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Developing Academic Literacy

George M. Blue

Academic literacy has always been a key underlying theme in English for academic purposes and practitioners and researchers in the field have always had one eye on its development in students. In recent years it has moved into the foreground and become a central field of study in its own right and the focus of a considerable amount of programme development and research. This was reflected in the fact that a conference focusing on Developing Academic Literacy was held by BALEAP (British Association of Lecturers in English for Academic Purposes) in Southampton in the spring of 2003. This volume consists of papers selected from the themes of that conference. The papers reflect areas of interest in issues in academic literacy, criticality and evaluative language, academic literacy in the disciplines and the use of technology in developing academic literacy.

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Part 1 Issues in Academic Literacy 11

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Part 1 Issues in Academic Literacy Christopher Brumfit Literacy or Literacies? Academic Identities in a Language-Sharing World Introduction ‘Literacy’ is increasingly used as a metaphorical term, for example in rela- tion to media or culture. While ‘academic literacy’ may still be usefully interpreted in its narrow sense, it would be a mistake to separate this com- pletely from broader issues. This is because recent changes in global eco- nomics, politics and language use have placed the issue of interpreting multiple linguistic identities in the centre of our concerns. This paper explores some relationships between language, identity, education, and academic discourse. We all operate with an increasing number of options for identity, partly because of globalisation of media, partly because of the ubiqui- tous educational process, partly because of our increasing political inter- connectedness. Language is of course implicated in such choices, but the terms we use (‘speech community’, ‘non-native/native speaker’, ‘language learner’) and the concepts behind them have not always adapted to a radi- cally new world order. The purpose of this paper, then, is to consider the changes that have taken place in our attitudes to language and to our identities in recent years in relation to the concept of ‘literacy’. That concept, too, has changed in recent discussion, and I shall be considering the new constellation of mean- ings which bring together our ‘selves’, our language and our interpretation of the world, with particular reference to academic ambitions. In an age of National Literacy Strategies, Literacy Targets, and...

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