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Lecture Vocabulary

It is often possible to predict some of the vocabulary that might be used in lectures. For instance, if you know the topic in advance, you can always look ahead in your reading to see the sort of words that the lecturer is likely to use. Lecturers will often make their lecture notes or powerpoint slides available in advance of the lecture, through an internet platform such as Moodle, and this also gives you the opportunity to do some vocabulary work ahead of the listening event.

However, even if some level of preparation is always possible for a lecture, there is always an element of the unexpected too. For example, there is no set pattern as to how the lecturer is required to speak. A lecturer may, for instance, give a clear, well-signposted lecture with marker phrases such as ‘In the first part of the lecture, I will…’, ‘Let’s move on now to the second part of my lecture today’. On the other hand, lecturers may choose not to use ‘neat’ turns of phrase and sentences, and the structure might thus be less predictable, and more confusing as a result.

Below are some tips and suggestions that our students have found helpful when listening to lectures.

Key advice

1. What kind of language will help to follow the lecture?

2. Example: Marker language in a lecture transcription

3. Link to a sample of the online course 'Listening to Lectures' - the full e-course is available for purchase here.

What kind of language will help me follow the lecture?

Good lectures will contain lots of signs and signals (signposting language) to help you to follow what is being said. Some of these signalling phrases are indicated in the table below.

These are only a few of the many signalling devices that can be used and the table is very simplified – there will be many other phrases that you will discover in the lectures you attend.

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