Presentation Details

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Eleventh International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning

Creating Discursive Spaces: The Integration of Academic Literacies within Subject Areas

Cecilia Jacobs.

The practice of academic literacy teaching at tertiary level in South Africa and internationally, has been through add-on, generic, skills-based courses traditionally taught by academic literacy practitioners. These courses remain marginal and separate from the subject areas making up the mainstream curriculum. This generic approach and the autonomous view of literacy which underpins it, is challenged by the New Literacy Studies which see literacy as a social practice. At Peninsula Technikon, a tertiary institution in South Africa, a literacy-as-social-practice approach to academic literacy was implemented through an institution-wide project that focussed on creating new platforms from which language lecturers and discipline specialists could work collaboratively. The emphasis was thus not on add-on approaches to the teaching of academic literacies but on developing a better synergy between the language taught at tertiary level and the subject areas that students are learning.

Currently language lecturers, through the generic language/academic literacy courses offered at most tertiary institutions, occupy a space that disciplinary specialists should be filling, that of inducting students into the discourses of their academic disciplines. This study explores the process that occurred between collaborating language lecturers and discipline specialists who attempted to integrate academic literacy teaching into various disciplines of study. The paper is suggesting that higher education needs to create a discursive space for the collaboration of language lecturers and discipline specialists, which will facilitate the shift of academic literacy teaching into the various disciplines making up the mainstream curriculum


Cecilia Jacobs  (South Africa)
Faculty Language Co-ordinator
Faculty of Engineering
Peninsula Technikon

Cecilia Jacobs is the language co-ordinator in the Engineering Faculty at Peninsula Technikon, South Africa. This entails working with engineering educators in the areas of curriculum development, teaching and learning. Her research interests are in Education and New Literacy Studies. Current research focuses on integrating academic literacies into specialist disciplines.

  • Academic literacies
  • Disciplinary literacies
  • Literacy in learning
  • Content and language integrated learning (CLIL)
  • Higher education

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)