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Papers, submission, and registration


Presentation slides

Bridging the Gap Between Research and Teaching: Designing Action-Oriented Studies (Paretti, Donahue)

Workshop day 1; Workshop day 2

Suggested reading in the close: Hugo Bowles. The Modern Language Journal. Focus Issue (2012). “Analyzing Languages for Specific Purposes Discourse”. DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-4781.2012.01296.x
Email: hugobowles@tiscali.it

Graduate students’ approaches to genre-analysis tasks:
Variations within and across discipline (Kuteeva)
Full length article available online

An Analysis of Master’s Theses in the Natural Sciences with a Focus on Introductions (Milligan)

Learning to disseminate Computer Science: Who is the real expert here? (Garcia-Yeste, Kuteeva, Verhagen)

Science communication that facilitates subject understanding (Pelger, Santesson)

University students’ first encounter with Electrical Engineering: Reflections on a project-based design of a Technical Communication course (Bergman, Eriksson)

“And now we’ll draw some babies!” (Vang)

Linguistic realisations of the gap statement (Pecorari, Maricic)

Abstracts for the sessions

Printable version

Thursday sessions:

Bridging the Gap Between Research and Teaching: Designing Action-Oriented Studies I (Continues on the Friday)

Christiane Donahue, Director, Institute for Writing and Rhetoric, Dartmouth College, USA and Université de Lille III, France
Marie Paretti, Co-Director, Virginia Tech Engineering Communication Center, Virginia Tech, USA

This workshop contributes to our understanding of the relationship between teaching and research in LSP/LAP contexts by helping participants to design particular kinds of research studies that can directly inform classroom practices in an immediate and useful way. The session will begin with a discussion of the kinds of questions and issues participants hope to address to improve classroom practice, including how we can move beyond formal descriptive studies to get at the questions that directly matter for teaching and learning in participants' local contexts. After presenting a brief overview of the range of research methods used in LSP/LAP research, the facilitators will then lead participants through a discussion that links the types of results generated by various methods to the kinds of issues identified earlier, considering how formal descriptive study results can help in setting up more focused local inquiry. The session will then conclude with strategies for designing studies that effectively support the enhancement of teaching and learning in LSP/LAP classrooms. Each participant will leave the workshop with a plan for next steps and a bibliography designed to support further exploration.

We hope a workshop such as this will be a timely contribution with respect to the need to better bridge pure research, applied research, and classroom teaching in LSP/LAP. As researchers continue to explore how language is used in a variety of specific contexts, and how students learn language use, researchers and teachers alike need to become adept at both using and conducting research that clearly and directly links to the design of effective courses and teaching methods.

Adawi, T., Gustafsson, M., Saalman, E., Stehlik, T. and Thew, N. (2011). "A university wide action research project to enhance teaching and learning through constructive alignment". Paper presented at the SUHF conference, Stockholm, November 14-15.
Abbott, A. (2004). Methods of Discovery: Heuristics for Social Sciences. New York: Norton and Company.
Bazerman, C, and P. Prior. (2004). What Writing Does and How It Does It: an Introduction to Analyzing Texts and Textual Practices. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Bowles, H. (2012). Analyzing Language for Specific Purposes Discourse. The Modern Language Journal 96: 43-58.
Donahue, C. (2013, forthcoming). What is WPA Research? In A Writing Program Administrator’s Rhetoric. Ed. Rita Malenczyk. Illinois: Parlor Press.
Geisler, C. (2003). Analyzing Streams of Language: Twelve Steps to the Systematic Coding of Text, Talk, and Other Verbal Data. New York: Longman.
Gustafsson, M; Eriksson, A; Räisänen, C; Stenberg, A-C; Jacobs, C; Winberg, C; Wright, J; Wyrley-Birch, B. (2011).
Collaborating for Content and Language Integrated Learning: The Situated Character of Faculty Collaboration and Student Learning Across the Disciplines, 8(3).
Hughes, C. (2006). “Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches to Social Research.” <http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/sociology/staff/academicstaff/chughes/hughesc_index/teachingresearchprocess/quantitativequalitative/quantitativequalitative/> Accessed August 15, 2012.
Kember, D. (2000). Action learning and action research: Improving the quality of teaching and learning. London & New York: Routledge.
Norton, L.S. (2009). Action Research in Teaching and Learning. A practical guide to conducting pedagogical research in universities. London & New York: Routledge.
Riel, M. (2010). Understanding action research, Center For Collaborative Action Research. Pepperdine University. Accessed 2012-08-28 from http://cadres.pepperdine.edu/ccar/define.html.
Paretti, M.C., L.D. McNair, and J. Leydens (2013, forthcoming). Engineering communication. Cambridge Handbook for Engineering Education Research. A. Johri and B. Olds, Eds. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP.
Paretti, M. C. and K. Powell, Eds. (2009). Assessing Writing. Tallahassee, FL: Association of Institutional Research.
Paretti, M. C., and L. D. McNair, Eds. (2008). Special Issue: IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication – Communication in Engineering Curricula. 51(3).
Yancey, K. (1999). Looking Back as We Look Forward: Historicizing Writing Assessment. CCC 50: 483-503.


