Effective language use in academic study material for L2 speakers of English at a distance learning institution

Vergie, Malvin Patrick (2010-03)

Thesis (MPhil (General Linguistics))--University of STellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The gap which exists between the academic culture represented by lecturers and the nonacademic- culture represented by students at a residential university is even greater at a distance learning institution (DLI). At a DLI, lecturers and students are faced with a number of challenges. Firstly, the majority of distance learning students are older than the average residential student and have added responsibilities related to their families and jobs. Secondly, they come from a wider variety of cultural, educational and socio-economic backgrounds than residential first-years. Finally, the majority of these students have a relatively low proficiency in their second language (L2) English, which is usually their third or fourth language rather than their second language, and which is the language of instruction at South African DLIs. At a DLI, there is little or no face-to-face contact between lecturers and students, and teaching takes place primarily by means of printed study material, specifically study guides. Study guides substitute for the lectures and other contact periods that residential students receive. In addition, study guides have to facilitate the student in the world of a new and sometimes intimidating culture, namely the (tertiary) academic culture. However, many students may have trouble understanding the type of language used in study material (essentially, academic language), sometimes because lecturers do not understand the challenges faced by DLI students and/or because they write in a formal, academic style, which is often not easily accessible to first-year students. This could pose a barrier for learning, as well as for the transition of the student from the non-academic culture to the academic culture. The aim of the study reported in this thesis was to identify the linguistic criteria which a successful study guide for L2 speakers of English should adhere to. These criteria were extracted from literature on effective writing/teaching in general, then discussed in terms of their relevance for the specific purpose of writing effective study guides, and finally applied to critically evaluate the language used in three DLI study guides. The thesis ends with some concluding remarks, a discussion of the implications of the findings of the research, and some recommendations for further research.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die gaping tussen die akademiese kultuur wat verteenwoordig word deur dosente en die nieakademiese kultuur wat verteenwoordig word deur studente by 'n residensiële universiteit is selfs groter by 'n afstandsonderriginstelling (AOI). By 'n AOI kom studente en dosente voor 'n aantal uitdagings te staan. Eerstens is die oorgrote meerderheid afstandsonderrigstudente ouer as die gemiddelde student aan 'n residensiële universiteit en het hulle bykomende verantwoordelikhede met betrekking tot hul gesinne en werkplekke. Tweedens kom hulle uit 'n wyer verskeidenheid van kulturele, opvoedkundige en sosio-ekonomiese agtergronde as eerstejaarstudente van residensiële universiteite. Ten laaste is die meerderheid van hierdie studente se taalvaardigheid in hulle tweedetaal (T2) Engels relatief laag. In die meeste gevalle is Engels hulle derde of vierde taal eerder as hul tweede taal, terwyl dit ook die taal van onderrig is by Suid-Afrikaanse AOIs. By 'n AOI is daar geen of min persoonlike kontak tussen dosente en studente, en onderrig vind meestal plaas deur middel van gedrukte studiemateriaal, veral studiegidse. Studiegidse dien as plaasvervanger vir die voorlesings en ander kontaksessies wat 'n student by 'n residensiële universiteit ontvang. Ook moet studiegidse die student voorthelp in die wêreld van die nuwe en soms intimiderende kultuur, die (tersiêre) akademiese kultuur. Tog sukkel baie studente om die tipe taal (akademiese taal) wat in die studiemateriaal gebruik word te verstaan, wat soms veroorsaak word deur dosente wat nie 'n goeie begrip het van die uitdagings wat AOI-studente in die gesig moet staar nie, en/of omdat hulle in 'n formele, akademiese styl skryf wat nie maklik toeganklik vir eerstejaarstudente is nie. Dit kan 'n struikelblok vir leer wees, sowel as vir die oorgang van die student vanaf die nie-akademiese kultuur na die akademiese kultuur. Die doel van die studie waaroor daar verslag gelewer word in hierdie tesis was om die linguistiese kriteria te identifiseer waaraan 'n suksesvolle studiegids vir T2 sprekers van Engels moet voldoen. Hierdie kriteria is afgelei uit die literatuur oor effektiewe skryf/onderrig oor die algemeen, en vervolgens bespreek in terme van hulle relevansie vir die spesifieke doel van die skryf van effektiewe studiegidse. Laastens is hierdie kriteria gebruik om die taalgebruik in drie AOIstudiegidse krities te evalueer. Die tesis word afgesluit met enkele slotopmerkings, 'n bespreking van die implikasies van die bevindinge van die navorsing, en enkele aanbevelings vir verdere navorsing.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/4258
This item appears in the following collections: