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SEED projects 2020 – Designing for learning

English academic writing as a language barrier: A learning framework

Dr Ana María Benton Z

Dr Ana María Benton Z

Dr Ana María Benton Z (Libraries and Learning Services)

This project focused on the design of an evidence-based learning framework identifying elements that facilitate students’ transition into English academic writing, for students in undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral studies. The target audience was students who speak English as an additional language (EAL), acknowledging that some elements that facilitate EAL students transition into English academic writing are likely to be useful to diverse students, namely indigenous, neuro-diverse, and minority students.

The project may shift the perspective of our work with incoming students – undergraduates, postgraduates and doctoral – on academic literacy. English academic writing may become a language barrier, and to overcome this, some students may need to reconnect with their own voice, and get familiar with academic writing as if it were an additional language. I developed and investigated the impact of this learning framework in a series of three workshops. Each workshop will focus on different aspects of the writing process. Students’ participation in the three workshops (their writing, feedback, and semi-structured interviews about their writing journey, and learning experience in the workshops) provided the data for the qualitative study and the consolidation of the learning framework and its refinement. I drew from a critical reflection on my experience as an EAL doctoral student and the impact this has had in my teaching practice and my current approach to writing workshops and language advice with students who are keen to improve their academic writing.

Some of the students seem to need a transitional space to reconnect with their voice through writing in order to benefit from further academic support offered at university, such as the wider work done by other departments in the university. If this learning framework approach is effective and productive for the students, it may have a significant impact on their university experience and learning journey.

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Academic writing as a language barrier (3.4MB)