Technical vocabulary use in English-medium disciplinary writing: A native/non-native case study


Cook School of Intercultural Studies

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Recognizing the importance of vocabulary in English-medium disciplinary writing, this article presents a descriptive, corpus-informed case study of technical vocabulary use in the writing of both native and non-native English speaker (NES and NNES) students during their early socialization into a Master's program in theology. Using data collected over one semester from 5 NNES and 7 NES volunteers in an intact, required first year course at a graduate school in central Canada, it first describes the study's background, research context, and procedures. It then addresses three research questions on 1) how well participants define technical terms in the vocabulary section of their written mid-term and final examinations, 2) the distribution of general, academic, technical and other (low frequency) vocabulary in their term papers, and 3) ways that NNES and NES students' knowledge and use of vocabulary are similar or different. Both groups scored well, overall, on their definitions, particularly for the final exam. Corpus analyses of the term papers revealed surprisingly few differences in the distribution and use of four types of vocabulary in NNES versus NES writing, yet concordance analyses examining the use of seven target technical vocabulary items in participants' papers noted generally similar use but some differences, particularly in relation to collocations. Results are discussed with examples from participants' writing, and possible implications for teachers and students are considered.


Technology--Language; English language--Writing

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Linguistics Journal





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