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The Language of Learning - About the author

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The author

 

Mary Mason gained a degree in English Language and Literature from the University of London in 1951. She then worked as a teacher in secondary schools and Further Education for eleven years. Later she was for fourteen years Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education of the University of Central England (now Birmingham City University).

 

This wide experience of English schools made her aware of the difficulties many students have in coming to terms with the language of academic study. She was always interested in Basil Bernstein’s early hypothesis (1957) that the failure of working class children in academic work was caused by a language deficit, not a lack of intelligence.

 

Unusually, she also had substantial experience in teaching English as a Foreign Language with five years in English medium secondary schools in Bulgaria and then writing English language materials for schools in Namibia for the British Council and the International Extension College

 

She was fortunate in being retrained as a linguist in mid career, which gave her the skills to analyse the distinctive features of academic language. Believing that what can be described can be taught, she has spent the next twenty years writing and trialling materials for explicitly teaching these features. The success of these materials in improving exam results has been startling.

 

The early materials were in book form. The latest version is the present course, written for use by the University of Central England in its prize-winning Widening Participation programme in Sixth Forms and Further Education.

 

Through this website it is now widely available to students and teachers.