How can you know which words are the most important in a language? One way linguists find this out is by taking large samples of language and storing that in a computer database. They can run tests and analyses on the data, such as finding the most common and least common words in a language. This is called corpus linguistics.
More recently, some researchers have looked at written and spoken academic language to find the most common words used at the college level. This list is called the Academic Word List, or AWL. If you are preparing for college in the U.S. or some type of college entrance test (including the TOEFL), these words are essential to learn.
There are many websites that use the AWL and provide exercises to learn these words. Here are just a couple examples that you may find helpful:
Writing a five-paragraph essay is one of the most important skills you need to succeed on the independent writing section of the TOEFL (and many other tests including the GRE and GMAT) and in order to write papers for American college classes.
Americans love hamburgers more than you thought!
One easy way to remember how to do this is to think of your essay like it’s a hamburger. You can find a million examples like this online (just type “essay hamburger” into Google Images). College papers usually must be at least several pages long (and often can be 10-20 pages long) but they can still follow the “hamburger model.”
The basic idea:
TOP BUN = Paragraph 1 = Introduce the topic and present the argument you are trying to make (thesis)
TOMATO = Paragraph 2 = First type of support for your argument, with at least one specific example
LETTUCE = Paragraph 3 = Second type of support for your argument, with at least one specific example
MEAT PATTY = Paragraph 4 = Third type of support for your argument, with at least one specific example
BOTTOM BUN = Paragraph 5 = Conclusion; repeat your main argument and find a good way to end. For example, make a prediction about the future.
Some essay hamburger examples:
This model can also be use for writing a single paragraph:
There are many idioms in English related to animals. To “horse around” means to play, act silly, and “goof off,” usually when you are really supposed to be doing something serious. When someone is playing at their job, sometimes we say: “Quit horsing around!”
Our English-as-a-Second-Language School in Duluth. Georgia, encourages students to study hard and play hard! So, at CCB School, you can horse around a little bit, but make sure to do your homework!