Sympathy for the devil? A defence of EAP

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The ability to communicate in English is now essential to academic success for many students and researchers. Not only has the language established a fairly firm grip in higher education, particularly in the lives of postgraduate students, but also in academic research, where careers are increasingly tied to an ability to publish in international journals in English. Countless students and academics around the world, therefore, must now gain fluency in the conventions of relatively ‘standardized’ versions of academic writing in English to understand their disciplines, to establish their careers or to successfully navigate their learning (e.g. Hyland 2009). English for Academic Purposes (EAP), and the teaching of academic writing in particular, has emerged to support this process (Hyland & Shaw 2016; Hyland 2017a). However, EAP, and its relationship to English language education more generally, is seen from a number of different perspectives, not all of which flatter the field. Among the more critical are that it is complicit in the relentless expansion of English which threatens indigenous academic registers (e.g. Phillipson 1992; Canagarajah 1999), that it is a remedial ‘service activity’ on the periphery of university life (Spack 1988), and that it imposes an imprisoning conformity to disciplinary values and native norms on second language writers (e.g. Benesch 2001).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-399
Number of pages17
JournalLanguage Teaching
Issue number3
Early online date7 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

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