Researchers
June 23, 2020

Researching and Writing Academically in a Secondary Language

Learning a new language is never an easy acquisition, but it’s a way to activate sections of the brain that would otherwise stay mostly dormant. When the language you’re learning is a second language and you have to use it academically, it takes this acquisition to a new level of rigor. Researching and writing in a language that is not your own requires a lot of effort, practice, and dedication, but there’s a satisfaction in a job well done.
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When an individual is attempting to learn a second language, there are dozens of different aspects to that acquisition. From nuances of accents to words with multiple meanings, it’s not easy to become fluent in a language you haven’t been immersed in. When you take these issues and apply them to learning to write academically, the problem multiplies.

Writing is a process in which a person takes their mental thoughts, creates the words they want to compose to get those thoughts on paper, and then uses their target language to pen them. When the target words are in a second language, it makes the process even more complicated.

By university level, it’s expected that scholars have a solid grasp on the primary language of the country they’re in, but that’s not always the case. When a student is writing in their second language, it becomes a complicated issue of integrating basic grammar and mechanics with academic writing.

The Process of Learning a Language

How the brain learns a second language and the factors that are involved in the ease of acquiring the language are complex. There are three typical stages that are involved: learning the basics, understanding contexts, and using expression.

The basics are usually taught as children in elementary schools. In this stage, language students are learning memorization of words, repeating phrases, and comprehending sounds.

When that stage is mastered, words are then applied in context. In this stage, language learners begin to put together words into phrases that are used in situational activities. This is where students begin to understand that the same word may have multiple meanings. They begin to recognize nuances of language and are introduced to figurative speech such as idioms and hyperbole.

By stage three, the language learner is now applying what they learned in conversational settings. This is when they are able to start learning and engaging the writing process, creating work from their own minds rather than copying from a text.

Writing has to be practiced, though, with reinforcement and critiquing to learn how to improve on the language itself. When that doesn’t happen thoroughly, the second language learner enters the university level without proficiency in writing in their academic language.

Strategies to Overcome Academic Writing Challenges

The ability to write academically is crucial for a student who wants to become a researcher. But writing itself is a skill that must be cultivated by the learner if they haven’t already acquired it through experience.

Academic writing is a necessity when the material has to be systematically organized and categorized, when data has to be analyzed, and when conclusions have to be inferred and shared. Successful academic writing allows the author to take those skills into the business world or the field of research and communicate their thoughts and findings clearly.

As a second language learner, you may need to develop your own strategies to overcome the challenges you will face when it comes to writing academically, such as:

●      Understanding structures of the type of writing you’ll be expected to read and write, such as essays and scholarly articles.

●      As you read, transfer what you comprehend into written summaries. This teaches you mechanics, grammar, and sentence structure as well as content.

●      Use transition words as you write to guide you into each new section of content. You don’t need a transition word for each paragraph, but as your thoughts adjust to a new idea, a transition word can guide your writing.

●      Learn the regulations that are expected from the academic writing you’ll do. There are MLA and APA formats, essay expectations, and other regulations. You can learn these approaches by reading the same style of writing you’ll be expected to submit.

With these strategies, you can learn to adapt to any style of writing, including academic research submissions.

Impactio Can Help Your Academic Writing

Another way to guide your writing is to ensure the program you’re using has failsafes in place to ensure you’re turning in correct work. With Impactio, the all-in-one program has templates that guide your submission so you can drag and drop your content in the right formatting.

While you have to come up with the research, Impactio does the rest. After you compile your academic writing into the templates provided, you can turn your work into professional PDF documents and web pages ready for submission!

Tags Academic Writing Second Languages
Jason Collins
Writer
Jason is a writer for many niche brands with experience “bringing stories to life” for both startups and corporate partners.

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