Linguistic demands in English-language science textbooks in Hong Kong
The Asian Journal of Applied Linguistics. Volume 5, Issue 1. March 2018
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Keywords

linguistic demands
English-medium instruction
systemic functional linguistics
textbooks
Hong Kong

How to Cite

Hu, J., & Gao, X. (Andy). (2018). Linguistic demands in English-language science textbooks in Hong Kong. The Asian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 5(1), 170-180. Retrieved from https://caes.hku.hk/ajal/index.php/ajal/article/view/495

Abstract

This paper discusses the linguistic demands of English-language science textbooks for EFL learners in Hong Kong. The analysis focuses on the abstraction and information density of the language as reflected in the use of abstract nouns, complex lengthy nouns, and lengthy noun without verbs. The findings show that those linguistic features which are difficult for the learners are commonly used, the difficult language is not introduced progressively, and the language difficulty levels are not consistent in the science textbooks. Alternative linguistic choices are used in the analysed texts, which replace the abstract nouns and complex lengthy nouns, with the techniques of noun replacement, de-nominalization, and information unpacking. Information reduction is also used, which can decrease the abstraction and information density. The research indicates that textbook writers should take into account both the contents and the language when designing English-language science textbooks for EFL learners. A solution may be for English teachers and science teachers can work together to develop school-based learning materials, using the language that suits their students’ English proficiency. Additionally, bridging courses that focus on the identified linguistic challenges can be developed to enhance EFL learners’ awareness of scientific language.
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