Academic discourse socialization
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“Academic discourse refers to the ways of thinking and using language which exist in the academy.”  Discourse is not just “language” itself; discourse is language use that represents a person’s existence in the world. Thus, what one has said and written are significant to academic community, which also shows that the institution cannot exist without academic discourse. Academic discourse does not only function as a tool to convey one’s thoughts but also influences one’s formation of social identity, values, and world knowledge. The common ways to present academic discourse are through textbooks, conference presentations, dissertations, lectures, and research articles.
Students in the institution learn to display their thoughts through different types of academic discourse, such as classroom and conference presentations, assignments, and dissertations. In this way, they acquire social practice in the different academic fields, get to the heart of academic enterprise, and finally become a member of a social group.
Discourse conventions in a particular academic field are shaped by the ways of thinking of community members and the values they believe in. Written works and speeches are widely accepted if they are composed and delivered in a suitable way in terms of discourse conventions. The recognition of publication from academic community is regarded as the accomplishment of one’s academic life and the realization of academic discourse. It is highly motivated when one’s published paper was cited or further developed by community members because it is the evidence of acceptance. In order to get a reputation of the academic community, people make some contributions through publication to receive compliments.
Popularity of academic discourse
From mid-1960s, the issues of academic discourse have caught researchers’ and scholars’ eyes and grown massively. The first reason why academic discourse has become popular is because the number of students in higher education has been dramatically increased, which also results in great diversity of students.
“This more culturally, socially and linguistically heterogeneous student population means that learners bring different identities, understandings and habits of meaning-making to a more diverse range of subjects.” Therefore, it leads to the problem that it is more difficult for teachers to know whether students acquire the required ability of the principle or not. With the popularity of the concept of academic discourse, teachers can clearly define students’ learning achievement through their performance on different types of academic discourse.
A second factor concerns the transformation of education system. Nowadays, schools do not solely rely on governments funding; instead, students’ fees are thought of as major income. Universities are more competitive because students as customers choose prestigious schools which are highly evaluated on the aspect of academic discourse, including the publication of dissertations and lectures in conferences.
The last reason, and also the most important factor affecting the development of academic discourse is the spread of English. English becomes as a lingua franca for oral and written communication. Even academic journals, as a representative type of academic discourse, are most in English. Moreover, “the global status of English has come to influence both the lives of scholars throughout the globe and the production and exchange of academic knowledge in the twenty-first century.” As a result, the learning of academic discourse is especially meaningful for second language learners.
Academic discourse socialization is a dynamic and complex process. Learners internalize the practice of the academic fields through the participation with more competent members of social groups. As novices in the academic principle, less proficient learners acquire the knowledge of academic discourse from the interaction with experts in the field. This kind of interaction is defined as a bidirectional process: both novice learners and experts can learn from each other.
Novice learners first enter into legitimate peripheral participation and then move to the center of the academic community. That is, beginners first acquire the conventions of academic discourse peripherally and imitate discourse activities from experienced learners or experts. After a period of time, learners can also complete academic oral presentations and academic essays, and in the end, the publication of dissertations and participation in international conferences just as what former experts do in the academic community.
For students in the institution, they learn to display their thoughts through different types of academic discourse, such as classroom and conference presentations, assignments, and dissertations. In this way, they acquire social practice in the different academic fields, get to the heart of academic enterprise, and finally become a member of a social group, which can be seen as a process of academic discourse socialization.
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