Approaches to simplifying academic texts in English: English teachers’ views and practices

Rets, Irina; Astruc, Lluïsa; Coughlan, Tim and Stickler, Ursula (2022). Approaches to simplifying academic texts in English: English teachers’ views and practices. English for Specific Purposes, 68 pp. 31–46.



Reading academic and specialised texts in a foreign language is a difficult process, and support for making materials more linguistically accessible is scarce. Approaches used in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teaching could inform responses to this, as in EFL academic texts are routinely simplified to make them more comprehensible. However, there is a lack of research on the most used method of making texts more accessible – intuitive text simplification. In this study, 24 experienced EFL teachers with Spanish, Chinese and Russian language backgrounds were asked to simplify two academic texts in an online task and then to explain their rationale for each change in a follow-up stimulated recall interview. The study showed that despite the reliance on subjective approximations of comprehensibility in intuitive simplification, there is a shared understanding among teachers as to what constitutes a more accessible academic text in English. The study creates a clearer conceptualisation of the processes involved in intuitive text simplification and suggests a set of pedagogical guidelines that can be used in language teacher training for both general and specific English teaching purposes, as well as in training and support of English-medium instruction (EMI) teachers.

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