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 (British Academic Written English) 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.



Nice Idea

You are so accurate in every thing , I do like you web site so much ,

Hello. As I'm trying to improve my English I think I have got a problem that needs experts like you Im very dull when it comes to brainstorming how may I improve my brainstorming

Hello Lamastry,

I'm afraid I can't help you with this. We can help with language issues and ways of learning English, but improving your brainstorming is outside of our expertise. I should think you can find plenty of specialist sites with advice on this sort of thing, however.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Now and then , the more I trying to practice ,the more mistake i will make. And also the more embarrassement I'll feel. I can remember three or four jokes from the podcast. I can even recite it. And tell everyone else I have met and feel good about. For complimenting some guest. I would star to greet them as " my lady "" how are you ,sir !" Sigh. I failed.

I'm bad. I have listen to podcasts and big city small world for years. Not continuously though , but I can't still speak English fluently. And some people are nice,some people aren't so nice. I work as a waiter. I have been treated both badly and good. I know they tease my broken English so much , I hate it, hate my life so much. I give up.

Hello Chickenteriyaki,

Learning to speak another language fluently is a considerable challenge. Although there are sometimes small mistakes in your comments, they are all perfectly intelligible. I don't know what your English was like before your studies, so I can't honestly say whether you have improved, but overall your English is really quite good.

It might also be helpful to remember that most native speakers of English can't speak more than a handful of words in another language. You have already achieved a level of English that many of them never will achieve in any other language. Unfortunately, sometimes people are just rude; often this is out of ignorance, but sometimes it's just human nature. All I can say about that is to try not to be discouraged – fall down, stand back up.

Finally, I'd like to suggest you read through the advice on our Help page. Many users listen, for example, to a Big City Small World episode a couple of times, read the transcript and do the exercises, and then move on. Most people, however, need to spend more time on a page to really get the most out of it. You should select 7–10 phrases or sentences in each episode that you think would be useful and then repeat them over and over and over again (pronouncing them as carefully as you can) until it's relatively easy for you to say them. Then try to use them in our daily life. It's not always easy to do, but even if you just imagine a situation when you'd need them and then say them to yourself, it can be helpful to prepare you for the day you will actually need them.

We wish you the best in your studies and your practice!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk,
I don't know why but sometimes, I feels uncomfortable to speak in English.Either I can say due to stutter or may due to lack of confidence and I felt ashamed.Could you suggest me,what would i do and how to overcome it.
Mandeep Kaur

Hello Mandeep Kaur,

It sounds like a lack of confidence, and I'm not sure what we can suggest to help with this! You can find suggestions for improving speaking on our Help page, and practice will increase your confidence, of course, but other than that this sounds like something that you can only work on yourself, or with the help of a teacher where you live.

One thing to remember is that mistakes are less important, generally speaking, in speaking than they are in writing. Even fluent English speakers have little slips and errors in their speech, so perhaps you need to be a little less concerned with how you sound and more concerned with simply expressing yourself.

As I said, practice will help. Good luck!

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello kirk
My english so poor so plz give me a suggetion for improve my english

Best wishes,
Raghu kathuria