozen
presentations for the end of each of the four core units with the
topics being connected to the particular rhetorical mode of the
writing component. For example, in unit 1 a half dozen or so
students will give extended definitions; in unit 2 the next half
dozen will speak about problems and solutions or causes and
effects; in unit 3, the topics will be based on comparison; and in
unit 4, they will be based on argument. As mentioned above, if
time allows, students can give more than one presentation during
the semester.

Order of speakers

As a general rule, it is advisable not to follow ID number order when drawing up the schedule
of speakers so students should be allowed to draw lots and leave it to chance. Speakers need
at least a week’s notice to prepare their presentation so determining the order of speakers for
the whole semester is probably best done as early as possible. Presentations can be done
individually, in pairs, or in groups as long as the students all do an equal amount of
preparation and speak for roughly the same amount of time.

Definition topics

Teachers can select the terms for definition or can let students choose. Terms should be
chosen for their interest value. Where students are allowed to choose their own term,
concepts from Arab culture provide a good resource and have the added advantage of being
new to the teacher—interest is created through the information gap that the student can fill.
Abstract terms such as “happiness” and “success” require thought and can also be productive
as can relatively new terms like ‘lurker” and “blogosphere”. Presentations need not be on the
theme—any subject is valid.


Students should first of all identify themselves and then identify the term they are going to
define Presentations that deal with an extended definition can closely follow the written
model, that is, a topic sentence consisting of a formal sentence definition followed by an
elaboration which could involve description, etymology, historical background, classification,
causal analysis, comparison, and so on. A formal conclusion will not always be necessary.


Students are not allowed to use PowerPoint or other visual aids so one of the key features is
their delivery. They must not read out their presentation but can refer to brief notes written on
note cards. The tone is relaxed, informal and conversational. The delivery should be

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 26

authoritative with students speaking slowly and clearly, moving and making appropriate
gestures, and maintaining eye contact with the audience.
Refer to the checklist below:

Checklist for English 101 oral presentations

Does the student give his presentation within the set time limits?
Does he introduce himself and identify the topic?
Does he show clear divisions between different parts of his speech?
Does he speak loudly, slowly and clearly enough to be easily understood?
Does he pronounce his words, especially key words, correctly?
Does he use grammar correctly?
Does his voice sound natural and relaxed?
Does he sound interested and enthusiastic?
Is his delivery confident and authoritative?
Does he occasionally use Arabic without realising it (shismuh)?
Does he have any voice mannerisms that need eliminating (coughs, “okay?”, “errr”, “right”)?
Is he dependent on reading his presentation?
Does any memorisation sound unnatural?
Does he position himself correctly at the front of the class?
Does he move and make appropriate gestures that support his speech?
Does he maintain eye contact with his audience?
Does he end his speech effectively?

A marking sheet

A simple marking sheet is given below. Teachers are free to modify it or use their own.

English 101 Oral Presentation Marking Form

Name: ID#: SEC/SN:

Presentation topic:

1. Delivery:

2. Body language:

3. Content:

4. Organization:

5. Overall impression:

Additional comments: Grade:

An Introduction to Academic Discourse (4th ed.) T131 & 132 page 27