Presentation on theme: "Olwyn Alexander Chair BALEAP the global forum for EAP professionals"— Presentation transcript:
1 Olwyn Alexander Chair BALEAP the global forum for EAP professionals Exploring teacher beliefs about teaching English for Academic Purposes at low proficiency levels.Olwyn AlexanderChair BALEAPthe global forum for EAP professionals
2 Overview of the presentation Impetus to study teacher beliefs about EAPExploring teacher beliefsPiloting Access EAP: Foundations, for low level EAP learnersReflecting on your approachPotential barriers and success factorsChanges the teachers still need to makeOrientation to teaching needed for EAP
3 Impetus to study beliefs about EAP Survey: Routes into teaching EAP – 2006 on BALEAP discussion listQuestions about training, experience and challengesResponses grouped in categories based on experiencenew EAP teachers (up to 5 years)experienced EAP teachers (more than 5 years)In order to investigate routes into EAP teaching, I conducted a small survey of present day EAP teachers which asked about the kind of training they received to prepare them to teach EAP, what kinds of courses they taught and how they continued to develop professionally.This short survey was available for completion online between the 14th of April and the 4th of August 2006.It was advertised to the BALEAP discussion list and most respondents are likely to have been teaching in the UK when they answered it.It attracted 175 responses of which 6 were incomplete and 25 completed all nine multiple choice questions but not the final open-ended question. All responses were included in the analysis.The results were grouped into three categories, depending on the length of teaching experience: up to 5 years, between 5 and10 years and more than 10 years. This gave roughly equal numbers of respondents in each group (61, 48 and 58 respectively).Data were expressed as a percentage of this number for each of the groups to allow for comparison between them. Some questions allowed more than one answer and the calculation of percentages reflects this.
4 Summary of challengesBoth initial training and continuing professional development are mainly through informal routesMost teachers have to find out for themselves what is appropriate for their contextThe challenges they face concern understandingdiscipline-specific materials and student needswhat EAP involves and how it differs from CLTOne question elicited a surprising responseHow long has it taken you to feel confident teaching EAP?The survey seems to confirm the anecdotal evidence that there is very little formal training available, and not a lot of support in the form of team teaching with more experienced colleagues.Most continuing professional development is also informal and requires the teacher to be proactive in seeking opportunities for developmentMost teachers have to find out for themselves by trial and error what is appropriate in their contextThe main challenges they faced when they began teaching EAP concerned the content of what they were teaching and not the delivery.
5 Time taken to feel confident teaching EAP In spite of the informal nature of their initial training over half of the least experienced group reported that it had taken them only one year or less to feel confident teaching EAP. A further ten said they had only just started and were still learning.In contrast, the majority in the most experienced group said it had taken them two years or more to feel confident and a third said they had needed at least five years or they were still learning.One interpretation of this might be that the inexperienced group have a narrower range of courses with more prescribed materials, which has allowed them to feel confident much sooner.It seems at odds with the high proportion of teachers who are working out what to do for themselves as I might have expected this process to take longer than a year.
6 Beliefs about learning to teach EAP I truly believe that EAP can be picked up with practice, and support, and that there is really no need for a distinct qualification in this field. As long as the teacher is experienced and is given a thorough induction and on-going support the need to pay to study for such an EAP certificate/diploma can be avoided.I truly believe that EAP can be picked up with practice, and support, and that there is really no need for a distinct qualification in this field. As long as the teacher is experienced and is given a thorough induction and on-going support the need to pay to study for such an EAP certificate/diploma can be avoided.
7 Beliefs about learning to teach EAP This claim underplays the challenge of changing from a communicative orientation to an academic orientation towards teaching.EAP involves more than applying current CLT expertise to new materials and contexts.Teachers who are unaware of the need for a fundamental change in approach may create barriers to learning for their students.This claim underplays the challenge of changing from a communicative orientation to an academic orientation for teaching EAP.