Graduate students’ approaches to genre-analysis tasks:
Variations within and across disciplines

Maria Kuteeva, Centre for Academic English, Department of English, Stockholm University

Genre-based approaches are widely used in academic writing courses for graduate students (e.g. Swales & Feak, 2004; Paltridge & Starfield, 2007). However, despite numerous studies of academic discourses and genres which appeared in journals such as Applied Linguistics, English for Specific Purposes, or Journal of English for Academic Purposes, there is still little research focusing on the learner in ESP genre-based instruction, and further consideration of individual learners’ responses to genre pedagogy is needed.

In this presentation, I report on a study conducted at a multi-disciplinary humanities faculty (Kuteeva, 2013). I examine graduate learners’ approaches to “examine-and-report-back” genre-analysis tasks by comparing thirty-two students from four disciplines: archaeology, history, literature, and media studies. The data were collected from participants in an advanced academic writing course and include students’ analyses of specific genre features of model texts in their disciplines (one dissertation and two research articles). These genre-analyses tasks were subjected to qualitative analysis inspired by the constant comparative method (Glaser, 1978; Strauss & Corbin, 1998). The overview of features in students’ genre-analysis tasks across the four disciplines is illustrated with excerpts from their writing.

My main conclusion is that graduate learners’ approaches to genre-analysis fall into two categories: descriptive and analytical. Students who adopted a more descriptive approach focused primarily on the formal organisational aspects of the model texts which were required by the task (e.g. analysing structure, identifying rhetorical moves, or listing reporting verbs) and did not draw any connection between the noticed genre features and the intended purpose, audience or disciplinary practices. On the other hand, the students who adopted a more analytical, “writerly-reader” approach to genre-analysis tasks took into consideration the intended purpose and audience of the target text and made comments about the reasons behind the authors’ rhetorical choices. I will show that these two approaches vary depending on individual students’ capacity to analyse academic texts in relation to their purpose, audience, and disciplinary practices. Another possible factor impacting this variation includes the extent of learners’ understanding of disciplinary knowledge-making practices. Finally, students’ own aims and learning histories affect the way they approach genre-analysis tasks.


Glaser, B. (1978). Theoretical sensitivity: Advances in the methodology of grounded theory. Mill Valley, CA: Sociology Press.
Kuteeva, M. (2013). Graduate learners’ approaches to genre-analysis tasks: Variations across and within four disciplines. English for Specific Purposes. DOI: : 10.1016/j.esp.2012.11.004
Paltridge, B. & Starfield, S. (2007). Thesis and dissertation writing in a second language: A handbook for supervisors. London: Routledge.
Strauss, A. & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. Newbury Park: Sage Publications.
Swales, J. M., & Feak, C. B. (2004). Academic writing for graduate students: Essential tasks and skills (2nd ed.). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.


