Academic Writing Within a University Setting: Challenges and Perspectives (the case of Russia)
Competence in academic writing among university undergraduates has been a key area of research for over the last thirty years. However, the dominant status of English as the lingua franca of the global academic community has led to substantial changes in the academic language landscape of non-Anglophone countries. In particular, local traditions and practices of L1 academic writing within a university context tend to be undersupported while L2 (English) academic writing experience is treated as a top teaching priority. The present study, carried out with the help of the LIDHUM project team, reports results on the current role of academic writing in L1 vs. L2 in Russia. The questionnaire was developed for first- and third-year undergraduates of a leading national research university to pose such questions as: whether academic writing plays an important role in the university; whether L1 writing is supported; which L1 and L2 written genres students use; how much time students spend on classroom-based vs. home-based writing; whether written tasks require critical thinking competence; whether academic writing is supported; and how writing skills are developed. The paper focuses on L1/L2 similarities and differences as well as on first-year undergraduates’ (i.e., entry-level) writing competence vs. third-year students’ perceptions of writing skills. The study likewise reflects on developmental needs, which are also relevant for the European context.