In at the Deep End: The Struggles of First-Year Hungarian University Students Adapting to the Requirements of Written Academic Discourse in an EFL Context

  • Francis J. Prescott
Part of the Multilingual Education book series (MULT, volume 29)


This paper describes the principal findings of an ethnographic study of 20 first-year bachelor’s students of English at a large Hungarian state university. The research was done over three semesters, and the main aim was to construct a grounded theory explaining how new students become enculturated into written academic discourse in an EFL context. Another point of interest was to investigate the role played in this process by a compulsory academic skills course. The research framework drew on contrasting theoretical constructs of learning: the first was Swales’ (Other floors, other voices: A textography of a small university building. Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ, 1998) description of the academic discourse community (ADC) and the other was Lave and Wenger’s (Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge University Press, New York, NY, 1991) model of learning through peripheral participation in communities of practice. The theoretical model that was the outcome of the research describes the students’ experience in their first year in three phases. The main features of each phase will be described, and the usefulness of the model for understanding the broad differences between students will be discussed.


Academic writing Academic discourse community Writing course EFL 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francis J. Prescott
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Humanities, Department of English LinguisticsKároli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in HungaryBudapestHungary

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