A theoretical framework for academic language development

Curro, Gina (2005) A theoretical framework for academic language development. Journal of New Business Ideas and Trends, 3 (1). pp. 9-18.

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It is well known that language is the major teaching and learning issue encountered by international students studying in Australian universities (University of Melbourne, 2004). According to Brumjit (2004), world language practices have witnessed "the emergence of English as the default language of international communication..."(p. 163). The implications for educational practice in this international, multicultural perspective are reflected in the changes in the projessional status of language and academic support staff which have occurred over the past 10 years. The role has been influenced by a move away from models of remedial English or deficit teaching which compare the differences perceived between the learning styles of international students and those used by local students (Biggs, 2003).

In the present paper the progress of two Chinese scholars who audited classes in the School of Business over 2 semesters at James Cook University are reported. In order to improve their academic writing and oral communication in economics and business, the scholars met with other international postgraduate students face-to-face each week for one semester (12 weeks); the aim for these sessions was to review, edit and revise work-in-progress following student-centred principles. In these peer tutor groups reciprocal reflection of teaching and learning, together with genre-based instruction were the main approaches to develop oral and written communication skills.

Initially the scholars expected to improve their writing and speaking overnight, but they soon came to realise that learning to communicate according to discipline-specific discourse is ongoing and involves a long term developmental process. Nonetheless, some of the short term outcomes reported were gains not only in their academic spoken and written English, but also in their confidence, empowerment and future expectations. The scholars identified the collaborative efforts to write and deliver a conference paper with a staff member in the School of Business as highly beneficial. Moreover, they described the online discourse community as useful when practising daily written communication.

Item ID: 6636
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1447-9184
Keywords: academic language
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Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2010 23:17
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2003 Language Studies > 200303 English as a Second Language @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939999 Education and Training not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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