Based on a longitudinal study of 15 English and Media undergraduates, some of whom might still face prejudice in the job market because of their idiosyncratic English, this paper explores reasons why the surface approach still has relevance and needs to be explicitly recognised and valued alongside other different approaches rather than being incorporated into other models. Research on student writing (Lea, 1995, Lea and Street, 1997, Hinkle, 1997 King, 2000, Lillis, 2000), often criticises the student deficit approach. Concentrating on surface or transcriptional features such as spelling, punctuation and grammar as transferable skills, is said to deflect attention from deep structures of writing academic conventions, generally remain implicit, and there is a need for understanding of the culture of different disciplines (Lea & Steirer (Eds), 2,000). Research has also demonstrated the significance of the power relationships in HE, and Lea and Street (1998) rightly draw attention to the importance of firstly understanding student and staff literacy practices, without making assumptions about which practices are appropriate or effective. None of this research, however, was written in anything other than what the majority of readers would appreciate as formal, standard English, which is still regarded as an indication of education and status. Fairclough(1989) says that whenever people write or read, they do so in ways which have social effects. This paper argues that acknowledging these social effects is only the first step and that the commitment needed to change an adult's writing in even minor ways is often neglecte
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