In this chapter we explore the nature of academic discourse and why teachers need to help students understand and use this specialised language. The chapter provides an introduction to how academic discourse works to create complex abstract and technical meanings. It explores the structures of texts, the way academic language differs from everyday spoken discourse, and how we can work with what students already know to build their language and knowledge. Based on these insights, we provide strategies for university teachers to use that will enhance students’ ability to successfully participate in the spoken and written discourses that underpin their learning. These strategies are designed to be adopted across the curriculum. This section illustrates and discusses students’ experiences of academic discourse and what it is about academic discourse that makes it unique and challenging for the novice. We will start by considering a group of typical first-year students at a relatively young regional university in Australia. Most have entered university through means other than recent, successful high-school completion and scores. They might have entered through vocational training courses, English- language courses, university-enabling courses, or a tertiary admissions test. Many are mature students who work and raise families while studying.
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