An Analysis of Master’s Theses in the Natural Sciences with a Focus on Introductions

Dr Simon Milligan

In the decade since Brian Paltridge (2002) remarked on the disparity between published advice to writers of master’s and PhD theses and the actual demands laid on them, a body of research has developed which can inform the teaching of students facing the challenge of producing a master’s thesis (e.g. Samraj 2008; Basturkmen 2009; Peters 2011; Ren and Li 2011). However, research directed towards this genre appears still to be rather sparse (especially in comparison with the attention given to the research article) given that the numbers of master-level students in many institutions equal or surpass those of doctoral students and that their numbers have been increasing in recent years (OECD 2011).

This small exploratory study examined 20 MSc theses in the natural sciences from three higher education institutions in Switzerland with the aim of identifying variations within the genre and thus enabling better and more specific advice to be given to master students. The study broadly follows the approach used by Samraj (2008) in her examination of the overall organisation of biology, philosophy and linguistics master’s theses in the USA; it likewise also focuses on introductions. A range of basic organisational patterns are identified, and in some cases these can be associated with particular disciplinary groups. In particular, an examination of introductions and their fit with the CARS schema (Swales 1990; Paltridge & Starfield 2007; Samraj 2008; Peters 2011) indicates a considerable degree of diversity among these theses in the application of this widely taught generic model.

The practical application of these observations has already begun, resulting in changes to teaching practice and materials. For instance, students can now be given a suite of templates for structuring introductions rather than a single, one-size-fits-all pattern. This may have the consequence of enabling students to undertake more nuanced examinations of discipline-specific models and, thus, of facilitating a clearer approach to structuring the introductions of their own theses.
The use of a small and geographically restricted sample also raises questions about the applicability of these observations to other institutions, the relation of institutional demands to disciplinary practice within the master’s thesis, and the influence of individual supervisors’ preferences on the demands specific students face.

Basturkmen, Helen (2009) Commenting on results in published research articles and masters dissertations in Language Teaching Journal of English for Academic Purposes 8 (2009) 241-251
OECD (2011), Education at a Glance 2011: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing.
Paltridge, Brian (2002) Thesis and dissertation writing: an examination of published advice and actual practice English for Specific Purposes 21 (2002) 125-143
Paltridge, Brian and Sue Starfield (2007) Thesis and Dissertation Writing in a Second Language a handbook for supervisors Oxford: Routledge
Peters, Stephen (2011) Asserting or deflecting expertise? Exploring the rhetorical practices of master’s theses in the philosophy of education English for Specific Purposes 30 (2011) 176–185
Ren, Hongwei and Yuying Li (2011) A Comparison Study on the Rhetorical Moves of Abstracts in Published Research Articles and Master’s Foreign-language Theses English Language Teaching Vol. 4, No. 1
Samraj, Betty (2008) A discourse analysis of master’s theses across disciplines with a focus on introductions Journal of English for Academic Purposes 7 (2008) 55-67
Swales, John (1990) Genre Analysis Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Learning to disseminate Computer Science: Who is the real expert here?

Miguel Garcia-Yeste, Centre for Academic English, Department of English (Stockholm University),
Maria Kuteeva, Centre for Academic English, Department of English (Stockholm University),
Harko Verhagen, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences (Stockholm University).

Researchers who obtain external funding for their projects are increasingly under pressure to make their findings available to the general public (Wilson, 2003). In fact, dissemination is a recurring aim in most calls for applications from national and European funding agencies. In this context, being able to produce popularised texts has become a much needed skill to progress in academia and to communicate in professional contexts.

Traditionally, popularisation has been seen as unidirectional and hierarchical. Researchers and science journalists were considered to be the source of information for their lay audiences (Corbett, 2006) and expert knowledge had to be “translated” for the general public. However, other voices claim that, in some cases, the public’s expertise may be higher than expected (Myers, 2003), which might call for a different approach to the popularisation of science. Thus, there is a need for more research in this field and for the development of teaching strategies and materials aimed at improving researchers’ skills in popularisation.

Computer Science, with its wide range of specialisations, provides an interesting case for this kind of research. We have found that in some areas within this discipline, the boundaries between the experts and the general public are sometimes unclear, and lowering the level of technicality may not always be the best approach.

