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How specific should we be?. Louis Rogers. /. Specificity Vs. Transferability. Current practice General academic v ocabulary Beyond individual words Practicalities The broader picture. Current practices. Current practices.

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specificity vs transferability
Specificity Vs. Transferability
  • Current practice
  • General academic vocabulary
  • Beyond individual words
  • Practicalities
  • The broader picture
current practices
Current practices
  • How similar are different genres and disciplines?
  • Academic writing - 15,559 Results
  • How do these style guides present academic writing?
  • Bennett’s survey
current practices1
Current practices
  • Barrass, R. Scientists must write: A guide to better writing for scientists, engineers and students.
  • Brown, R, B. Doing your dissertation in business and management: The reality of researching and writing.
  • Fabb, N and Durant, A. How to write essays and dissertations: A guide for English literature students.
  • Kneale, P. Study skills for geography students: A practical guide.
  • Northedge et al. The sciences good study guide.
  • Strong, S.I How to write law essays and exams.
current practices2
Current practices
  • General principles
  • Text structure
  • Grammatical issues
  • Lexical features
  • Other features
current practice
Current practice
  • Large degree of consistency
  • Evidence, caution and restraint, incorporation of sources
  • Formal, technical, objective
  • Structure – IMRD / IDC
  • Impersonal
general academic vocabulary
General Academic Vocabulary
  • The Academic Word List (Coxhead)
  • 4 discipline areas
  • 3.5 million word corpus
  • 570 word families
  • West’s 1953 General Service List
general academic vocabulary1
General Academic Vocabulary
  • 75% = 2000 most frequent words
  • 10-15% = academic vocabulary
  • 10-15% = specialist vocabulary
general academic vocabulary2
General Academic Vocabulary

Job Examine

Quantitative Qualitative

Omission Persuasion

Classification Determine

general academic vocabulary3
General Academic Vocabulary
  • Multi-meaning words
  • Volume Attribute
  • Is one core list possible?
  • Moving beyond individual words
  • General Service List + AWL
    • Address, control, means
    • Address-issue, control-group, by-means
  • Hyland 2008
    • Electronic Engineering
    • Biology
    • Business Studies
    • Applied linguistics
  • 4 word bundles
  • 50 most frequent
    • On the other hand, as well as the, in the case of, at the same time, the results of the
  • Half on one list only
  • Function of collocations
    • Research-orientated = location, procedure, quantification, description, topic

At the same time, the purpose of, a wide range of, the size of the, the currency board system

    • Text-orientated = transition, results, structure, framing

In addition to the, it was found that, in the next section, with the exception of

  • Participant-orientated = stance, engagement

It is possible that, as can be seen

  • Sciences = research-orientated
  • Social sciences = text-orientated
  • 90% Vs. 80% and 9% Vs. 17%
  • Chunks not transferable
  • Functions are transferable
  • Relative weight of assessment type
  • Hyland and Tse (2007)
    • marketing strategy
    • learning strategy
    • coping strategy
  • Durrant (2009)
    • Life Sciences, Science and Engineering, Social-Psychological, Social-administrative, Arts and Humanities
    • 1000 two-word collocations across all 5 areas
  • Three quarters grammatical
  • Reporting pattern ‘verb + that’
    • Argue, assumer, conclude, confirm, demonstrate, emphasize, hypothesize, imply, indicate, note, predict, reveal, show, speculate, suggest, suppose
  • Frequency and pattern combined
  • Transferability of use not investigated
    • Based on, associate with, note that, defined as, relationship between, effects on, indicate that
in favour of specificity
In favour of specificity
  • Strong evidence for disciplinary differences
  • Broad or subtle?
    • Nation - theory is theory no matter what the discipline
  • Are grammatical collocations and functions more transferable?
  • Implications for institutions and teachers
  • Time for research
  • Contact with academics
  • Time for materials development
  • Financial constraints
  • Broad ESAP
  • Combined degrees
    • Accountancy with; Management, Divinity, Law, IT, Economics, Spanish, Biology, Broadcast media, Geology, Psychology, HR, Finance, Leadership Mandarin, Logistics, and Maths
  • EAP teacher knowledge
  • Variability of specialist areas
    • Management and Business

Consistent areas - Finance, Accounting, Statistics and Organisational Behaviour

Differences – Economics, Marketing, Computing, Enterprise, Law, Foreign Languages

  • Challenge in defining genres
the bigger picture
The bigger picture
  • ‘An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less.’ Nicholas Murray Butler
  • Bachelors, Masters, PhD
  • The interdisciplinary nature of the Colleges as a major stimulus to teaching and learning
the bigger picture1
The bigger picture
  • Highly flexible programme
  • Extensive choice of subjects
  • Acquire transferable skills
  • Highly flexible undergraduate learning environment
  • Cater for a variety of different student interests and career aspirations
  • Develops analytical, quantitative, computing, presentation and other transferable skills
the bigger picture2
The bigger picture
  • Progression through years
  • Sandwich degrees
  • Placements
  • Knowledge economy
  • Skills to deal with a wide range of texts
    • Purpose, audience, aims
  • Ability to identify patterns
  • Critically analyse these features
  • Mixed backgrounds, experiences, disciplines allows for better analysis
  • Is there a core academic vocabulary?
  • Are the differences significant enough?
  • How specific can we be?
  • How specific should we be?
  • Anthony, L. (2011). Products, processes and practitioners: A critical look at the importance of specificity in ESP. Taiwan International ESP Journal. Vol 3:2 1-8
  • Bennett, K. (2009). English academic style manuals: A survey. English for specific purposes. 8 p43-54.
  • Biber, D, Conrad, S and Leech, G. (2002). Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English. Longman: Harlow.
  • Coxhead, A. (2000). A new academic word list. TESOL Quarterly, 34: 213-238.
  • Coxhead, A. (2011). The Academic Word List 10 Years On: Research and Teaching Implications. TESOL Quarterly, 45: 355-361
  • Dovey, T. (2006). What purposes specifically? Re-thinking purposes and specificity in the context of the ‘new vocationalism’, English for Specific Purposes, 25(4), 387-402.
  • Durrant, P. (2009). Investigating the viability of a collocation list for students of English for academic purposes. English for specific purposes. 28 p157-169.
  • Eldridge, J. (2008). “No, There Isn’t an ‘Academic Vocabulary’ but…” TESOL Quarterly, 42: 109 – 113
  • Hyland, K., & Tse, P. (2007). Is there an “Academic Vocabulary”?. TESOL Quarterly, 41: 235 – 253.
  • Hyland, K. (2008). As can be seen: Lexical bundles and disciplinary variation. English for specific purposes. 27 p4-21.
  • James, M.A. (2009). “Far” transfer of learning outcomes from an ESL writing course: Can the gap be bridged? English for Specific Purposes. 18 69-84
  • Jordan, R, R. (1998). English for Academic Purposes: A guide and resource book for teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Ramoroka, B, T. (2012). Teaching Academic Writing for the Disciplines: How far can we be specific in an EAP writing course? English Linguistics Research. 1:2 available at: