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ENGLISH ACADEMIC WRITING

FINANCIAL TIMES

World business newspaper

 

 


 

Study comparing British and German approaches to man­agement has revealed the deep gulf which separates managerial behaviour in many German and British companies. The gap is so fundamental, especially among middle managers, that it can pose severe prob­lems for companies (nun the two countries which either merge or collaborate. The findings are from a study railed 'Managing in Britain and Germany' carried out by a team of German and British academics from Mannheim University and Templeton College. Oxford.

The differences are shown most clearly in the contracting attitudes of many Germans and Britons to managerial expertise and authority, according to the academics. This schism results, in turn, from the very different levels of quali­fication, and sorts of career paths, which are typical in the two countries. German managers – both top and middle - consider technical skill to be the most important aspect of their jobs, according to the study. It adds that German managers consider they earn their authority with col­leagues and subordinates from this "expert knowledge' rather than from their position in the organisational hierarchy.

In sharp contrast, British middle managers see them­selves as executives first and technicians second. As a result, German middle man­agers may find that the only people within their British partner companies who are capable of helping them solve routine problems are technical specialists who do not have management rank. Such an approach is bound to raise status problems in due course. Other practical results of these differences Include a greater tendency of British middle managers to regard the design of their depart ments as their own responsi­bility, and to reorganise them more frequently than happens in Germany. Germanmiddle managers can have 'major problems in dealing with this', the academics point out, since British middle managers also change their also more often. As a result, UK organisations often undergo 'more or less constant change'. Of the thirty British mid die managers in the study, thirteen had held their cur­rent job for less than two years, compared with only three in Germany. Many of the Britons had also moved between unrelated depart­ments or functional areas, for example from marketing to human resources- In con­trast, all but one uf the Germans had stayed in the same functional area. Twenty of them had occupied their current positions for five years or more, com­pared with only five of the Britons.

The researchers almost certainly exaggerate the strengths of the German pattern; its very stability helps to create the rigid atti­tudes which slop many German companies from adjusting to external change. But the authors of the report are correct about the drawbacks of the more unstable and less technical­ly oriented British pattern. And they are right in con­cluding that the two .coun­tries do not merely have different career systems hut also, in effect, different ways of doing business. Rea




ding

 


Vocabulary tasks

 

3. Words with similar or related meanings

l) The article mentions the 'gulf (line 5) which separates managerial behaviour in German and British companies.

a) Does the word 'gulf suggest a big or small difference?

b) Find two other words in the first two paragraphs of the article similar in meaning to 'gulf.

2) The study is mainly concerned with middle managers. What words can be used to describe

managers at levels above and below middle management One example is in the text

3) The article mentions that thirteen British managers 'had held their current job for less than two years' (line 82).

a) What word could replace 'current?

b) Think of two other words with the same meaning as 'job'. One is in the article.

4) Many of the British managers had also moved between unrelated 'departments' or 'functional areas'. Two examples are given in the text (line 89). Can you think of at least four other 'functional areas' in a typical company?

 

Collocations

 

4. Find at least three adjective-noun collocations in the text which create a negative impression (e.g. severe problems).

 

5. Match these verbs and nouns as they occur together in the text

 

a) pose change

b) carry out problems

c) solve jobs

d) undergo a position

e) change a study

f) occupy problems

 


Word search


6. Find a word or phrase from the text that has a similar meaning.

1 work closely with another company ( para 1)

c……………………………………………………………………………

2 skill of being a manager (para 2)

m...................e...................

3 sequence of jobs you take during your working life {para 2)

c...................P...................

4 structure of an organisation with its different levels (para 3)

0...................h...................

5 companies that you are working closely with (para 4)

p...................c...................

6 problems which are not complex or difficult (para 4)

r...................P...................

7 position of being a manager (para 4)

m...................r...................

 

Complete the chart.

verb adjective noun

 

manage managerial manager

 

manage management management

 

1………. knowledgeable 2..............

 

organise 3…………. 4..............

 

5............ 6………. adjustment

 

7............ 8………. collaborator

 

 

Panel discussion

1 From what you have read and heard, do you agree with the points made in the text?

2 If' you have experience of" working with managers from countries such as Japan, Sweden, USA or France, how would you describe their approach to management and organisation?

3 If you were going to collaborate with a British or German company, what could the potential problems be?

4 Write a short report giving suggestions and recommendations on ways to try to avoid or reduce these problems.

ENGLISH ACADEMIC WRITING

The Nature of Writing

English is now considered to be the world language of science, technology, and education. The knowledge of English allows professionals and researches to get access to the latest information in their fields and to effectively communicate with their colleagues throughout the world.

As far as our course is called "English Academic Writing" our task is to learn the way academic papers are produced. Writing is a complex process that requires a number of various skills. As research shows, its nature may be treated differently in different cultures and educational systems.

There exists an opinion that being able to write is a special talent. However, you can develop your writing abilities by following certain strategies and practicing various patterns.

As most Ukrainians (and not necessarily academics) know, our educational system is based primarily upon the non-written forms of knowledge acquisition, control, and evaluation. The only place in Ukraine where writing is explicitly taught is secondary school. There writing is viewed as a kind of verbal art that is assumed to be mastered in its 3 aspects – orthographic, grammatical, and stylistic. Teaching composition is traditionally a prerogative of the teachers of Ukrainian literature. Much emphasis is laid upon reading and producing grammatically and stylistically correct texts which have to evoke a certain aesthetic impression. At the same time structuring of the text, parameters of written communication, the context of situation, the purpose and message of the text are usually left unaddressed.

The attitudes toward writing and its teaching differ across cultures and educational systems. For example, in the United States writing has become a compulsory subject in all colleges. Such classes focus exclusively on composing and other writing skills rather than on the study of literature or the English language. The theoretical framework for such courses has been derived from the classical rhetoric that exists, according to Aristotle, to persuade. This phenomenon is understood differently in Anglo-American and Ukrainian authors.

Recent research has demonstrated that there exist certain differences in the organization and the ways of argumentation in academic writing of different languages and cultures. Such investigations have focused on the comparison of English and other languages, usually with a practical aim: to help non-native speakers to master the conventions of Anglo-American academic writing. For example, Chinese authors prefer indirect criticism, while English writers usually do not hide their attitudes. Finns pay less attention to the general organization and structure of their texts than Anglo-Americans. Ukrainian authors tend to avoid self-advertising, "eye-catching" features in their research papers. However, the writing style of one language and culture is neither better nor worse that the writing style of another language and culture: it is simply different.

The features characteristic of academic writing and relatively prominent in Anglo-American research texts are as follows:

1) intensive use of logical connectors (words like "therefore" or "however");

2) high degree of formal text structuring (i.e., division of the text into sections and subsections with appropriate headings);

3) tendency to cite and to include into the lists of reference the most recent publications in the field;

4) frequent occurrence of the phrases which provide reference to the text itself (e.g., "This paper discusses…");

5) tendency to follow a certain pattern of textual organization (e.g., problem-solution).

As for the Ukrainian scholars trying to write academic prose in English, they are to follow such useful strategies:

1) "lift" useful expressions from authentic English papers, combine them, add some of your own and use them in your writing;

2) pay attention to the organization and language of English papers in the leading journals in your discipline;

3) learn how the key parts of the academic text are typically organized and structured;

4) rely on assistance of your colleagues (working or studying in your discipline) – native speakers of English;

5) be always eager to rewrite and revise believing that the best way of mastering or improving writing (and not only in English) is to write as much as possible.

In general, such pieces of advice can be given to a writer of academic texts:

- use correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation;

- write in an objective, neutral manner;

- accurately use the terminology of your discipline;

- ensure that your language is rich enough;

- write in an academic style, avoid colloquial language, jargon, and slang;

- arrange your ideas in a strict logical order;

- pay special attention to the introduction of your text;

- incorporate visual support (tables, diagrams, graphs) for your ideas;

- cite leading papers in your field;

- think of the general presentation (chapters, subchapters, paragraphs, etc.) of your text;

- pay special attention to the conclusion of your text.

 

Learning writing in the majority of cases is learning genres, that is developing knowledge of the rules of organization and the structure of integral texts. You must have already met this word, which originally came from French and has the meaning of "a kind of".

Genre is an event of communication, it is aimed at achieving certain communicative purposes. At the same time, genre may also be defined as a type of a written or oral text with a recognizable set of relatively stable features.

The most widely spread genres of English academic texts are as follows: summary, abstract, review, conference abstract, research paper, grant proposal.

English Academic Style and Language

 

The style of English academic writing is formal. Its main characteristics are the absence of conversational features and the use of an appropriate academic vocabulary. Developing a command of formal style is extremely important for non-native speakers wishing to master the conventions of English academic discourse.

