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English for Academic purposes(Paul Thompson Giuliana Diani)

English for Academic purposes(Paul Thompson Giuliana Diani)

Product Summery

PAUL THOMPSON
UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM, UK
AND GIULIANA DIANI
UNIVERSITÀ DI MODENA E REGGIO EMILIA, ITALY

Over the last two decades, there has been a prolific increase in scholarly activity in the field of English for Academic Purposes (EAP). In this growth, the notions of corpus and genre have played a central role,with important repercussions for teaching approaches. These notions derive from two approaches to the investigation of academic English:“genre analysis” and “corpus linguistics”

Genre analysis has predominantly focused on genre as text, with the aim of exploring the lexico-grammatical and discursive patterns of particular genres  to identify their recognizable structural identity, or what Bhatia (1999, 22) calls “generic integrity”. As Hyland observes (2012,415), “analysing this kind of patterning has yielded useful information about the ways in which texts are constructed and the rhetorical contexts in which such patterns are used, as well as provided valuable input for genre-based teaching”.

Within EAP, most genre research has used the move-analysis approach developed by Swales (1990), “which seeks to identify the recognizable stages of particular institutional genres and the constraints on typical move sequences” (Hyland 2012, 415). Substantial work  has been devoted to the study of academic research genres, such as research articles, abstracts,textbooks, book reviews, book review articles, and PhD theses (see e.g.Swales 1990, 2004; Myers 1992; Bhatia 1993; Motta-Roth 1998; Bunton 2002; Lorés Sanz 2004;  Kwan 2006; Diani 2012; Thompson 2012).
Genre analysis is thus largely an attempt to identify the common traits of academic language in different domains. Comparative studies have gradually shown how disciplinary domains differ from each other not only as regards specialised topics and specialist vocabulary  but also in terms of lexico-grammatical characteristics and rhetorical and argumentative structures (e.g. Hyland and Bondi 2006). Even items belonging to what is known as ‘general academic vocabulary’ (e.g. verbs such as note, claim or suggest) may be  seen to vary in usage and meaning according to the specific disciplinary domain or cultural context in which they are used,thus pointing to the particular ethos of the academic community under scrutiny.
Genre analysts have been greatly assisted in these descriptions by the compilation and investigation of language corpora. The ability to analyse large quantities of data has made it possible to study the particular characteristics of different discourse domains and to  investigate variation phenomena.
A significant development in these two traditions of investigating academic English is the view that genre and corpus approaches should not be considered, to borrow Charles, Pecorari and Hunston’s (2009, 3) words “as opposing ideas”, but rather “as constituting a  continuum from top-down to bottom-up”, along which researchers “situate their individual studies” (e.g. Baker 2006; Biber et al. 2007; Ädel and Reppen 2008;Charles, Pecorari and Hunston 2009; Gotti and Giannoni 2014).
The integration of genre analysis and corpus-based investigations has had a major impact on EAP pedagogy (see, for example, Weber 2001;Flowerdew 2005; Hyland 2006; Charles 2007, this volume; Cortes 2007),with important implications for teaching academic  writing. This is because genre descriptions, on the one hand, support learners by providing “an explicit understanding of how target texts are structured and why they are written in the ways they are” (Hyland 2007, 151). Corpus analyses, on the other hand, encourage  learners to understand academic language use, and to see the connections between language and its contexts of use. The increased familiarity of students with electronic tools for corpus analysis has contributed to the development of their language awareness (e.g.Bondi 1999) and promoted learner autonomy (e.g. Lynch 2001).
Contents of the volume

Many of the issues outlined above are investigated in the chapters of this volume. The contributions are arranged into four parts, which highlight how corpus linguistics and genre analysis can work as complementary approaches. Pedagogical implications are also  discussed in some detail as the research described here not only aims to investigate features of EAP but also to translate them into classroom applications. The first part presents corpus-based research into EAP at the lexicogrammatical and genre levels, with papers  whose focuses range from issues related to patterning and phraseology through to papers focusing on the language practices of specific disciplines and research genres. The second part is devoted to intercultural EAP research. The third part includes research on  English as a Lingua Franca in academic communication. Finally, the last part addresses the relationships between corpus, genre and pedagogy in EAP, with an emphasis on implications and applications.

