Critical Glossary of ESP/EAP Terms

See also:Grammar: Glossary

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Abstract

The abstract is the first section of a report. It usually comes after the title and before the introduction. In some subject areas, this section may be titled "summary" or "executive summary". The abstract provides an overview of the study based on information from the other sections of the report. The reader can read the abstract to obtain enough information about the study to decide if they want to read the complete report. Because it contains elements from the whole report, it is usually written last.

Academic Keyword List

The Academic Keyword List (AKL) was developed by Magali Paquot at the Centre for English Corpus Linguistics, Université Catholique de Louvain. It comprises a set of 930 potential academic words. Unlike the AWL, it includes the 2000 most frequent words of English.

Academic Literacies

The field of Academic Literacies has emerged over the last twenty years from empirical and theoretical enquiry into social practices associated with and constituting writing and reading in academic and professional contexts. From the academic literacies perspective, writing and reading are shaped conceptually and pedagogically by contexts and relationships rather than as only a set of linguistic forms to be learned. Many of the questions in the field centre on the relationships between ascribed writer identities, and assessments of ability, and institutional priorities, agendas and values. The notion of a singular and stable academic literacy is therefore challenged by this term, which has come to be identified with a critical, transformative approach to text production and practices and the ideologies that inform them. The methodological stance of researchers in the field tends to be ethnographic. As Teresa Lillis and Mary Scott commented recently 'This involves a commitment to staying rooted in people's lived experiences and an attempt to explore what may be at stake for them in specific contexts' (2007, p. 13). Thank you to Mary Scott for this.

I do not see this as being in any way incompatible with EAP.

Academic Word List

The Academic Word List (AWL) was developed by Averil Coxhead at the School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The list consists of 570 word families which were selected because they appear frequently in a wide range of academic texts. The list does not include words that are in the GSL. It includes the next 10%. Use the Compleat Lexical Tutor or Sandra Haywood's AWL Highlighter to identify them.

Accent

A person's accent is the particular features of their pronunciation that identifies where they are from regionally and socially. Academic English can be spoken with any accent.

Action Research

Action Research is, basically, research into your practice. The idea is that you are doing something and you want to do it better. So you carry out research to enable you to do this. Many ESP/EAP teachers are involved in Action Research.

Active Voice

An active clause has the basic form: "John ate the fish." Compare this with the passive voice: "The fish was eaten." Some verbs do not occur regularly in the active form in academic texts.

Adjacency Pair

An adjacency pair is a two utterance sequence that commonly occurs. For example, statement - agreement, question - answer, greeting - greeting, offer - acceptance.

Adjunct Language Instruction

See Content Based Instruction - CBI.

Affix

An affix is a morpheme added to the beginning or end of a word to create another word. Affixes in English can be prefixes (before the original word) or suffixes (after the original word). In other languages there are infixes which occur within the word ("drink" - "drank", "swim" - "swam"?) and circumfixes, which are around the word.

Agent

An agent is the performer of an action. In a simple clause, the agent may be the grammatical subject, but this is not necessarily the case. In a passive clause, the agent is often signalled by "by ...". However, in academic texts, the short passive - without the agent - is much more common than the long passive - with the agent.

Aims

The aims of a course are the overall statements of what the course should teach. Aims are aspirational - yet achievable - goals for students to work towards. Unlike learning outcomes, they are not usually measurable. "Practise" is not an aim, it is a means of achieving an aim.

"By aims I mean the purposes to which learning will be put after the end of the course" (Widdowson, 1983).

"Aims should reflect what we hope the students will be able to do, not what we are going to do" (Harmer, 2007, p. 371)

It is valuable for EAP teachers to look at the aims of the courses that their students are - or will be - studying.

(See Objectives & Outcomes)

Allograph

An allograph is a written variation of a graph or letter in a written language. A change in allograph would not change the word. "CAT", "cat" and "cɑt" are all the same word.

Allophone

An allophone is a phonetic variation of a phoneme. It is determined by position in the word. A change in allophone would not change the word.

Ambiguity

An ambiguous word, group or clause has more than one possible meaning. For example "bank" can refer to the sides of a river or a place where you keep your money.

Anaphora

Anaphoric reference is when a general word refers back in the text to a more specific word. For example, in the sentence "John told me where he was going", "he" refers anaphorically to "John". In order to understand a sentence such as "He did that there", you need to understand what "he" "that" and "there" refer back to. Anaphora is an important part of cohesion, and most EAP courses pay attention to it.

Anaphoric Noun

Anaphoric nouns (Francis, 1986) are nouns such as "view" in the following quotation:

"This led many later Greek thinkers to regard musical theory as a branch of mathematics. This view, however, was not universally accepted, the most influential of those who rejected it being Aristoxenus of Tarentum (fourth century BC)."

or "process" in the following extract:

"Genetics deals with how genes are passed on from parents to their offspring. A great deal is known about the mechanisms governing this process."

They play an important role in the organisation of arguments in texts and are very useful in showing the connection between sentences and therefore in making sure that the paragraph flows. Other nouns typically used in this way are: "account, advice, answer, argument, assertion, assumption, claim, comment, conclusion, criticism, description, difficultly, discussion, distinction, emphasis, estimate, example, explanation, fall, finding, idea, improvement, increase, observation, proof, proposal, reference, rejection, report, rise, situation, suggestion, view, warning".

Antonym

An antonym is opposite in meaning: "big" and "small."

APA System

The most common version of the Harvard referencing system, defined by the American Psychological Association - APA. The other well-known systems are the MLA system, the Chicago system and the Vancouver system.

Apposition, in apposition

Apposition is a grammatical construction in which a sequence of units - usually nominal groups - are placed next to each other, with one element modifying the other. The units are said to be in apposition. In the following sentence "the Director of the Berlitz Scool at Bordeaux" has the same reference and is in appostion to "Dr. Maurice Aumont".

"Dr. Maurice Aumont, the Director of the Berlitz School at Bordeaux, looked after him in an efficient and kindly way."

Appositive postmodification is common in academic texts, accounting for over 15% of all postmodifiers (Biber, Johansson, Leech, Conrad & Finegan (1999, p.639) . They are usually used to modify a proper noun or a technical name and are commonly given in parentheses.

"In arid country the weaver birds (small passerines related to sparrows) tend to be seasonally and sexually dimorphic."

Assessment

Assessment is the process of forming judgements about the quality and extent of a student's achievement or performance in a certain area. Most assessment is done by examinations or coursework.

Assignment

An assignment is a piece of work that a student has been told (assigned) to do. The mark received usually contributes to the total mark for the course and it is usually done in the student's time. It often contrasts with exams, which are not done in the student's time.

Authentic

In simple terms, authentic materials are materials that were not intended originally for language teaching purposes. It is important to distinguish between an authentic text and authentic purpose. Using an authentic academic text does not make it EAP.

AWL

Academic Word List. The Academic Word List (AWL) was developed by Averil Coxhead at the School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The list consists of 570 word families which were selected because they appear frequently in a wide range of academic texts. The list does not include words that are in the GSL. It includes the next 10%. Use the Compleat Lexical Tutor or Sandra Haywood's AWL Highlighter to identify them.