Overcoming EFL Obstacles to (Reading) Academic Texts – Class Observation

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Overcoming EFL Obstacles to (Reading) Academic Texts – Class Observation


Čupić, Iva
Klanjčić, Martina


What are the obstacles that impede understanding and decrease proficiency in reading academic texts in ESP? Correspondingly, how can they be overcome to achieve learning outcomes of EFL courses at tertiary level? Broadly speaking, academic texts are used in numerous learning processes across various stages of study. They are designed or aimed at such a purposeso as to facilitate instruction and the transfer of knowledge in academic subjects studied at the university level by providing textual input for the conceptualization and presentation of facts and hypotheses related to students’ respective fields of study. In ESP teaching they are used to introduce academic language through relevant academic content, aiming to draw upon the students’ existing vocabulary base, build new lexical-semantic connections and raise the students’ overall foreign language proficiency level. Upon direct class observation, the authors have found that students perceive such texts as unnecessarily complex and the language they employ as obsolete and overly pretentious to be considered instrumental. The underlying reasons for this potentially disallowing perspective can be linked to insufficient knowledge of advanced professional vocabulary, elaborate grammatical structures and rhetorical organization patterns, coupled with affective factors, often manifested in the acquired bias toward more “everyday” texts employed in previous language instruction, which provide only a limited representation of language. The role of the teacher is thus to stimulate and channel the students’ professed interest and curiosity for their field of study by exploiting academic texts and various language acquisition techniques in order for students to successfully tackle demanding content and acquire new vocabulary and structures. This paper will aim to determine the common features of texts used in tertiary level ESP, namely in applied health sciences and international relations, and to explore and design effective reading techniques and language exercises that might help develop a comprehensive approach to the multilayer pattern that is academic text. Keywords: academic text, tertiary level ESP, learning obstacles, reading techniques




International Burch University





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