English Language Education at University: Trends and Challenges in Teaching and Learning Academic Discourse in the UK

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter discusses English Language Education at university and highlights a number of trends and their associated challenges in teaching and learning academic discourse. Academic discourse refers to the ways in which language is used by participants in academia. It encompasses written discourse, from article and book publishing, PhD theses to course assignments; spoken discourse, from study groups, tutorials, conference presentations to inaugural lectures; and more recently, computer-mediated discourse, from asynchronous text-based conferencing to academic blogs. The role of English language educators in preparing students and academics for successful participation in these academic events, or the academy, in English is not to be underestimated. Academic communication is not only vital to an individual’s success at university, but to the maintenance and creation of academic communities and to scientific progress itself (Hyland, 2009). This chapter presents an overview of academic discourse and discusses recent issues which have an impact on teaching and learning English at university and discusses their associated challenges: first, the increasing internationalisation of universities. Second, the emergence of a mobile academe in its broadest sense, in which students and academics move across traditional geopolitical, institutional and disciplinary boundaries, is discussed. Third, the growth of UK transnational higher education is examined as a trend which sees academics and students vicariously or otherwise involved in English language teaching and learning. Fourth, the chapter delves into the rapid and ongoing development in technology assisted and online learning. While responding to trends can be difficult, they can also inspire ingenuity. Furthermore, such trends and challenges will not emerge in the same manner in different contexts. The discussion in this chapter is illustrated with examples from a UK context but the implications of the trends and challenges are such that they reach beyond borders.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnglish Language Education in a Global World: Practices, Issues and Challenges
EditorsLap Tuen Wong, Aditi Dubey-Jhaveri
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)978-1-63483-497-1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


  • academic discourse, university language, higher education, teaching and learning, language teaching
  • ELT
  • english language education
  • teaching english to speakers of other languages


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