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A Students Guide to the MA TESOL N. Bell Palgrave Macmillan 2009, 59 pp., 14.

99 isbn 13: 978 0 230 22431 5 Writing an Applied Linguistics Thesis or Dissertation: A Guide to Presenting Empirical Research J. Bitchener Palgrave Macmillan 2010, 216 pp., 18.99 isbn 978 0 230 22454 4

more of a continuum than a distinction. Perhaps they were once the same chapter since, at the risk of nitpicking, one reference (p. 31) in Chapter 2 points the reader back to itself rather than to Chapter 3, Key concepts in TE SO L, where I found it. Here, too, there are summaries of more of the basic topics such as individual differences and classroom discourse. Appendix A sheds further light on terminology by elaborating on common acronyms, from American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages to World Englishes. A glossary at the end of the book takes this clarication a step further by providing denitions.
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Two titles from the same publisher in two successive years on closely related topics seem to provide proof that publications in our eld are becoming increasingly specic. Written in different parts of the world (Washington State University for Bell and Auckland University of Technology for Bitchener), both draw on current research and are strengthened by the authors personal experience. Another common feature is that each could be of interest to a wider readership than the suggested MA TE SOL / Applied Linguistics students of the titles, as this review intends to show. In A Students Guide, Bell models the academic style students will need to use themselves by including internal referencing to support the theory. Of her six chapters, the rst three (with one slight exception) are an introduction to the TE SO L discipline, with only the last three addressing the topic of studying for the MA of the books title. This is not a criticism since students will never reach the point of putting together their dissertation or thesis if they have not rst thought more widely about the eld. The rst chapter, Situating ourselves, has a section on nding the right course and another which will be useful to students mystied by the language taken for granted in MA programmes. Some quite basic terms are included. For instance, as Bell points out, the term ESL refers to a range of learning conditions (p. 18) for students who are actually learning English as a third or fourth language. The chapter ends with three suggested activities to help readers digest the content. Chapter 2, Language, learning and teaching, adds further background knowledge based around three questions, one each about the nature of language, of learning, and of teaching. The message draws on classic texts by leaders in the eld such as Halliday, Chomsky, Krashen, Oxford, and van Lier. The relationship between this chapter and the next one is

The nal three chapters assume that the reader has found a place to study and needs guidance on how to do this successfully. Chapter 4, Learning to learn in graduate school, although not written specically for international students, could be particularly helpful to them, especially the advice on relationships with peers and staff. The title of Chapter 5, Research and the (future) TE SO L instructor suggested (to me at least) that the research focus would be classroom based. This did not seem to be the case. The advice about doing library-based or primary research, which are the two topics covered, would be suitable for a wider readership, as suggested earlier. The nal chapter goes a step further: Professional development in and beyond graduate school. As yet another example of the wider potential of the book, this content could be useful to staff. I shall certainly refer to it in a forthcoming workshop on ongoing professional development for practising teachers who may or may not have an MA in mind. Despite its specic title, Bitcheners book, too, deserves a wider readership from other areas of the social sciences as the author indicates in his Preface (p. viii). The book has as one of its raisons detre the answering of questions asked by students about exactly what goes in each section of a thesis. Following a short introductory chapter explaining the books focus and organization, the content is organized around the seven parts of a thesis, with a chapter each for the abstract, introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion of results, and conclusion. Running through these chapters is the unifying thread of extracts from one particular Masters thesis that won a recent national competition in New Zealand. In each chapter, the reader has a mixture of advice and illustrations presented in boxes, questions, and subheadings. The result is a very accessible format. In order to give the avour of the book without covering every detail, this review now examines three



chapters (2, 3, and 8). These deal with sections of a thesis often confused by students: the abstract, the introduction, and the conclusion. In Chapter 2, I was interested to compare the ve-point list of an abstracts functions with a much earlier summary by Bhatia (1993: 78) and to nd this newer one more focused. The analysis of the abstract in the prizewinning thesis is done in two ways, rst in two columns with a brief analysis of each move and then sentence by sentence with a more detailed commentary. This seemed a particularly helpful way of leading students to an understanding of what is required. Very occasionally there was a glossary of terms that included in its explanation the term being dened, as in willingness to communicate being dened as the extent to which a second language learner is willing to communicate in the classroom (p. 16) but for the most part the glossaries are helpful. In Chapter 3, the thesis introduction comes under the microscope. Bitchener explains its form in terms of linguistic features such as tense, voice, and parts of speech. Students looking for a template to imitate will, of course, be disappointed. Throughout the book the author is careful not to be dogmatic: There is no hard and fast rule on this (p. 51) and Opinions vary about . . . (p. 53). This is not to say that the content is vague. In this chapter, for example, the author includes a helpful list of words from which a student could select to indicate the niche in which their own thesis is placed. Chapter 8 deals with the conclusion of a thesis and starts with a warning: Conventions may vary not only from discipline to discipline but also within disciplines. (p. 197). Against this there is advice about what all conclusions have as their aim. There is a ve-point summary of the conclusions functions, which provides an easy comparison with the earlier points mentioned for the introduction. This should help clarify once and for all the fact that a conclusion is not simply a rewrite of the introduction in different words. For readers using the book alone, rather than as part of a study centre programme, there are helpful personal notes such as the one suggesting they do their own analysis of the sample provided before reading the analysis column. All the chapters have a Further Activities section and conclude with a list of frequently asked questions, two features that make the book suitable for use in student learning centre seminars. The questions are so familiar that one can picture some students using them as the starting point to their reading. As an example, How long should the Introduction be?

Finally there is a four-page Appendix that would be an excellent nal checklist for students towards the end of their writing process. For each of the seven parts of the thesis comes a summary, in table form, of the moves and sub-moves involved in each. As one example of the considerable detail presented, the nal move of the methodology section is said to be Elucidate the data analysis procedures (p. 215) for which three sub-moves are suggested. It seems to this reviewer that staff trying to decide which of these books to put on a reading list may nd themselves suggesting both. If length were a criterion, then Bitchener offers 216 pages to Bells 159. Each provides extensive further reading, in Bells case both following each chapter and at the end, in Bitcheners only following each chapter. Only Bells has a nal index. However, these are small distinctions. As someone who is frequently asked informally for advice about postgraduate courses, particularly by international students, I would be pleased to recommend both these titles to potential and current students as well as to staff. Both books would heavily reduce the preparation time required by university teachers of graduate student seminars. What next for guidebooks in our eld? Perhaps one of the authors might consider a title answering the frequently asked question, How can I get published in Applied Linguistics/T ES O L journals? Either author would be well placed to write such a book. Reference Bhatia, V. 1993. Analysing Genre: Language Use in Professional Settings. London: Longman. The reviewer Marilyn Lewis was a senior lecturer in the Department of Applied Language Studies and Linguistics at The University of Auckland. In her retirement, she continues to do workshops with volunteers working with English Language Partners in New Zealand and with tertiary teachers in Asia. She is also the author of a number of books on learning and teaching. Email: doi:10.1093/elt/ccq052

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