Academic Writing: a Handbook for
International Students takes students through the process of writing in detail and addresses a variety of writing needs.The book
is divided into four clear sections. This new edition gives more detail on web 2.0 and covers group work, the increasing issue of plagiarism, emails and the concept of the literature review.
Review from Modern English Teacher 21(1)
Writing good academic English is a great challenge to the majority of university students, be they native or non-native speakers of English, which may be a barrier to their success in the academy. With this excellent new edition of Academic Writing, academic English is no longer a nightmare to international students. Unlike many other published materials on the same topic, this book does not require students to write whole pieces of academic discourse by imitating models. Instead, it helps them acquire useful strategies by deconstructing the provided inputs before they complete a range of different tasks. Thus, the students are guided step-by-step to full competence.
The book is structured into four main parts. Each part presents examples, explanations and tasks, for either classroom use or self-study. Answers to all the tasks in the book and extra practice exercises are downloadable from the companion website.
Part 1, The Writing Process, is divided into 12 short sections which guide the students through the processes of selecting suitable sources, reading, note-making, planning, drafting, revising, and editing. Particularly helpful are sections on developing critical approaches to reading, note- making, paraphrasing, and referencing. This part is based on the belief that “to become better writers, students need to become better readers” (Spack, 1988, p. 42). Therefore, all tasks in these sections are aimed at developing the skills of understanding precisely the author’s style and purpose, which are transferable to academic writing. In addition, the section on how to avoid plagiarism (section 1.3) is a special feature of this new edition.
Part 2, Elements of Writing, includes sections on crucial areas such as argument, cause and effect, comparison, de?nitions and academic style, dealing with graphs, charts and numbers, and exemplifying. All are explained in detail and practised in speci?cally designed tasks. There is one notable section (section 2.12) which presents the strategies that students can employ to achieve the maximum bene?ts of cooperative learning for academic purposes.
Parts 3 and 4 focus respectively on accuracy and the discourse of the literature review, essays, and research reports. All are presented in a clear and easy-to-understand manner. However, these parts need to be adapted sensitively because students with good formal knowledge of English are likely to ?nd some sections and tasks tedious and boring.
I used this book with a group of 25 Vietnamese in-service teachers of English who were studying for a Graduate Diploma in TESOL, and who had very limited experience in academic writing. The result of the end-of-course survey shows the students expressed great con?dence in their academic English after using the book. They highly valued the sections on critical thinking (1.2B), effective note-taking (1.5), paraphrasing (1.6), argument and discussion (2.1), style (2.10), visual information (2.11), making group work successful (2.12), and designing and reporting surveys (4.4).
The book’s strengths lie in its practicality, explicitness, user-friendliness, and accessibility to students of varying pro?ciency levels in English. I therefore strongly recommend that the book be used as a core academic writing coursebook for both undergraduate and graduate students. Those who cannot take a formal course can use it as a self-study kit, and EFL teachers keen to enter the global discourse community can use this book as a resource to sharpen their academic skills."
Spack, R. (1988) Initiating ESL students into the academic discourse community. How far should we go? TESOL Quarterly, 22 (1), pp 30-52
Dr. Le Van Canh