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September 2014
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Free Book Chapter From "Teaching English for Academic Purposes"
By Ilka Kostka and Susan Olmstead-Wang

In this chapter, we describe how academic reading and writing are interconnected processes. Smart readers can become smart writers, and if students have a clear sense of their ideas, their writing is likely to be clear as well.

Nonetheless, instructors should remember that individual differences may affect how students learn to read and write academic English. For instance, students within one class may have varying linguistic skills and vocabulary knowledge. They may also have little or extensive experience with academic language either in English or their first language. In addition, students may bring varying cultural expectations and attitudes toward reading and writing, which might be influenced by their families or society. They may also have different motivations for reading and writing and use a wide range of strategies to approach the reading task based on their first language literacy skills (Birch, 2007); as Nergis (2013) has shown, students’ awareness of their own reading strategies may help them better understand the texts they read. All of these factors can play a large role in how students approach reading and writing.

Reflective Break

Think about how you learned to read and write in academic language.

  • Were those two skills taught together or separately?
  • How does your reading and writing in academic settings differ from your reading and writing in other contexts? 


Academic Reading

Reading is a complex process that is crucial for students’ success. Knowing about students’ reading experiences early on can help teachers tailor their instruction to students’ needs. For instance, an open-ended survey can provide critical insight into students’ experiences and attitudes toward reading. After completing the survey, students can interview each other and ask questions such as: How much reading (in English) do you do per week? What is the “reading culture” of your country? Of your family? A class discussion can help highlight similarities and differences in students’ experiences and in their prior academic settings.

Another important piece of information that teachers will want to gather from students concerns their reading strategies, because academic reading differs from other kinds of reading. Astute readers understand their own reading strategies so they can adjust them when they encounter any difficulties while reading. Helping students become aware of their reading strategies can provide enormous benefits and help them read academic texts successfully in their other courses.

Download the full chapter (PDF)

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TESOL Member Price: US$13.95
Nonmember Price: US$16.95

About this book

Why do students feel that mastering academic English is difficult? Is it really so different from other types of English? The authors present academic English as a particular type of English that is not necessarily better, fancier, or harder; rather, it is simply a different kind of English that is usually learned in scholastic settings after general English has been acquired. This easy-to-follow guide shows how learning academic language can be achieved by developing a set of skills that can be honed with practice, effective instruction, and motivation.



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Table of Contents
TC Homepage
Enlivening Dialogue Practice With Free App
ELL Transitions in Early Ed
The Syllabus as an ESL Oral Fluency Activity
Quick Tip: Filming for Progress in Presentations
Book Chapter: English for Academic Purposes
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