Lexical Bundles and the Construction of an Academic Voice: A Pedagogical Perspective

| October 1, 2010
Lexical Bundles and the Construction of an Academic Voice: A Pedagogical Perspective

Keywords: lexical bundles, academic writing, voice, discourse

Winnie Pang
British Columbia Institute of Technology

Bio Data
Winnie Pang completed her MATESOL at Trinity Western University, Langley, B.C., Canada in 2008. She has had over 20 years of experience in teaching academic English in Canada and in Hong Kong. She is presently teaching English for Academic Purposes in the International Student Entry Program (ISEP) at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.

Lexical bundles refer to a sequence of three to four words that recur frequently in corpus-based discourse, both written and verbal. The overt instruction of these often overlooked multi-word sequences can address specific difficulties that L2 writers struggle with in establishing a credible English academic voice in their writing and speaking. Pedagogical approaches to encourage students to use them as a part of their own writing repertoire include raising their awareness of how lexical bundles are used and scaffolding communicative exercises to practice their usage.

Lexical bundles of three to four words that recur frequently in speech or writing are identified empirically in corpus-based frequency patterns (Biber, 2006). Unlike other multi-word sequences or formulaic expressions that have been identified and studied by researchers, lexical bundles are not complete grammatical units and are not idiomatic in meaning. Nevertheless, because they are so common and perform definable discourse functions, it stands to reason that they are essential to the writing and the comprehension of academic prose. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the essential role of lexical bundles in academic writing and to explore strategies to enable second language (L2) students to expand their repertoire of academic rhetorical features to include these multi-word sequences. The exploration will be guided by three principle areas of research into L2 writing: namely the sociocultural context within which L2 writers are expected to perform, the assessment of L2 writing which inevitably looks at the common errors that students make and the writing processes involved in successful composition (Weissberg, 2005).


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Category: Monthly Editions, Volume 47