Overview of the chapters

The first two chapters of Part I “Corpus, Genre and Disciplinary Discourses”, focus on lexico-grammatical patterning in written academic discourse. The opening article, by Christopher Gledhill, investigates how collocation and phraseology, from a lexicogrammar  perspective, are relevant to EAP. He sets out a method of textual analysis which exploits the phraseological behaviour of grammatical signs. The chapter provides evidence that grammatical items can be shown to be stable elements in relatively predictable but also  productive cascades of expression. His findings suggest that the identification of such extended lexicogrammatical patterns are a key feature in the systematic analysis of EAP texts.
The second chapter, by Geneviève Bordet, also treats the phenomenon of collocation as fundamental to the study of language, and genre analysis in particular. Her analysis provides evidence that each genre highlights specific disciplinary strategies based on the use  of textual collocational variations, or “collocational chains”. Her results show that these chains contribute to the perception of the text as both coherent and persuasive.

 The second trend of Part I is represented by four chapters centring on language variation across  disciplines in different academic genres:research articles, book review articles, abstracts, conference posters.Šarolta Godniþ Viþiþ and Mojca Jarc explore language   variation in the genre of research articles within sociology. Three functional key words,among, between and these, were selected for analysis as the most salient in all the corpora analysed. Their study demonstrates that there is intradisciplinary variation in the  sociological research articles that is not due to the stylistic flexibility with which authors use language. They suggest that the differences between the preferred meanings and values found in the corpora may be attributed to differences in the research focus and  theoretical positionings of the authors, the methodologies they use,and also the niches occupied by the journals.Michele Sala’s chapter examines the way knowledge is conceptualized and grammatically constructed in research article abstracts covering four disciplinary areas (linguistics, law, economics and medicine). The analysis focuses on linguistic items which are used to portray the construction of disciplinary knowledge, to introduce concepts and methods, and to represent evidence and its interpretation. His study  shows a consistent use of research, cognition and discourse acts in the disciplinary corpora analysed.
Stefania M. Maci investigates how conditional constructions are employed in the discourse of medical posters. Her results show that, in this genre, the uses of conditionals reflect the reasoning process of the hard sciences: they can either convey ‘facticity’ or  ‘refocusing’. Through the analysis, her study reveals that in the case of ‘facticity’, facts and results are reported according to the conditions they are associated with and are expressed in the ‘Method’ and ‘Results’ sections. As regards factual if clauses, their pragmatic  role is indicated by the information ordering structuring: prediction seems to be realised with the fronting of protasis,whereas the if and only if condition appears to be constructed by means of delaying.
In the next chapter, Giuliana Diani explores reflexive phraseology across academic genres and disciplines. Employing a corpus-based approach, the study focuses on how metatextual phraseological units vary across academic research articles and book review  articles and academic disciplines (business and economics). Her study shows that phraseological units can be very helpful signals for the analysis of generic and argumentative structure of academic writing. Her findings also demonstrate that convergences and  divergences between closely related disciplines and genres help to differentiate different forms of disciplinary discourse.
With Part II of the volume, “Contrastive EAP rhetoric”, our attention turns to an investigation of intercultural EAP research. Rosa Lorés Sanz illustrates a methodological approach for intercultural research in the use of written academic genres in English by non-native  (Spanish) academics,which involves corpus analysis, genre analysis and intercultural rhetoric as central methodological frameworks. She presents some of the findings that have resulted from its application to the exploration of non-native (Spanish) use of EAP.  Special emphasis is also made on the advantages and the limitations faced by this methodological approach. The application of a cross-cultural approach to the design of teaching materials and the implementation of EAP courses is also discussed.
