1st Edition

Critical English for Academic Purposes Theory, Politics, and Practice

By Sarah Benesch Copyright 2001
    184 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Critical English for Academic Purposes: Theory, Politics, and Practice is the first book to combine the theory and practice of two fields: English for academic purposes and critical pedagogy. English for academic purposes (EAP) grounds English language teaching in the cognitive and linguistic demands of academic situations, tailoring instruction to specific rather than general purposes. Critical pedagogy acknowledges students' and teachers' subject-positions, that is, their class, race, gender, and ethnicity, and encourages them to question the status quo. Critical English for academic purposes engages students in the types of activities they are asked to carry out in academic classes while inviting them to question and, in some cases, transform those activities, as well as the conditions from which they arose. It takes into account the real challenges non-native speakers of English face in their discipline-specific classes while viewing students as active participants who can help shape academic goals and assignments.

    Critical English for Academic Purposes: Theory, Politics, and Practice:

    * relates English for academic purposes and critical pedagogy, revealing and problematizing the assumptions of both fields,
    * provides theoretical and practical responses to academic syllabi and other institutional demands to show that teachers can both meet target demands and take students' subjectivities into account in a climate of negotiation and possibility,
    * offers "rights analysis" as a critical counterpart to needs analysis,
    * discusses the politics of "coverage" in lecture classes and proposes alternatives, and
    * features teaching examples that address balancing the curriculum for gender; building community in an EAP class of students from diverse economic and social backgrounds; students' rights; and organizing students to change unfavorable conditions.

    This book is intended for undergraduate and graduate courses for preservice and in-service ESL and EAP teachers. It is also a professional book for those interested in critical approaches to teaching and EAP.

    Contents: T. Dudley-Evans, Foreword. Preface. Part I:Theory and Politics. A History of English for Academic Purposes (EAP). Political and Economic Roots of EAP. Debating EAP Issues: Pedagogy and Ideology. Critical EAP: Theoretical Influences. Part II:Practice. Topic Choice in Critical EAP: Revisiting Anorexia. Building Community With Diversity: A Linked EAP/Anthropology Course. Rights Analysis in a Paired EAP/Psychology Lecture Class. A Negotiated Assignment: Possibilities and Challenges. What Is and What Might Be: Implications for EAP, Content, and Critical Teaching.


    Sarah Benesch

    "This is a challenging and engaging book...This is a valuable introduction to EAP from a critical perspective. In presenting and questioning EAP principles and practice, it offers thought-provoking reading for continuing and intending teachers."
    Journal of English for Academic Purposes

    "In this short volume, Benesch makes a timely and useful contribution to emerging debates about future directions for English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and for ESL classes in university settings...Benesch deserves considerable credit for the way in which she has opened a valuable conversation between traditional and critical EAP."

    "The book is well produced and presented....this is a book of its time, and should be essential reading for EAP practitioners, who will find much here that is both stimulating and challenging."


    "An extremely welcome contribution to the debate about the future direction of ESP and EAP. Benesch is careful to restrict her discussion to EAP, but I believe that the ideas are relevant to the whole ESP movement. Whereas discussions of critical theory, critical discourse, and critical pedagogy have tended to be largely abstract, this book draws very fully and very effectively on ESP situations in New York that will be very familiar, at least to those working with non-native speakers of English studying in an English-language medium setting....Furthermore, the stance is not one of rejecting all current ESP practice but, rather, of suggesting that ESP can carry out its stated aims more fully and raise its status within the academy by engaging with issues of power and struggle that arise in classrooms and institutions....Benesch's contribution to ESP...represents an important and radical departure from mainstream approaches."

    Tony Dudley-Evans
    The University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, From the Foreword

    "One of the author's greatest strengths...which makes her work unique among proponents of critical pedagogy, is her ability and willingness to show how a critical pedagogical approach works in a real class...I very much appreciate the tone--respectful yet challenging and at the same time not written in impenetrable jargon....I'm very enthusiastic about this book and feel it will become quite influential in the field."
    Ilona Leki
    University of Tennessee

    "It is quite rare to find a book that moves so expertly and dialogically between theory and practice. Benesch is impressive and thorough in the weaving together of different conceptual strands (e.g., EAP, ESP, critical pedagogy) that underpin her highly original and effective pedagogy....The grounded and intimate picture of students and teachers...nicely complements the challenging theoretical issues that introduce the book....In sum, a timely contribution to emerging, interdisciplinary approaches in language education."
    Brian Morgan
    Ontario Institute for Studies in Education