An analysis of English academic writing in a Libyan University
This study explores English academic writing in a Libyan university. The results show a number of challenges and issues that Libyan university students experience in using English for academic writing. The study suggests intervention procedures that may correct students’ linguistic academic deficiencies. Using Gee (1999)’s D/discourse theory and Bourdieu’s theory of habitus and field, which view writing as a social practice embedded in social activities, the study takes a purely qualitative approach, presenting data descriptions by both students and lecturers. The sample size of the investigation is eight – four lecturers and four students. The data was collected mainly through classroom observation, open-ended interviews and an analysis of students’ assignment essays. The results indicate several areas of challenge for Libyan students with regard to academic writing; a lack of adequate ‘scaffolding’, a lack of ample time spent on authentic practice, and inappropriate immediate feedback. Findings also show a lack of teaching methods and strategies that correct syntactical and morphological errors, and a lack of skills – research skills. Further to this, results revealed a lack of synthesis and summary skills, referencing skills – and a lack of confidence in tackling academic writing tasks. In addition, the lack of appropriate materials to consult was a contributing factor, as was students’ social and economic status. The study calls for various interventions that may assist students to acquire academic writing skills and hence develop a sense of confidence in taking on academic tasks.