Thread: Knowledge updates

More idiosyncrasy than meets the eye: the complex challenges of training in writing for academic purposes

Anne Pallant, Reading, UK and Sally Burgess, La Laguna, Spain

Rationale The pathway(s) that academics, as users of English as an additional or international language (EAL; EIL), may take to acquire the competence required to write successfully for publication in English can be very different. The writer's first language, the English language training they have received, the academic culture in their country of origin, the disciplinary discourse community to which they belong and individual development as an academic author all contribute to this variability. Consequently, support for writers from/by language professionals for both novice and more practised writers has developed in various forms.

Purpose and presentation content This paper focuses on training in academic writing in terms of both practice and research. It is hoped that this will provide authors' editors and translators, who are ideally situated to develop their clients' skills and abilities, with a wider range of approaches to draw on. We will look at both the teaching of academic writing to first language users and training provided for users of EAL or EIL at undergraduate, postgraduate and postdoctoral levels. A particular focus will be the range of approaches used in European contexts though we will also look at North America, the UK and Australia as sources of inspiration for course designers in mainland Europe. Four key approaches are reviewed: a focus on the text, on the writer, on the discourse community and on the writer's first language and language culture (see Björk et al. 2003). We also outline the process by means of which teachers of English for academic purposes (EAP) are currently trained and at quality assurance for EAP courses in Europe in terms of both present provisions and future challenges.

Reference: Björk L, Bräuer G, Rienecker L, Stray Jorgenson P (2003) Introduction. In: Björk L, Brauer G, Rienecker L, Stray Jorgensen P (Eds.) Teaching academic writing in European higher education. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 1-18


Anne Pallant is the Summer Pre-sessional Programme Director at the International Study and Language Centre, University of Reading. She has wide experience of teaching English for academic purposes, and is engaged in the teaching of academic writing skills and in the development of appropriate materials, including -˜e-learning' methodology. A particular interest is the teaching of critical thinking skills in academic writing, and in teaching writing to scientists and social scientists by electronic delivery.

Sally Burgess is a lecturer in English at the University of La Laguna. Her main research interests are in cross-cultural rhetoric, the contribution of language professionals to the preparation of research publications, and the teaching of writing in the university context. She has published on all of these topics.