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Integrating Content and Language in Higher Education

From Theory to Practice- Selected papers from the 2013 ICLHE Conference

Edited By Robert Wilkinson and Mary Louise Walsh

Higher education has seen dramatic changes in the past quarter of a century, notably in the language used for instruction. Universities worldwide are increasingly switching to English enabling them to attract a wide student population. This book presents a new collection of original papers showing how universities apply content and language integrated learning to their instructional contexts. The papers highlight the challenges of theory, policy, programme and course design, integration, and teacher and student competences. The diverse international contexts addressing not just English will be of particular interest to university teachers, educational administrators, linguists and others wishing to understand the instructional landscape of higher education today.
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Discipline-specific academic literacy and academic integration


Abstract Academic under-preparedness has a detrimental effect on success in higher education. We need to take a critical stance on how to support students’ integration, so they confidently use the academic community’s currency: norms, standards, procedures and linguistic forms constituting academic discourse. We aim to contribute to a better understanding of the process of academic acculturation by reviewing the debate regarding the nature of academic literacy. We address the question whether academic literacy (linguistic ability) is more successfully acquired embedded in an academic discipline taught by disciplinary specialists or taught by language experts in a more generic way. Based on 32 interviews we conclude that generic and subject-specific academic literacy approaches are not mutually exclusive and occur in varying combinations, order and at different points in a student’s career. Support should embrace both discipline-specific and generic academic literacy to empower students in their quest for genuine acculturation and integration.

Keywords: discipline-specific academic literacy; academic integration; academic acculturation; South Africa

1.  Background

Academic under-preparedness of first-year students in higher education (HE) and its impact on throughput rates are an international concern well documented in the literature (see, among others, Kuh, Kinzie, Buckley, Bridges, & Hayek, 2007; Brinkworth, McCann, Matthews, & Nordström, 2009; Darlaston-Jones et al., 2003; Foxcroft & Stumpf, 2005; Scott, 2009; Scott, Yeld, & Hendry, 2007; Slonimsky & Shalem, 2005; Smith, 2004; Van de Poel & Gasiorek, 2012a+b; Van Dyk, 2005; Van Dyk, 2010; Van Dyk & Coetzee-Van Rooy, 2012; Van...

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