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Cultural and Educational Issues in English for Academic Purposes. Zuzana Talašová, Janka Bačínská, Peggy Huppert. 0. What is Culture?. Products literature folklore art music artefacts Ideas Behaviours beliefs customs values habits

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cultural and educational issues in english for academic purposes
Cultural and Educational Issues in English for Academic Purposes

Zuzana Talašová, Janka Bačínská, Peggy Huppert

0 what is culture
0. What is Culture?







Ideas Behaviours

beliefs customs

values habits

institutions dress




i discourses c ommunities and c ultures
I. Discourses, Communities and Cultures
  • Writing disciplines are distinguished by:

▪specialized subject areas

▪ diversity of topics


▪ways of seeing the world which characterizes them

knowledge produced by the academy is usually in written language
  • large spoken academic corpus is now becoming available
  • disciplinary variation raises a number of key issues
discourse and k nowledge c onstruction
Discourse and Knowledge Construction
  • learning a discipline implies learning to use language in disciplinary approved ways
  • the key concepts of a discipline are defined through and by language
  • learning a discipline thus means learning to communicate as a member of a community
the f ocus on a cademic w riting
Lilis (2001) calls it ‘essayist literacy’, reflects a gate-keeping role and the importance it has in representing academic knowledge

Bourdieau (1991) forms this as it is seen to be a guarantee of objectivity and truth

The Focus on Academic Writing
social constructivism
Social Constructivism
  • theory that knowledge is created through the discourses of social communities
  • knowledge does not result from objective descriptions of what the world is really like, but emerges in part through our perceptions
  • understanding is always filtered through beliefs
opinion of physicists
Hawkin (1993) notes a theory may describe a range of observations, but beyond that it makes no sense to ask if it corresponds to reality, because we don’t know what reality is independent of

Rotry (1979) says that knowledge is the social justification of belief

Opinion of Physicists
ii discourse communities
II. Discourse Communities
  • social constructivism tells us that the intellectual climate in which academics live and work determines the problems they investigate
  • the community-based orientation to literacy focuses on the importance of writing and speaking, and learning to write and speak as an insiderof the community
the concept of community
Swales (1990) defined these communities as having collective goals and purposes

Barton (1994) suggests they can be loose knit groups engaged in either the reception or production of texts, or both

The concept of community
Discourse community helps to join writers, texts and readers together and, irrespective of how we define the idea, it is difficult to see how we might do without it. Essentially, it draws together a number of key aspects and contexts that are crucial to the ways spoken and written discourse is produced and understood.
cutting 2002 points out
Cutting (2002) points out:

▪Situational context:what people „know about what they can see around them“

▪Background knowledge context: what people know about the world, what they know about the aspects of life and what they know about each other

▪Co-textual context: what people „know about what they have been saying“

task 2
Task 2
  • Could you identify the discourse communities you are a member of?
  • How central is your participation in each one?
iii the i nfluence of c ulture
III. The Influence of Culture
  • culture influences how students expect to write and speak in the academy, but also the ways of writing and speaking they bring with them from their home environments
language and l earning are c losely b ound up w ith c ulture
Language and Learning are Closely Bound up With Culture
  • culture is a controversial notion, with no single agreed definition, one version sees it as a historically transmitted and systematic network of meanings which allow us to understand, develop and communicate our knowledge and beliefs about the world (Lantolf, 1999)
differences in o rganizing our u nderstanding
Differences in Organizing our Understanding

▪different linguistic proficiencies and intuitions about language

▪different learning experiences and classroom expectations

▪different sense of audience and self as a text producer

▪different preferences for ways of organizing texts

▪different writing, reading and speaking processes

▪different understandings of text uses and the social value of different text types

One important element in EAP classrooms is the potential for culturally divergent attitudes to knowledge to influence students’ language production and how we understand students’ progress
  • Culture can also intrude into learning through students’ expectations about instruction and the meanings they give to classroom tasks
one potential problem area is that of peer review
One Potential Problem Area is That of Peer Review:
  • Asking students to respond to their classmates’ writing is generally seen as beneficial in L2 instruction, but while it may help to some learners to envisage their audience more effectively, peer evaluation has been criticized as inappropriate for learners from collectivist cultures.
carson and nelson 1996
Carson and Nelson (1996):
  • Chinese students often avoid criticism of peers and so provide no useful feedback (collectivism)
iv education
IV. Education
  • ideal: bilingual education
  • culture studies
  • interaction
  • collaborative teaching
  • cultural mismatches
iv education21
IV. Education
  • knowledge of linguistic, social, cultural criticism
  • curriculum
  • “one size fits all” ?
  • lingua franca or tyrannosaurus rex?
common core hypothesis
Common Core Hypothesis
  • common set of linguistic structures and vocabulary
  • problems:
      • incremental language learning?
      • finite number of elements?
      • variety of language? (connotations)
  • Barry Tomalin and Susan Stempleski: “Cultural Awareness”. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.
  • Penny Adams, Brian Heaton and Peter Howarth (eds.): “Socio-Cultural Issues in English for Academic Purposes.” London and Basingstoke: Macmillan Publishers Linited, 1993.
  • Ken Hyland: “English for Academic Purposes.“ London and New York: Routledge, 2006.
  • Andy Gillett: “Intercultural Communication.“ available via: <>
  • Mark W. La Celle-Peterson and Charlene Rivera: “Is it Real for All Kids? A Framework for Equitable Assessment Policies for English Language Learners.“ available via <>
  • John Flowerdew and Matthew Peacock: “Research Perspectives on English for Academic Purposes.“ available via <>
  • Ronald Carter and David Nunan (eds.):“The Cambridge Guide to Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages.“ available via <>