The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Monday, January 12, 2015

Making EAP more accessible

I recently came across the abstract for a talk at an EAP event (a BALEAP PIM; a professional issues meeting, so a chance for UK-based EAP teachers to get together) via Twitter. It was on a topic that I’m interested in, so I clicked through to read it. It was quite long (294 words for a 30-min talk), but I persevered. On first reading, I have to say, I couldn’t really understand what it was about at all. It took me three or four readings to get to grips with it, and even then, I only really got the gist. The problem? It was written in such an impenetrable academic style that even as someone who’s been involved in EAP for a while, I found it hard going. I won’t name names and to be fair to the writer, they had aimed it appropriately at their (rather niche) audience.

I asked myself though how accessible this kind of thing would be to the newbie EAP teacher or the teacher who only does a bit of EAP teaching (perhaps on one of the many pre-sessionals that take on masses of ELT professionals every summer). And if we stretch the net further (albeit hypothetically as this event was taking place in the UK), how accessible would it be to the average EAP teacher globally who is likely to be a non-native speaker, working in a non-anglophone country, at a university that has decided to switch to English-medium instruction and has brought in English teachers who were probably training in general ELT, most likely in state secondary schools and who’ve had almost no training to introduce them to teaching English in an academic context? (Apologies for that sentence, but I hope you get the point!)

So when I was putting together the outline (not an ‘abstract’) for my session at this week’s online EAP event organized by the University of Sheffield, I thought very carefully about my wording. Here’s what I came up with:

Global EAP: what does it mean to you?

With increasing numbers of universities across the world switching to English medium instruction, the demand for EAP is set to grow. But what does EAP mean in different contexts? Are we all talking about the same thing?

In this session, I’ll share my own experiences of meeting teachers of English at university level from across the world and discuss the differences I’ve come across in terms of students, teachers and institutions. I’d also like to hear from you about what EAP means in your own context. 

We’ll finish off by considering the implications of these differences for the future of EAP resources, teacher training and professional development.

The whole thing is written using words from the Oxford 3000™ - a list of 3000 common words that a good intermediate learner of English might expect to know. The only exception is the acronym EAP itself – but I figured that as it was already in the title of the event, I could probably get away with it! 

If you’d like to tune in and join in the discussion, it’s a completely free event and open to all. My session will be on Thursday 15th January at 11.00 GMT. Go to the event website for more information and to find links to all the sessions.

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Blogger Tyson Seburn said...

That's good thinking! I don't know if EAP in general is that inaccessible for the most part, though I can see what you mean from some abstracts. I'm sorry I missed your plenary for the webcon--too early for me. Can't wait to catch it on vid.

12:17 am  
Blogger The Toblerone Twins said...

Thanks for the comment. I was exaggerating a bit to make a point and the particular abstract that prompted my post was probably at the extreme end. I still think that EAP can be daunting, especially for all those non-native speaker teachers around the world who suddenly find themselves being asked to teach academic English (due to the spread of EMI) often with very little training or support. I think that 'we' (i.e. established EAP folks in anglophone countries) are so used to talking amongst ourselves that we perhaps don't always consider that wider audience who might want to join in but don't feel comfortable with all the jargon and high-brow language.
Sadly, I think there was an issue with the recording of my session, so only the second half got recorded - a minor technical glitch in an otherwise great event. Did you catch many of the sessions? I thought it was great to hear such a range of different perspectives.

12:20 pm  
Blogger Tyson Seburn said...

Sorry to hear about the glitch for your vid---one I very much wanted to see. I caught most of the latter half sessions as by that point I was at the uni and could settle in. I think the one about Rwanda caught my eye the most.

RE our earlier discussion about EAP, you're probably right. I wonder though, if you are unable to feel comfortable being involved in 'our' discussions about EAP, how comfortable could you be teaching about them in a HE setting?

11:54 pm  

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