Our study aims to explore the rhetorical and multimodal strategies used in academic and popularised publications, particularly in relation to the construction of the author’s identity and to the establishment of a social relation with the audience. Our data include academic and outreach texts written by the same authors. Both academic and popularisation texts deal with the same topics, so as to ensure alignment in the data analysis. The samples also include new media in the form of videos. Thus, our study seeks to identify different strategies used in the context of popularised publications in cases where the boundaries between the expert and the lay audience are not so clear.

Our findings suggest that using a contrastive approach to the teaching of academic versus popular writing can contribute to the development of genre awareness and rhetorical flexibility for different audiences. Learning to write on the same subject in different genres encourages students to develop their own voices and to better position themselves and their research in different contexts. To conclude, we present some pedagogical applications.

Corbett, J.B. (2006). “Popularisations”. In: Brown, E.K. and Anderson, A. (eds.) Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics. Elsevier, Boston, USA, pp. 755-759.
Myers, G. (2003). “Discourse studies of scientific popularization: questioning the boundaries”. Discourse studies, 5(2): 265-279. London: Thousand Oaks.
Wilson, P.M. et al. (2003). “Does dissemination extend beyond publication: a survey of a cross section of public funded research in the UK”. Implementation Science, 5:61.

Science communication that facilitates subject understanding

Susanne Pelger1 and Sara Santesson2, Lund University
1Faculty of Science, 2Department of Communication and Media

One of the highest valued skills in working life is the ability to explain complex matter to non-specialists. This was confirmed by an alumni survey carried out at the Faculty of Science in Lund (1). Hence, the ability to communicate subject matter in various contexts makes an important learning outcome in science education. Students therefore need systematic communication training during their studies, not only with experts in their own field, but also with a wider audience. Accordingly, the training of popular science communication significantly contributes to the development of students’ generic skills. In addition, it may as well facilitate the students’ understanding of their subject (2).

Popular science communication means explaining subject matter to a non-specialist, a task that is similar to teaching. Just like students’ understanding is known to be favoured by their own teaching (3), it may as well benefit from popular science communication, an effect that we highlight in a new book on teaching and learning in higher education (4). The aim of this presentation is to illustrate how communication skills can be trained throughout the studies – and also bring about a deeper understanding of the subject.

There are alternative ways in which generic skills training may be designed in education. It has been shown that communication skills are most successfully developed in a specific context (5). This is an example of how the integration of generic skills and subject matter will mutually enhance the development of each other (6). Skills that are especially promoted by integrated training are the ability to accommodate diversity and alternative perspectives, the ability to create and defend ideas, and the ability to use communication as a vehicle for learning (7). This is in line with the idea that popular science communication should make an integral part of the subject studies.

In our book we have compiled a number of communication exercises that can be varied and integrated into the studies of the specific subjects. This as a support for teachers who would like to have their students exercise their communication skills within the context of their discipline. In this presentation some examples of such exercises will be shown. We also use authentic student texts and teacher response to illustrate the didactic potential of popular science communication.

1. Pelger, S. (2010). Naturvetares generella kompetenser och anställningsbarhet. Lund, Naturvetenskapliga fakulteten, Lunds universitet http://www.naturvetenskap.lu.se/upload/LUPDF/natvet/Dokument/Rapport_alumnenkat_vt10red.pdf
2. Pelger, S. (2011). Populärvetenskapligt skrivande vidgar perspektivet och ökar förståelsen. Högre Utbildning, 1(2):101–110.
3. Biggs, J.B. (2003). Teaching for quality learning at university (2nd edition). The Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press.
4. Pelger, S. & Santesson, S. (2012). Retorik för naturvetare. Skrivande som fördjupar lärandet. Lund, Studentlitteratur.
5. Blåsjö, M. (2004). Studenters skrivande i två kunskapsbyggande miljöer. Stockholm Studies in Scandinavian Philology. Stockholm, Almqvist & Wiksell International.
6. Barrie, S. (2006). Understanding what we mean by the generic attributes of graduates. Higher Education 51: 215–241.
7. Barrie, S. (2007). A conceptual framework for the teaching and learning of generic graduate attributes. Studies in Higher Education 32: 439–458.

