METM17 presentation

DIY (do it yourself): helping L2 writers to acquire academic phraseology

Diana Balasanyan, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
Novice researchers, especially non-native speakers, often face the challenge of producing academic texts that will not only be publishable but will also establish their authors as members of the discourse community in their field. They may rely on translators and editors to improve their writing, but they might not always be aware of exactly what is to be improved. One subtle indicator of expertise is formulaic language used frequently by published authors. Instances of such formulaic language are sometimes characterized as lexical bundles. These are frequent, multi-word sequences characteristic of a given genre and discipline (Biber et al. 1999). The correct use of lexical bundles makes the text more prototypical, expert and native-like (Howarth 1996).

In this talk, I will describe a methodology for creating a personalized set of lexical bundles for L2 authors based on model texts specific to the genres they seek to produce and their discipline. By creating their own corpus using AntConc (Anthony 2010), L2 writers will be able to locate the lexical bundles most likely to boost their writing skills and gain a better understanding of their own needs. This method is essentially author-centred and result-oriented. It is aimed at helping novice authors to adapt to the requirements of different registers/genres rather than teaching them a one-size-fits-all list of multi-word sequences. Editors and translators may also find it useful and time-saving both for understanding the needs of their clients and for providing personalized and efficient solutions.
Anthony, L. (2010). AntConc (Version 3.4.4) [Computer Software]. Tokyo, Japan: Waseda University. Available from
Biber, D., Johansson, S., Leech, G., Conrad, S., & Finegan, E. (1999). Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English. London: Longman.
Howarth, P. (1996). Phraseology in English Academic Writing. Some Implications for Language Learning and Dictionary Making. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag.

Diana Balasanyan has taught a number of courses at Yerevan Haybusak University (Armenia), including English for specific purposes and translation. She has been the coordinator of the translators’ team of the Colección Guanche project (Candelaria, Tenerife) and worked as editor-in-chief of Unitime magazine (in Armenian). Occasionally, she writes articles for Armenian and Russian magazines. She is currently a full-time mom, a part-time business owner, and a doctoral student at the University of La Laguna, Spain. Her interests include second language acquisition, EAP (English for academic purposes), translation, interpreting, education quality assessment, marketing, PR, and business studies.