Part III “English as lingua franca in academic settings” is devoted to research on English as Lingua Franca (ELF) in academic communication.Laurie Anderson investigates the pragmatics of academic ELF communication by examining the role that the thematization of self and other identities in terms pertinent to membership in an international community of scholars plays in peer-to-peer interaction among academics from different national backgrounds. Her study shows that in peer-to-peer interaction with colleagues  from different national and linguistic backgrounds, scholars exhibit a particular understanding of international academia, reflecting both the geographical/geopolitical and institutional characteristics of the setting in which the presentations were made. The chapter concludes with a discussion on the extent to which the thematization of ‘internationality’ is rooted in the specific aims of the genre analysed and the extent to which it is instead a more pervasive aspect of academic communication in ELF settings.
In the next chapter, Adriano Ferraresi and Silvia Bernardini report on an ongoing project focusing on institutional (vs. disciplinary) academic English as a Lingua Franca as it is used in university websites worldwide to present degree programme descriptions and  syllabi and to provide information on a wide range of administrative and organisational matters.They investigate the use of phraseology in native and ELF varieties represented in a 90-million word corpus of institutional academic texts in English. Their findings reveal  that ELF university homepages display (phraseological) patterns which are only partially consistent with previous studies of non-native language, and that these deviations might or might not derive from conscious strategies to target an international audience.
In the final chapter of this section, Giuseppe Palumbo investigates features of comparable sets of texts written in ELF by universities and in two national varieties of English, with a view to identifying the way the texts construct their respective profiles at the morpho- syntactic level and realize their main, shared function. His study shows that the non-native,ELF texts present similarities and differences from comparable native texts. Some differences between the ELF set and the two native sets concern the use of verbs, while  similarities regard the purely structural aspects (such as the generalised tendency to use premodification in noun phrases) and the use of patterns pointing to the adoption of similar signals of stance or engagement, such as the heavy personalization of the discourse  through the use of pronouns (“we”/“you” as opposed to “the university”/“students”). His analysis highlights a certain homogeneity between the non-native and native sets with regard to their structural make-up.
Part IV “Pedagogical implications in EAP” turns attention to EAP pedagogy. Maggie Charles discusses how corpora can be used to enrich EAP pedagogy by facilitating the study of genre and discourse features in academic writing. She illustrates this through two approaches. The first uses traditional paper-based materials derived from prior analysis of a corpus and shows how pedagogical tasks can contribute to raising student/learner awareness of the variability of genres. The second approach uses a hands-on method, in  which the students/learners are responsible for building and investigating their own corpora and shows how they can make use of their corpora to examine discourse functions in their own discipline.
Maria Freddi’s contribution focuses on EAP reading pedagogy. The chapter reports on the research informing the development of a course taught by the author at her home university, aimed at undergraduate Humanities students and entitled Reading Skills in English  for the Humanities. It explores ways in which insights from corpus approaches to academic English combined with genre theory can be brought to bear on the design of the course syllabus and argues for a pedagogically targeted mix of the various paradigms under  consideration.
In the last chapter of the volume, Paul Thompson explores the lexis of academic lectures through analyses of frequency and range of items within a corpus. He tests the coverage of the Academic Word List (Coxhead 2000) and General Service List against three other  options and concludes that Paul Nation’s 2K word list, based on BNC frequencies, provides a better indication of the most frequent items in academic lectures than does the General Service List. He then develops a specialised academic lecture
listening word list made up of 200 items. Finally, he presents some corpus exploration activities, based around the new word list, which access the British Academic Spoken English (BASE) corpus in the open Sketch Engine interface, that can be used with learners  preparing for the challenges of listening to lectures in English.The various analyses collected in this volume provide a rich overview of the methods of investigation of EAP, the tools and the approaches,bringing together, to differing degrees, two complementary strands  of linguistic investigation – corpus analysis and genre analysis. They demonstrate how the wealth of data made available through corpus compilation and searchable through query tools have enabled scholars to identify and give clear descriptions and examples of  central concepts in EAP research.

English Vocabulary