8 How is the CLT approach different from EAP? I now want to look at the differences between EFL and EAP in order to understand the shifts an ELT teacher has to makeOne of the key differences, which perhaps explains many of the comments made in the survey and in the earlier studies, can be seen by contrasting two publications which have appeared recently:Rose Senior’s The Experience of Language Teaching andKen Hyland’s English for Academic Purposes: an advanced resource book.The former has won the Ben Warren International House Trust Prize for its contribution to language teaching and both are based on many years of teaching and teacher training experience as well as solid research.The difference between them can be summed up as a difference of focus:A focus on delivery orA focus on contentFocus on delivery Focus on content8
9 The Experience of Language Teaching Prioritises delivery over contentUsing a teacher-generated framework it covers a range of aspects of classroom life: how teachers create environments suitable for language practice, how they get students 'on-side', how they manage tricky students, how they enhance the learning experience, how they develop and maintain a spirit of community. The book demonstrates how paying attention to both the learning and social needs of their class groups enables language teachers to behave in flexible ways that promote learning. (Cambridge English Language Teaching online)Senior’s book prioritises delivery over content.Using a teacher-generated framework it covers a range of aspects of classroom life: how teachers create environments suitable for language practice, how they get students 'on-side', how they manage tricky students, how they enhance the learning experience, how they develop and maintain a spirit of community. The book demonstrates how paying attention to both the learning and social needs of their class groups enables language teachers to behave in flexible ways that promote learning. Retrieved from Cambridge English Language Teaching online: on9
10 English for Academic Purposes an advanced resource book Prioritises content over deliveryThe book provides a platform for readers to engage with the main issues of the field through a series of chapters discussing the main terms and ideas, extracts from key readings and numerous research tasks. (p xv)'Wider understandings are developed... by studying texts in a comparative and questioning way which explores the relationship between disciplinary practices, institutional contexts and rhetorical practices.' (p 31). (my italics)Hyland on the other hand prioritises content over delivery.He reviews research which explores the role of EAP in academic literacy education and the tools used to understand academic texts, activities and contexts.Although he also addresses practical issues of course design and delivery, his focus is on developing‘wider understandings... by studying texts in a comparative and questioning way which explores the relationship between disciplinary practices, institutional contexts and rhetorical practices.' (2006:31).This difference in focus was also apparent in one comment from my survey, which highlighted what the respondent saw as‘…the obsession with linguistics and lack of discussion of pedagogy’ in EAP.10
11 Implications for novice EAP teachers In EAP content is the priorityability to create communicative environment is assumedstudent needs relate to performance in the target context rather than knowledge of a context-free language systemCLT teachers may not have acquired the abilityto understand text processing and production in the disciplinesto create materials appropriate for these contextsCLT teachers report feeling deskilled when teaching EAPCan lead to teacher resistance to EAP approaches11
12 Teacher beliefs Teachers’ beliefs personal constructs – guide decisions and actionsderive from teachers’ own experiences of learningevolve as teachers gain knowledge and experienceinfluenced by theories underlying training coursesImpact of teachers’ beliefspart of ‘culture of learning’ in classroom (Cortazzi and Jin)influence interaction, curriculum design, learning contentInappropriate beliefs can create barriers to effective learning on high stakes EAP courses12
13 Anecdotal teacher beliefs about low level EAP students They need general English before they do EAPThey need to master the language system and then do study skillsThey need to be taught at their level of competenceAcademic concepts are too difficult at this levelThey cannot cope with authentic academic textsThey need to meet a variety of texts and tasks to maintain interest
14 Methodology for exploring EAP teachers’ beliefs Teachers’ beliefs explored using stimulated recalleliciting comments on use of new coursebook & lessonseliciting narratives of teaching sequencesTeachers make sense of their experiences through narrativetalk their lessons into meaningfulness by retelling them, enabling interpretation of events in lessonsmake emotional and moral judgements about eventsfit teaching sequences into personal construct of teaching and beliefs about teachingposition themselves in relation to others14
15 Context for exploring teachers’ beliefs One semester course in HE institutionTwo teachers shared one class, using Access EAP: foundations as the main input for the class.Semi-structured interviews with teachers held prior to semester and weekly during the course.Students in the class gave their views in open discussion at the end of the semester.Major changes were made to the book as a result of valuable feedback from the teachers and students.The interviews were transcribed and analysed for evidence of teacher beliefs that could be potential barriers or success factors in using the materials.
16 EAP materials for pre-intermediate students (CEFR A2/B1) We don’t agree! We wrote this book to show how the EAP Essentials principles work in a complete course, and we chose to write it for low level learners because this level is not well catered for.
17 The book involves the reader in an academic context Three students are shown studying in the first semester at Gateway University. The reader follows them as they go about the university listening to lectures, reading texts and doing typical tasks. They face challenges and find solutions.The book focuses the class on the target academic context
18 Maysoun worries about hazards on a field trip and does some risk assessment Guy plagiarises in his essay but sees the error of his ways and eventually gets an ‘A’Here are some examplesChen hates speaking in public but takes part in a student association meeting.
