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Akademiese taalvermoë en nagraadse studie – ’n gevallestudie

Tobie van Dyk
Henk Louw
Marlies Taljard
Elsa Meihuizen


Academic language proficiency has a significant impact on students’ academic performance. According to existing literature underdeveloped language competence is a common problem amongst postgraduate students (Bammett, 1989; Grabe, 1991; Ellis, 1994; Cohen, 1998; Tercanlioglu, 2004; Brown, 2008; Young et al., 2013). Reasons for this situation include the fact that postgraduate students often have to write in a language other than their mother tongue or that they lack abilities in critical reading, the handling of sources, academic argumentation, and text structuring. Students at masters and doctoral level therefore often struggle with handling prescribed material and with producing well-written academic texts, and supervisors are challenged to act proactively in order to manage potential risks. This article is a report on the use of the Test of Academic Literacy for Postgraduate Students – TALPS (ICELDA, 2020) to determine the academic literacy needs of postgraduate students for the purpose of course development. TALPS was used in combination with needs reported by supervisors in order to identify performance requirements and gaps in students’ profi ciencies. In combination with guidelines for best practice available in the existing literature this knowledge was used for the creation of a short course in academic writing for postgraduate students. This context specific intervention focused on the writing of a literature review, text structuring, cohesion and coherence, academic argumentation, scholarly identity, and text editing. Exceptionally positive feedback from both students and supervisors and significant improvement in students’ writing testify to the success of this intervention.