Friday sessions:

University students’ first encounter with Electrical Engineering: Reflections on a project-based design of a Technical Communication course

Becky Bergman, Ann-Marie Eriksson
Chalmers University of Technology,
Division for Language and Communication

Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) is becoming increasingly popular as a way to provide a context for communication activities, rather than having a separate EAP course. This presentation discusses both the challenges and affordances this way of teaching presents through focusing on the progression of a first year technical communication course in an electrical engineering program from an EAP course to a CLIL course. In this course, electrical engineering experts, language and communication experts and student counselors work in close, team-based cooperation using a project model.

Since the project model describes typical overall phases and typical project documentation for the disciplinary field, it has generated a set of practical measures in our CLIL setting. There is a project plan; weekly minutes; tollgates where the status of the work is reported to customers and milestones which are interdisciplinary (integrated), sequential supervision sessions around drafts of a technical report. From our perspective, these students’ development of engineering skills is consequently scaffolded by textual practices common in the general Engineering workplace as well as scaffolding their development as technical communicators.

In particular, the talk will offer reflections on one pedagogically arranged learning activity: interdisciplinary tutorials on project reports. Through a pilot study where these sessions were video recorded and mapped, this talk then discusses how the pedagogical arrangement of this integrated tutorial provides new possibilities for the students that the EAP setting did not. Issues which were focused on were for example the textual display of technical problems including figures and calculations, relevant uses of the assignment description, textual sequencing of the presentation of the problem, and referencing.

We observed then that as the student writers explained their work, they oriented to student responders as well as to electrical engineering and communication teachers. Responders took the different disciplinary perspectives into consideration and commented issues related to content as well as to format, structure and language. Thus, we conclude that the presence of different roles became an asset for the range of what the students see as relevant for their project report. Encountering electrical engineering for first year students in this way involved a multi-faceted approach with many skills to be taken into consideration.
Key words: content and language integrated learning (CLIL), English for Academic Purposes (EAP), electrical engineering, project model

Bernelo, M., Honsberg, S., Järelöw, A., Blennow.J., & Peterson, L. (2011). May an increased focus on students' personal development contribute to increased motivation, better academic performance and teamwork in engineering programs? Proceedings of the 7th international CDIO Conference. Copenhagen.
Dannels, D. (2000). Learning to be professional: Technical Communication Discourse, Practice, and Professional Identity Construction. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 5-37.
Gustafsson, M., Eriksson.A, Räisänen, C., Stenberg, A.-C., Jacobs, C., Wright, J., et al. (2011). Collaborating for content and language integrated learning:The situated character of faculty collaboration and student learning. Across the Disciplines, 101-122.
Jacobs, C. (2005). On being an insider on the outside: new spaces for integrating academic literacies. Teaching in Higher Education, 475-487.
Jacobs, C. (2007). Towards a critical understanding of the teaching of discipline-specific academic literacies: making the tacit explicit. Journal of Education, 59-82.
LIPS. (2010). Retrieved May 2011, from http://www.liu.se/cul/resurser/lips?l=sv
Paretti, M. (2008). Teaching Communication in a Capstone Design: the Role of the Instructor in Situated Learning. Journal of Engineering Education, 491-503.
Poe, M., Lerner, N., & Craig, J. (2010). Learning to communicate in science and engineering: case studies from MIT. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
Reave. (2004). Technical Communication Instruction in English Schools: A survey of Top-Ranked U.S. and Canadian Programs. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 452-490.

“And now we’ll draw some babies!”

Pamela Vang,
Linköping University,
Department of Culture and Communication

Group work is increasingly common, especially in the language classroom. One of the underlying ideas is that by working together, students help and support each other to develop skills and competencies together through “scaffolding”.

But what are the skills and competencies that students develop in this way? How can group work be designed to provide an environment that encourages the promotion of language learning?

