The struggle for textual conventions in a language support programme
AbstractIn this article, the writer explores the experience of a group of South African learners with regard to a language support course that aims to facilitate their struggle to master English textual conventions in discipline specific contexts. The academic context of this study was that of a nursing science degree programme where successful access to particular linguistic practices such as the reading and writing of Anatomy and Physiology texts in English as the language of learning and teaching (LoLT) is a core requirement. However, wrestling with the nuances of language in such a specialised academic situation often needs pedagogical support especially if the language of learning is not a first language, as was the case in this study. The language teaching paradigm experienced by the learners who provided the qualitative data for this case study followed a genre approach in that it involved the teaching of conscious manipulation of language patterns salient to the language task at hand. The data consisted of reflection papers, written assignments and notes made during unstructured group interviews that were all scrutinised in terms of the textual conventions that the course had attempted to make explicit to the learners.
Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 2011, 29(1): 55–65