Conceptual development in technical and textbook writing

a challenge for LI and L2 student readers

Alan Jones*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution

3 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


The paper argues that the decoding skills that first year university students - both L1 and L2 students - bring to the kinds of technical writing typically found in textbooks or in academic articles are much more sophisticated than many available accounts suggest. Students need to, and do, 'go beyond the text' in a number of ways, and decoding is an inadequate term for the skills involved. Students frequently need to use prior knowledge of the field - including what Martin [33] calls its technicality 1 - to contextualise and explicate concepts found in their reading: so they need to obtain that knowledge and bring it to their reading. The obvious circularity of this condition is a key part of the problem, and solutions are suggested. Readers need to be able to handle higher order abstractions, and they need 'forward inferencing ' skills to bridge the gap between what is said and what is going to be said, supplementing the backward looking processes of anaphoric reference and bridging inferences. These reading strategies reflect the dynamics of the writing process.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the International Professional Communication Conference (IPCC 2005)
EditorsGeorge Hayhoe
Place of PublicationPiscataway, NJ
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)0780390288, 9780780390287
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Event2005 IEEE International Professional Communication Conference, IPCC 2005 - Limerick, Ireland
Duration: 10 Jul 200513 Jul 2005


Other2005 IEEE International Professional Communication Conference, IPCC 2005

Bibliographical note

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