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Cambridge Annual Lecture on Second Language Learning and Teaching 2019 Specificity, Academic Writing and EAP

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In this paper I argue that the idea of disciplinary specific language should help inform all English for Academic Purposes teaching at university. Drawing on studies of lexis, genre, tutor expectations and course assignments, I show how successful writing in English depends on having some control over the discourse of your discipline and that this can provide the basis of undergraduate teaching. This approach recognizes that because the conventions of academic communication differ considerably across disciplines, identifying the particular language features, discourse practices, and communicative skills of target groups becomes central to teaching English in universities. Teachers therefore had to become researchers of the genres they teach and to devise courses around ‘specificity’. To illustrate the idea with real examples, I will discuss briefly the curriculum devised at Hong Kong University to support students following the curriculum reform of 2012 which added an extra year to students’ university lives. The paper therefore draws on my research over the last decade to highlight the disciplinary-specific nature of writing and argues for a specific view of teaching EAP .

Ken Hyland is Professor of Applied Linguistics in education at the University of East Anglia. He was previously a professor at UCL /IOE and the university of Hong Kong and has taught in Africa, Asia and Europe. He is best known for his research into writing and academic discourse, having published 240 articles and 28 books on these topics with 45,000 citations on Google Scholar. A collection of his work was published as The Essential Hyland (Bloomsbury, 2018). He is the Editor of the Bloomsbury Discourse Series and Routledge Innovations and Challenges in Applied Linguistics, was founding co-editor of the Journal of English for Academic Purposes and co-editor of Applied Linguistics. Ken is Visiting Professor at Jilin University, China.

This talk is part of the Second Language Education Group series.

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