Research Output

The paradigmatic hearts of subjects which their "English" flows through.

  Much research into the use of corpora and discourse to support higher education students on pre-sessional and in-sessional courses champions subject specificity. Drawing on the work of writers such as Bakhtin (1981) and Voloshinov (1973), in this article we extend this research by showing how the specific subject ‘context’ is fundamentally linked with the ‘English’ used within it. We first detail some of the literature related to corpus and genre studies and discuss some of the literature related to the importance of providing a context for language. We then present and discuss data from 21 interviews and 5 focus groups with subject lecturers to illustrate how the ‘English’ used in the subject areas of ‘Design’, ‘Nursing’, ‘Business’ and ‘Computing’ subjects flows through what we term their ‘paradigmatic hearts’. By ‘paradigmatic heart’ we mean the set of values, beliefs, and perceptions that represent the central or innermost engine of the subject, through which its ‘English’ flows. In ‘Design’ the paradigmatic heart is ‘visual’, ‘philosophical’ and ‘persuasive’; for ‘Nursing’ it is ‘emotional’ and ‘empathetic’, yet also ‘technical’; for ‘Business’ subjects it is ‘income generating’, ‘numerical’ and ‘persuasive’; and for ‘Computing’ it may be ‘visual’, ‘numerical’ or ‘code-based’. We demonstrate how ‘English’ flows through the paradigmatic heart of its subject and that to remove the ‘English’ from its subject paradigmatic heart changes its nature. Thus, we argue that if students are not being taught ‘English’ in the context of the subject, the ‘English’ we are teaching them will be different, and that preparation and support needs to be undertaken in the subject itself.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    01 January 2016

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  • Publisher

    Taylor & Francis

  • DOI:


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  • Library of Congress:

    LB2300 Higher Education

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    378 Higher education


Pilcher, N., & Richards, K. (2016). The paradigmatic hearts of subjects which their "English" flows through. Higher Education Research and Development, 35(5), (997-1010). doi:10.1080/07294360.2016.1138455. ISSN 0729-4360



English; corpus; genre; pre-sessional; in-sessional;

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