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How to Achieve Academic Writing Style Jim Hu, PhD Thompson Rivers University Workshop for the TRU Writing Center, Mar 18, 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "How to Achieve Academic Writing Style Jim Hu, PhD Thompson Rivers University Workshop for the TRU Writing Center, Mar 18, 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 How to Achieve Academic Writing Style Jim Hu, PhD Thompson Rivers University Workshop for the TRU Writing Center, Mar 18, 2013

2 Overview Rationale Explaining Academic Writing Style Don’ts and Do’s Examples Concluding Remarks

3 1. Rationale ESL students are expected to write academic assignments in academic writing style, yet many have no idea about the style and write like speaking. Need to inform them about academic writing style (i.e., know-that) and have them practice the skill in drafting and editing (i.e., know-how) with guidance and feedback (see Hu et al, 2012).

4 2. Explaining Academic Writing Style English academic writing style (register) Linguistic features characteristic of academic writing published by academics of English-speaking post- secondary institutions, e.g., academic journal articles.

5 2. Explaining cont. Features at levels of lexis (words, cf AWL) morph-syntax (grammatical forms within a sentence) discourse (a series of unified sentence structures in context)

6 Varieties of English Formality Fig. 1: Formality continuum (Hu, 2011; adapted from Quirk et al., 1985)

7 Very informal (familiar): between close friends, family members, etc. Slang, abbreviations, short forms (e.g., cuz, aint, gonna), ellipsis (incomplete Ss), colloquialisms, and chat and texting language (e.g., lol, omg) Incomplete Ss as norm, maybe ungrammatical (e.g., Gotta run cuz getting’ late. Gotta run, late.)

8 Informal style (e.g., in informal s) uses colloquial expressions (e.g., isn’t), easy words and Ss(e.g., I’ve got to run because it’s getting late.) More concern for grammatical accuracy but not always following grammar rules (e.g., Would you mind if I open the window?). Acceptable ≠ grammatical

9 Neutral style: language used in everyday contexts, e.g., newspapers, magazines, Internet reports may still have some informal features (e.g., The crowd begins to leave because it’s getting late.) avoid all grammatical errors

10 Formal style: often found in academic journals relies on formal vocabulary (e.g., AWL), long well-constructed phrases and Ss to achieve seriousness, thoughtfulness, and forcefulness No informal or very informal language

11 Academic writing uses a mixture of formal and neutral varieties in terms of vocabulary, sentence structures, and discourse (unified text). Within this variety, there is further variation. AW should not contain informal or very informal language features, “red flags.”

12 Very formal (rigid): usually found in legal documentation and very formal situations uses very formal vocabulary and often long, complex Ss. (“Distinguished patrons are requested to ascend to the second floor” Quirk et al, 1985, p. 27) Also “red flags” for AW

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14 3. Academic Writing Style: Don’ts and Do’s

15 No DON ’ TS (RED FLAGS) DO’S 1 Use contracted formsUse full forms 2 Use colloquial expressionsUse written expressions 3Repeat the same expression if possible Delete or use a different expression, e.g., a pron 4 Repeat the same meaning in different words unnecessarily Delete semantic repetition 5Use questions in the text body Use direct statements 6 Use omnibus wordsUse precise expressions 7 Use multi-word phrasal verbs or verb phrases Use single-word verbs 8 Use second personsUse third persons 9 Use personal-opinion expressions Delete them 10 Use choppy sentencesUse compact phrases and Ss involving coordination and/or subordination

16 4. Examples

17  Contracted forms 1a. Since the island doesn’t have a long history, it combines a variety of cultures from its colonists: Dutch, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese. 1b. Since the island does not have a long history, it combines a variety of cultures from its colonists – Dutch, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese.

18  Colloquial expressions The most prevalent problem for AWS. Many ESL students often write like the way they speak or hear others speak. Suggestions: a) Note words used in academic writing but not in informal speech/writing; b) check Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English for Advanced Learners (2009) for labels of slang, informal vs formal, spoken vs written, and register notes.

19  Colloquial expressions cont. Longman (2009): Register (style) note for OK “People usually avoid OK or okay in writing, and use more formal words such as acceptable or satisfactory: We have to make sure that the quality is acceptable” (p. 1213).

