What is academic discourse?


“Academic discourse, which is historically grounded, includes all lingual activities associated with academia, the output of research being perhaps the most important. The typicality of academic discourse is derived from the (unique) distinction-making activity which is associated with the analytical or logical mode of experience.”–Patterson & Weideman 2013.

Academic_literacy_test_your_competence“Academic discourse is more than grammar; it has functions like exposition, clarification, and conclusion, requiring us to do things with language like explain, define, compare, contrast, classify, agree, disagree, illustrate, elaborate, make claims, see implications, infer, exemplify, anticipate, and conclude. In addition, imbued as it is with cognitive as well as analytical processing, competence in handling academic language is far more than the ‘skills’ of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. If one wishes to do something about low levels of academic literacy, one first has to be able to measure that ability accurately and reliably.

Since it is a complex ability that encompasses many subcomponents, a language test that is multifaceted is preferable to a monotone test design, and is likely to be more reliable. The same would apply to language courses to develop academic literacy.” –Weideman 2014.

 Weideman, Albert.  2014.  Why is academic literacy important?  Introduction to Weideman & Van Dyk (Editors). Academic literacy: test your competence. Bloemfontein: Geronimo, pp. ii-ix.
[The free introduction explains the concepts of academic discourse and academic literacy in detail. To order this workbook with model tests and answers, go to the  ICELDA orders page.]

 Patterson, Rebecca & Weideman, Albert . 2013. The typicality of academic discourse and its relevance for constructs of academic literacyJournal for Language Teaching, 47(1): 107-123.