If you are studying in a British university you will be required to do a large amount of writing, whatever your subject. Some people distinguish between "essays" and "reports", and you may also know some other names for written assignments. However, sometimes the same name is used for very different types of assignment, and different names are used for very similar types of assignment.

Some of these assignments are more common in some disciplines than in others. For example, in business Case Studies are very common, in law Problem Questions are very common, while in history and philosophy Essays are very common.

Three thousand examples of proficient British university assignments from more than 30 disciplines, such as business, engineering, law, biology, sociology and history have been collected. These form the BAWE corpus. By analysing these assignments 13 basic Genre Families of student writing can be identified and each one has been given a specific name.

The 13 Genre Families are:

Here is some more information about the background to identifying these Genre Families.

Note that the names that have been given to these assignment families have very specific meanings on this site, but you will probably find that your lecturers and your fellow students use these names much more loosely – they may for example call most written assignments "essays", and they may use the terms "essay" and "report"  interchangeably.

Try this Task to check that you understand about the BAWE project.


Task 1

Choose the correct answers for these questions about the project.



Hi .
I'm from srilanka. I am learnig english for 4 months, becaous, i am going to do ielts exam, but my writing section is very bad , i should Write an essay and letter, please help me .

Hi aslamlk88,

This is actually part of the site which focuses on writing for academic purposes rather than IELTS exam preparation.  For information about and practice on IELTS take a look at our IELTS section, which you can find here.  You'll find tips and advice there as well as IELTS practice papers.

Another very good place for you to visit is the British Council's Take IELTS site, which contains a wealth of information about the exam and a wide range of preparation tips and practice materials for you to use.  You'll find advice there about all the parts of the exam, including the writing section, as well as practice papers and sample answers, so you can see a good model of the various writing texts required.

I hope that helps you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

hi peter 
thanks for your advise...insha allah i will ..
your faithfully. 

hi. l'm a turkish. ı have studied english for years. but my writting is very very bad. ı cannot write essay, reports..etc. please help me.

hi everybody ,
i am new to this site and i have one question about writing skill for improve in it ,so
 , what is the basics skill for start learn writing in English ??
please help me ......
thank you ......

Hello preence,

A lot will depend upon the specific kind of writing you want to do, for what purpose you are writing and who the recipient is.  Different kinds of writing require different different language and different ways of organising the text, so take a look at as many different texts as you can.  In general, to improve your writing it's important to read and write as much as you can, so keep an eye out for good examples of letters, articles and so on.  Using the internet to read magazines and newspapers, and other text-types from online media, is a good idea.

If possible, you should get feedback from a teacher or knowledgeable friend on your writing. Unfortunately, we don't have the resources to give users individualised feedback on their writing, but you can still use LearnEnglish to do some work on your own.  You can respond to other users in the comment sections to carry on a written conversation, just as I am responding to you now. Good writers learn from reading other writers' texts, so you could learn a lot about writing from reading the content on the site. The Magazine might be a good place to start if this interests you. You can also of course carry on written conversations there in the comments.

Whatever you do, try to spend at least 15 minutes several days per week reading and/or writing. When you have doubts, ask a friend or teacher, or you're also welcome to ask us periodically here.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, thanks for the wonderful help!
can I get my texts corrected confidentially?

Hello kunjumon,

You are welcome - we are happy to help as much as we can.  However, we have many users on LearnEnglish and many comments to reply to every day, as well as all the other work we do, such as preparing new material, looking after the site and so on.  This means that we have no time left to correct users' English - for that, you will need to find a teacher where you live.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hy peter,
I want to speak English in an accurate and fluent manner ,what should i do ?
Waheeba Jamil

Hello Waheeba Jamil,

Improving your speaking is something that you must work hard at over time, and preferably with a teacher who can help you with personalised feedback. The most important thing you can do is speak as much as you can; even if you can't find a teacher or native speaker to practice with, you can learn a lot by speaking with friends or family who know some English.

You can also use some sections of LearnEnglish to improve your fluency and pronunciation on your own. Many members use the Elementary Podcasts or other sections under Listen & Watch as models: first, listen to the audio or watch the video. Try to understand it without the transcript. Listen this way several times. Later, read the transcript as you listen. Work out the parts that you don't understand well. Then, imitate what you hear, including the intonation, as well as the speed. Little by little, you should find that your pronunciation improves, as well as your fluency and range of vocabulary.

Good luck!

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team