Understanding Academic Language

Understanding Academic Language



Is There an Absolute Truth?

Notably, no student goes to school adept in academic language; therefore, it is imperative to help students to understand the academic discourse using, for example, a passage from an article. An online article, “Is there an absolute truth?” by Wallace, is a good example of the academic material that can help students to develop the academic thinking. In the first paragraph, the main thesis of the author is to provoke a critical view of what entails truth and what does not, by establishing whether reality represent “truth”, or “not true.” Briefly, Wallace contends that we have never learned to differentiate between reality and existence of truth, the same way we realize on the matters of faith that people cannot agree on a singular, absolute-faith (Wallace, 2013).

Basing the article in a class situation, students can analyze the paper using two ways: the language of the discipline and, the instructional language. The language of the discipline borrows from the idea that the students can analyze the article by using alliterations, axioms and class struggles. The language of the discipline focuses on understanding an academic material by using words and terminologies related to that discipline. Instructional language, on the other hand, uses textual clues to support an analysis of the passage or text. Preferably, student should the language of the discipline to discuss the article in a class conversation. Participation of the students in class helps them to understand different terminologies used in different disciplines. It is important to note that every discipline is unique, and there is a difficulty face by students when trying to discuss issues relating to different subjects. Therefore, using the language of the discipline can promote a critical analysis of a concept in a passage or a text, and help the student to develop the academic language when speaking. From the article, students can first list the terms used. For example, the article borrows from a philosophical argument and therefore, the student can note the use of contradicting words that are meant to provoke their thinking. These are the key words in philosophical language. Terminologies used in the article are, for example, “right” and “true.” Additionally, it is important to note that these are the most important terms when understanding what the author wanted to say. The next step involves establishing the relationship between the terms. For instance, the Wallace creates a gap seeking for more clarification when he identifies the problem of existence between the truth and the reality. The student should also categorize the terms and judge their specific usage, in order to distinguish their appropriateness in usage and to determine the relevance of the text. According to Wallace, he projects the notion that the idea of “truth” and “not true” depends on our state of minds; therefore, the search for an absolute truth will be a never-ending debate (Wallace, 2013).

Nevertheless, there is a criterion which can be used when assessing the student’s work. Academic writing skills must demonstrate good vocabulary use, good sentence structures. In addition, the student’s work should demonstrate good essay structuring, that is, the work should have an introduction, body and a conclusion. The work should identify the thesis, or the problem statement, and have a good flow of the arguments.


Wallace, J.W. (2013). Is There an Absolute Truth? Stand for Reason.

Retrieved from: http://www.str.org/articles/is-there-an-absolute-truth#.VJC1NaJbfcs

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