Spoken Register and Iraqi Students in an English for Academic Purposes Program

By Hayder AlHamdany, Michelle Picard, Nina Maadad and Darmawan.

Published by The International Journal of Literacies

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This article reports on the survey results of a longitudinal study over the period of a year and a half into the perceptions of and use of academic register in spoken discourse by 52 Iraqi students at an Australian university in two English for academic purposes (EAP) programs. The results of this study indicate that the participants valued the pre-enrolment course, and believed that it assisted them in the development of spoken register due to its content and explicit focus on register. The participants appeared to value the English for academic purposes component of their bridging course less in terms of satisfaction with content and instruction in general. However, the explicit focus on register in the bridging English curriculum appeared to affect satisfaction levels with this component of the instruction positively. There was also a clear correlation among variables related to satisfaction with content, satisfaction with instruction, motivation to use spoken register and perceived proficiency in relation to native and non-native speakers. The qualitative data in the survey and interviews indicate that the respondents came to a greater understanding of the varieties of register possible when speaking, and how to use those registers appropriately. They describe how the use of appropriate register is related to daily tasks as well as specific academic tasks and genres. This data supports content-based instruction around specific tasks and activities when teaching spoken register and other EAP content. It also supports the literature which suggests that adults tend to favor practical learning activities and materials. We therefore suggest that EAP courses that consist of various stages should be carefully designed to become sequentially more disciplinarily and practically focused to provide the students with the disciplinary and generic academic English skills and content they require.

Keywords: Spoken Register, English for Academic Purposes, Iraqi Students Studying in Australia

The International Journal of Literacies, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp.89-110. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 676.977KB).

Dr. Hayder AlHamdany

PhD Candidate, The School of Education, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

My educational and professional background is in languages education, specifically English and Arabic. For five years, I worked as a teacher of English as a foreign language (EFL) to adult learners at tertiary institutions and high schools, both in the Republic of Iraq and in Australia. While teaching EFL, I became proficient in the application of computers to support language learning, and have been involved in research and teaching in the field. I have taught in both the fields of educational technologies and TESOL in the School of Education at the TAFE of South Australia. I am currently Ph. D. student at the University of Adelaide.

Dr Michelle Picard

Director, Researcher Education and Development, Adelaide, SA, Australia

Dr. Nina Maadad

Bachelor of Teaching Coordinator, Languages Coordinator and Lecturer, School of Education Faculty of the Professions, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Nina Maadad is a lecturer, the BTeach Coordinator and the Languages Coordinator at the School of Education in the University of Adelaide. The topic of her thesis was “Adaptation of Arab Immigrants to Australia: Psychological, cultural, social and educational aspects”. Her research focus is on Culture, Language and education.