This paper reports the findings of a pilot study that was conducted to investigate the communication strategies used by different groups of international students working with differently formulated and designed group assignments. In one case, students of Business Studies at Master’s level were required to work together in groups to present their solutions to a specific business problem. Each group had been given different problem to solve and had written a report. The problem and solution were to be presented in poster form in class, and the lesson observed involved the students working together to produce a poster which they were then to take turns at presenting. This format was repeated three times during the course. The second case comprised groups of international undergraduate students who had been asked to look at a number of advertisements from the Shell oil company together and to discuss their meaning and impact. This activity was part of an elective English language course that the students were following. In both cases, the groups observed consisted of about five students of different nationalities. The groups were video-recorded and the discussions transcribed and analysed.

The preliminary findings indicate that students do indeed help and support each other to complete the different communicative activities in which they are involved. In the case of the undergraduate students, both peer and self-repair featured quite strongly, although this was almost exclusively on a lexical level. The participants worked hard to find the right word for what they wanted to say and made suggestions to help each other. An example is when both a German and an Italian student tried to help a French student to find the word “Arctic”. Efforts were also made to use words that the teacher gave or corrected, such as “advertise”. However, the problems addressed by the master’s students tended to be directly concerned with the organization of the task and of the material that was to be presented. As long as communication was achieved, the students recorded seemed to be unconcerned about grammatical accuracy and about the appropriacy of the vocabulary used. Task accomplishment was their only objective. This can be exemplified by the statement made by one of the students; “And now we’ll draw some babies”. What he was actually meant was that he was going to draw some human figures on the poster. Nobody challenged his choice of word and in fact, the other group members adopted this as the standard term when they later referred to the figures on the poster.

These observations raise a number of interesting questions:
Do students recall lexical items that have been introduced during group work?
Is recall better if the word is supplied by a peer or by the teacher?
How important is it for students to strive towards linguistic accuracy when they are working together?
If increased accuracy and a more extensive vocabulary are among the desired outcomes, how can group activities be designed to encourage and facilitate this?

Further investigation is necessary to inform the better planning of courses and modules that involve group work in language study.



Björkman, Beyza (2010) Spoken Lingua Franca at a Swedish Technical University: An Investigation of Form and Communicative Effectiveness. PhD Thesis,Department of English, Stockholm University
Brouwer, Catherine E. (2003) `Word Searches in NNS-NS Interaction: Opportunities for Language Learning?´ The Modern Language Journal 87 pp. 534-545
Kormos, Judit (1999) `Monitoring and Self-Repair in L2´ Language and Learning 49 (2): 303-342
Markee, Numa (2000) Conversation Analysis LEA, Publishers London
Morris, Frank A. (2002) `Negotiation Moves and Recasts in Relation to Error Types and
Learner Repair in the Foreign Language Classroom´ Foreign Language Annals, 35 (4): 395-404
Plejert, Charlotte (2004) To Fix What’s Not Broken Repair Strategies in Non-Native and Native English Conversation Doctoral dissertation, Linköping University, Department of Language and Culture
Rieger, Caroline L. `Repetitions as self-repair strategies in English and German Conversations´ Journal of Pragmatics 35 (1): 47-65
Schmidt, Richard W. (1990) `The Role of Consciousness in Second Language Learning´ Applied Linguistics 11(2): 129-158
Seedhouse, Paul (2005) The Interactional Architecture of the Language Classroom: A Conversation Analysis Perspective Blackwell London
Sidnell, Jack (2009) Conversation Analysis: An Introduction Wiley-Blackwell

Linguistic realisations of the gap statement

Diane Pecorari
Ibolya Maricic
Linnaeus University (both)

The conference abstract or proposal is a promotional genre, intended to secure the acceptance of a paper at a conference and often (especially in the 'hard' disciplines) in subsequent proceedings. It is therefore, as Hyland and Tse (2005) note, a high-stakes genre, and therefore one which early-career researchers need to master.

