Collaborative writing : Bridging the gap between the textbook and the workplace

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-132
Journal / PublicationEnglish for Specific Purposes
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010


A key challenge facing professional communication teachers is the need to bridge the gap between the culture of the classroom and the reality of the workplace. One area of difference between the two contexts is the way in which collaborative activities surrounding the construction of written text are enacted. Differences in collaborative practices result from factors such as the way in which hierarchies and power relationships are arranged, differing levels of knowledge and expertise, and the motives for collaboration. An understanding of this aspect of workplace writing could benefit the student writer. However, an analysis of eight currently used business communication textbooks, an important resource for ESP teachers, suggests that collaboration is discussed only in the most general terms, and specific differences between the two contexts are rarely addressed. Additionally, few tasks provide students with activity-types that would help them understand and experience the kinds of collaborative interaction that they will encounter at work. This paper argues the need for business communication textbooks to narrow the gap between the classroom and the workplace, and discusses ways in which more authentic collaborative activities can be set up in the classroom. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.