Skip to 0 minutes and 12 secondsMy name’s Sheena Gardner. I’m a Professor of Applied Linguistics here at Coventry University. And I’m a linguist which means I’m interested in languages and I’m particularly interested in English. And I’m an applied linguist which means I’m interested in how English is taught, and I’m particularly interested in academic English and how we teach academic English to students who want to study at university in Britain.

Skip to 0 minutes and 41 secondsThe word genre is an interesting word because it comes from the French, so it doesn’t sound very English. It’s got a French ‘je’ sound in genre and it means type. So, a genre that I’m interested in are text types. They could be lectures, they could be seminars, they could be textbooks, but I’m particularly interested in genres of assessed student writing. So, the genres that students have to write as part of their assessment. Obviously, very important for students studying at universities in Britain.

Skip to 1 minute and 18 secondsSo, disciplines are different ways of seeing the world. English and history are different disciplines, business and engineering are different disciplines. Sometimes they’re called subjects and that’s very similar. Sometimes they’re related to departments, so you might have English and history in two different departments or they might be in the same department, in the department of liberal arts. So, it’s not always the same as departments but it’s ways of understanding and seeing the world.

Skip to 1 minute and 52 secondsLiterature could mean English literature, the books and novels that we read, or literatures in English, the books and novels that are written by people in English. But normally in academic terms, we don’t mean that. We mean the writing in the discipline. So, the writing that scholars write about, sociology or business or engineering. And when students are told to consult the literature, that usually means looking at their textbooks, going to the library looking for sources, looking for evidence usually to support the arguments that they’re making in their writing, and then including those in their writing, referring to them in their writing. So, a source is where you get your information from.

Skip to 2 minutes and 36 secondsSources are very important in all disciplines and sometimes students will have to find their own sources and in other disciplines they will be given sources. My son studied engineering and when I ask him what sources he used, he basically used the textbook, he used the lecture notes, he used practical materials that he was given in his course and he did very little library research. But if someone is studying English, they might spend a lot of time in the library looking for sources that will be different, different students in the class might use different sources and using those in their writing.

Skip to 3 minutes and 20 secondsSo, the sources differ across disciplines but they’re basically the places where you look for evidence to support whatever you’re doing in your work. Scholarship is sometimes placed between teaching and research. So, scholarship is academic work that may not be original, but it is academic. So, research tends to be original. This is the first person who's had this idea who’s discovered something, but scholarship is being able to take what other people know and to use it intelligently and appropriately in your work.

Skip to 4 minutes and 3 secondsIt’s interesting, if you think of a student studying history, for instance, they might have written essays. Now, I’m particularly interested in student writing, so they might have been writing essays in school and at university. In the first year they’ll write essays, in the second year they’ll write essays, and all through their student life they’ll be writing essays. So, they get better and better at writing essays.

Skip to 4 minutes and 30 secondsBut if you think of a student writing and studying engineering, they may not have studied engineering before university and almost every assignment is a different genre, it’s a different text type so they might have to do design specifications, they might have to lab reports, they might have to do an essay but most of their assignments will not be essays, they will be reports and proposals and exercises and explanations and all kinds of different text types. So, the sort of writing that students do in engineering is very diverse and they learn to be very adaptable writers, the sort of writing that students do in history is very much of the same type.

Skip to 5 minutes and 15 secondsOf course, they write about different subjects, but the type of writing is very similar, and they become very expert in one type of writing which is essays.

Spoken definitions

In this video, Professor Sheena Gardner, professor of applied linguistics at Coventry University, defines some of the key aspects of university study, including different genres of writing and the differences between disciplines.

During lectures and seminars in the UK, your lecturer will often introduce you to new terms related to your subject.

This can be difficult as these definitions are spoken, so you will have to be quick, record all of the information you hear and then review what you have written after the lecture or seminar. It is important that you are able to recognise these definitions and can record them accurately in your vocabulary log.


Your task

Watch the video again. Which words does Professor Gardner define? Write them down.

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This video is from the free online course:

English for Academic Study

Coventry University