One promotional resource is to show the research to be novel and original; to demonstrate (in Swales' 1990 terms) that a gap exists in the research literature. Given that a significant proportion of space in abstracts is given over to material which corresponds to the introduction in the paper itself (Cutting, 2012), opportunities for highlighting the gap exist. However, not all authors take advantage of this opportunity. Just over 40% of the TESOL abstracts were found not to contain a 'gap statement' (Halleck and Connor, 2006).

This paper will report the results of an investigation into conference abstracts in a range of academic disciplines. Two corpora, one consisting of abstracts written by postgraduates during an academic writing course, and one consisting of accepted and published abstracts were analysed for two features: the presence or absence of a 'gap' statement, and the lexical and structural routines used for describing the gap. Comparisons between the corpora will be presented, and implications for the academic writing classroom will be addressed.

Cutting, D. J. (2012). Vague language in conference abstracts. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 11, 283–293.
Halleck, G. B., & Connor, U. M. (2006). Rhetorical moves in TESOL conference proposals. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 5, 70–86.
Hyland, K., & Tse, P. (2005). Hooking the reader: a corpus study of evaluative that in abstracts. English for Specific Purposes, 24, 123–139.
Swales, J. (1990). Genre analysis: English in academic and research settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

“Church Chat” for Specific Purposes, Academic Prose, or Conversation? Investigating Vocabulary in Contemporary Sermons

Hans Malmström
Lund University, Centre for Languages and Literature (English)
Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg

In the linguistic literature, parallels have been suggested between preaching and academic discourse (Aijmer, 2002; Camiciotti, 2005). However, homiletics, preaching instructors, and preachers themselves are reluctant to associate the language of preaching with the language used in academic settings (Buttrick, 1987; Craddock, 1985; Lloyd-Jones, 1972; Waznak, 1998). Concerns have also been raised that preaching is peppered with obscure theological language which may alienate congregations (Buttrick, 1987, Barth, 1991). Instead, preaching instructions advocate the use of everyday language in preaching, underlining an analogy between preaching and everyday conversation (c.f. homilia) (Waznak, 1998). This paper investigates the vocabulary used in the contemporary sermonic discourse of three Christian denominations in England. On the basis of 150 sermon manuscripts, it produces a vocabulary profile (Nation & Heatly, 1996) for sermonic discourse and discusses the academic and discourse specific vocabulary used. The paper also assesses whether sermons draw on conversational vocabulary (Thornbury & Slade, 2006). Interview data supplements the quantitative findings. The results are that: (i) preaching makes very limited use of academic vocabulary (ii) also the use of specific-purposes religious vocabulary is very limited; finally, (iii) preaching is clearly not conversation proper, but in some respects conversation-like. Preachers appear to make conscious lexical choices showing concern for their audience. The results may encourage homiletics and preaching instructions to replace pre-conceptions about language use from within the discipline with evidence based descriptions from linguistics.

Keywords: vocabulary, sermon, lexical profile, conversation, homiletics, academic vocabulary

Aijmer, K. (2002). English discourse particles. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Barth, K. (1991). Homiletics. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press
Buttrick, D. (1987). Homiletic: moves and structures. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
Camiciotti, D. L. (2005). The economics academic lecture in the 19th century. In J. P. Skaffari (Ed.). Opening windows on text and discourses of the past (pp. 95-109). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Craddock, F. (1985). Preaching. Nashville: Abingdon Press
Lloyd-Jones, M. D. (1972). Preaching and preachers. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House.
Nation, I.S.P. and Heatley, A. (1996). VocabProfile, Word, and Range: programs for processing text LALS, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
Thornbury S. & Slade, D. (2006). Conversation: from description to pedagogy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Waznak, R. (1998). An introduction to the homily. Collegeville: The Liturgical Press


The conference fee is SEK1250 (including VAT). It includes coffees, lunch, dinner and the session activities of course.

Registration (closes 130107)

Registration for Chalmers employees.

Needless to say, registration will help us plan for the lunch and the dinner more easily so please register well in advance of the event. Registration closes on January 7, 2013.



Page Manager: Linda Bradley|Last update: 3/10/2013

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