20  Colloquial expressions cont. 2a.Therefore, in Turkey, if two guys hug and kiss each other on both cheeks, please do not think they are homosexual. 2b.Therefore, in Turkey, if two men hug and kiss each other on both cheeks, they are not necessarily homosexual.

21  Colloquial expressions cont. 3a. Chinese New Year starts with a new moon on the first day of the new year and ends on a full moon 15 days later. In this essay I am going to show you how we prepare and celebrate the Chinese New Year. 3b. Chinese New Year starts with a new moon on the first day of the new year and ends on a full moon 15 days later. This essay describes how we prepare and celebrate the festival.

22  Literal repetition 4a.The translations do not meet the needs of our colleges and universities. The translations are too general and not specific enough. 4b.The translations do not meet the needs of our colleges and universities as they are too general.

23  Semantic repetition 5a. Since there is a sign language, we are able to understand what the deaf and mute people want to say. If the sign language does not exist, the deaf and mute people can not interact with normal people. 5b. Since there is a sign language, we are able to understand what the deaf and mute people want to say.

24  Questions 6a. Stress becomes dangerous. How to release it? It could be many ways, such as taking some outdoor exercise, communicating with friends, and traveling. 6b. Stress that becomes dangerous could be released in many ways, such as taking outdoor exercise, communicating with friends, and traveling.

25  Questions cont. 7a. Why did they [the athletes] cry? Did they feel sad because they were the best of the world? NO! Their tears showed us they were extremely happy. 7b. They cried because they were extremely happy to be the best athletes of the world.

26  Omnibus words 8a. In this essay, I compare and contrast the ways of doing funerals in India and Canada. A funeral is a ceremony after a person’s death. People in India do the funeral services very traditionally according to their culture. 8b. In this essay, I compare and contrast the ways of holding funerals in India and in Canada. A funeral is a ceremony after a person’s death. People in India perform funeral services according to their culture.

27  Multi-word verbs 9a. This essay talks about presents in different countries and the difficulty of puzzling out different gift-giving customs. 9b. This essay discusses presents in different countries and the difficulty of understanding different gift-giving customs

28  Second persons 10a. Generally, even though getting a part-time job has some disadvantages, I still agree that international students should try to find one. If your parents want to give you an allowance every month, that’s great, but another way to make money is getting a part-time job. Even if you do not need money, a part-time job is still a good way to accumulate work experience. 10b. Generally, even though a part-time job has some disadvantages, I still agree that international students should try to find one. If their parents want to give them an allowance every month, that is helpful, but another way to make money is a part-time job. Even if international students do not need money, a part-time job is still a good way to accumulate work experience.

29  Personal-opinion expressions 11a. Finally, I think I have learned many things in this country. I love surprises because they are my first experiences and can bring me thoughts and feelings. 11b. Finally, I have learned many things in this country. I love surprises because they are my first experiences and can bring me thoughts and feelings.

30  Choppy sentences 12a. However, the Canadian society does not consider the problem [discrimination in the workplace] important. Even when reports are filed, the police do not treat them seriously. The police feel it hard to communicate with victims. The police have to work with a translator. 12b. However, the Canadian society does not consider this problem important. Even when reports are filed, the police do not treat them seriously as they feel it difficult to communicate with victims through a translator.

31 Concluding Remarks Guidelines not exhaustive. Students: Advanced ESL and NES Context determines use. No context, no text.

32 References Hu, J. (2011). Teaching ESL students to achieve academic writing style. Peer-reviewed BC TEAL conference proceedings. Retrieved May 12, 2012 from https://www.bcteal.org/wp- content/uploads/2011/12/Compiled-Conference-Proceedings.pdfhttps://www.bcteal.org/wp- content/uploads/2011/12/Compiled-Conference-Proceedings.pdf Hu, J., Hoare, A., & Yu, V. (2012). Language errors in ESL writing: Perspectives of students. Roundtable discussion paper presented at TESL Canada 2012 Conference, Kamloops, BC. Retrieved March 10, 2013 from Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English for Advanced Learners (New Edition, 2009). Harlow, England: Pearson Education. Quirk, R., Greenbaum, S., Leech, G., and Svartvik, J. (1985). A comprehensive grammar of the English language. London: Longman.

33 Thank you! Jim Hu


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