Formal academic English will normally avoid:

1. Contractions:

 

The research won't be continued until appropriate funding is secured The research will not be continued until the appropriate funding is secured.

 

2. Interjections and hesitation fillers (i.e. um, well, you know, etc.):

 

Well, we will now consider the influence of sex hormones on stress response We will now consider the influence of sex hormones on stress response

 

3. Addressing the reader directly:

 

You can see the data in Table 3 The data can be seen in Table 3

 

4. Phrasal verbs (although not always):

 

Researchers have found out that many mental illnesses are based on molecular defects Researchers have discovered that many mental illnesses are based on molecular defects

 

5. Direct questions (although not always):

 

What can be done to improve the state of our economy? We now need to consider what can be done to improve the state of our economy.

 

6. Adverbs in initial or final positions (the middle position is preferable):

 

Then it will be shown how teachers can utilize this method It will then be shown how teachers can utilize this method
This work relies on previous research heavily This work heavily relies on previous research

 

7. Inappropriate negative forms (formal expressions of quantity):

not any no

not much little

not many few

not enough insufficient

too much excessive

a lot considerably

a lot of many

 

The investigation didn't yield any new results The investigation yielded no new results

 

The book doesn't raise many important issues The book raises few important issues

 

The government won't do much to support universities in the near future The government will do little to support universities in the near future

 

There are a lot of reasons for adopting this policy, but not many governments have chosen to do so because they do not have enough resources to implement it There are many reasons for adopting this policy, but few governments have chosen to do so because there are insufficient resources to implement it

 

8. Short (contracted) forms of the words or slang:

 

This booklet describes the requirements and content of the university graduation exams This booklet describes the requirements and content of the university graduation examinations

 

9. Figures at the beginning of the sentence:

 

97 people visited the museum last week Ninety-seven people visited the museum last week Last week 97 people visited the museum

 

Traditionally, academic writing tends to avoid personal pronouns and shows preference toward impersonal style. At the same time, there is a tendency now to use an I-perspective in English academic writing, mostly in humanities.

Using I, however, may seem somewhat unusual or awkward to Ukrainian writers. It may thus be recommended, at least for beginners, to maintain impersonal style and to avoid the first person pronoun I. This does not mean, however, that I should never be used.

An important feature of English academic written discourse is a cautious manner of writing, that is the avoidance of too definite statements or conclusions. The purpose of such strategy is to be accurate and to protect the author from being criticized for possible errors or invalid claims. Cautious writing also allows for other opinions or points of view. The main linguistic ways of doing this are as follows:

1. By using adjectives that express probability (in all examples below the statements gradually weaken in strength):

    Dinosaurs died out due to sudden climatic changes It is certain It is likely It is probable It is possible It is unlikely     that dinosaurs died out due to sudden climatic changes

 

2. By using there is construction with the word possibility:

 

 

  There is   a strong possibility a definite possibility a slight possibility   that dinosaurs died out due to sudden climatic changes  

 

3. By using adverbs that express certainty and probability:

 

Definitely, Undoubtedly, Probably, Possibly, Presumably,     dinosaurs died out due to sudden climatic changes

 

4. By using statements of shared knowledge, assumptions, and beliefs:

 

It is generally agreed It is widely accepted It is now generally recognized   that dinosaurs died out due to sudden climatic changes

 

5. By using modal verbs:

 

Continuum thermodynamics of solids, fluids, and mixtures forms a powerful tool for many unsolved problems Continuum thermodynamics of solids, fluids, and mixtures may form a powerful tool for many unsolved problems   Continuum thermodynamics of solids, fluids, and mixtures could form a powerful tool for many unsolved problems

 

There are different conventions for different genres of academic writing (books, articles, conference papers) and different academic disciplines (such as humanities, social sciences or engineering). However, some principles are the same for any piece of academic writing, whether it is a journal article on molecular biology or a conference paper on English literature. The main features of academic writing are:

Objectivity.

Although you may sometimes give your own opinions, excessive subjectivity is counter-productive. Opinions should not be confused with facts, but should follow logically front them. This means that the way you express opinions is important, e.g. “It can be concluded that …” is generally better than “In my opinion”, since the latter implies that it is only your opinion.

Formality.

This goes hand in hand with objectivity. Although academic writing is not quite as formal as it used to be, you need to avoid slang and language which is too conversational.


Date: 2015-01-02; view: 1412


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