19 Functions languageexpressing purpose Maysoun chose this course to learn about environmental issues in developing countries showing and supporting a viewpoint Computer based learning is more convenient than classroom learning because you can study at any time. taking a stance in data commentary Almost one half of Gateway University students come from outside the UK, but less than one fifth from regions outside Europe.In fact we chose to begin with purpose statements because we found some quite advanced postgraduates who had never learned this simple function and its exponents. Evaluation is usually the whole point of comparison and contrast and so it is the natural context for comparatives.
20 Noun phrase grammar and function Naming places and subjects Environmental Science, Running Track, Central Square Open-access Computer Laboratory. Summarizing ideas the use of computers using computers computer use Text cohesion The bacteria do not spread from the tick into the bite until the end of a blood feed. This delay means that the infection can be avoided if the tick is removed early.
21 How is Access EAP different from CLT materials? Pre-intermediate CLT (A2/B1)Access EAP: FoundationsDiscrete units can usually be studied in any orderText selection, usually journalistic based on topics, to cater for a wide range of interestsSyllabus is driven by grammar structuresThe language determines the choice of context and tasksGrammar prioritises verb phraseProvides practice at or just above the current level of the studentsIncremental development – each unit building on what went beforeText selection based on typical genres in authentic academic contextsSyllabus is driven by rhetorical functions and academic genresAcademic context and tasks determine the languageGrammar prioritises noun phraseProvides practice near the target level and requires scaffolding to support performanceEven pre-intermediate coursebooks, pupportedly for EAP, retain a GE syllabus (in fact it’s difficult to see what is ‘academic’ here) Refs to be inserted? BUT the language is accessible and learnable at low levels!
22 The implications of these differences Access EAP: FoundationsLow level CLT materialAssumes students are adults: aims are shared; tasks are justified; context is demonstrated.Assumes students have important prior experience: as adults, as academically motivated people, as bilingualsDeals with the jagged profile by teaching towards the targetTeacher needs to scaffold / supplement in responseInfantilizes students by assuming ‘teacher knows best’Assumes ‘low level’ applies to other aspects of student competenceDeals with the jagged profile by dividing into levels (even though level can never be accurately or consistently measured anyway)These implications cut right across the teacher and learner assumptions we saw at the beginning of the presentation. How easily do you think you could incorporate these ideas? maybe you already do. We wanted to find out how teachers might be challenged or inspired by the approach.Olwyn ...Cook (2003)
23 Primary data analysisInterviews transcribed and analysed for evidence of teacher beliefs that could be potential barriers or success factors in using Access EAP: foundations with low level learners.Beliefs uncovered inexplicit statements about lessons or teaching in generalstatements about beliefs other CLT teachers would hold but which these teachers did not hold themselvesshort narrative descriptions of classroom episodes, containing evaluations of the students, the materials or the lessons.These were analysed to uncover presuppositions and interpret evaluative comments, indicating underlying beliefs.
24 Primary data analysisI’m not very good at drilling. I think it’s worthwhile doing. It’s not something I do religiously. I’m not coming from the point of view of having done a lot of drills. They do need it because I know they’re not always getting their patterns right.Teacher evaluates her own teaching technique, drilling, in response to a task in the materials.She acknowledges that the task does not match her teaching style but is prepared to adjust this.Belief: A teacher needs to adjust her style in order to follow the specified approach to the materials in a coursebook.
25 Primary data analysisI spent some of the class doing grammar… I did a little kind of quick thing to satisfy them... something on the passive which is useful for academic writing… and they took it and ran and sort of an hour and a half later we were still doing it and it was incredible… they were so reluctant to let it go.doing grammar… something on the passive focus on language system (form) not performance (function)a little kind of quick thing to satisfy them students at this level are like children – need to be satisfiedBelief: A lesson is successful if students liked it and want to do the same activities again.
26 Secondary data analysis Arranged the belief statements in opposing pairs to constitute extreme ends of a clineCompiled the pairs of statements into a reflective questionnaireRespondents asked to choose only one statement – requires reflection on which belief is closest to their own.Trialled online with teachers on pre-sessional courses 2010These teachers should be teaching EAP (assumption about the approach on pre-sessional courses)124 complete responses
27 Secondary data analysis Which is closest to your belief about students at A2/B1 level?Students should be divided into levels and taught at the correct level in order to make progress.It is not necessary to put students into classes according to their level for them to make progress.Students should study the language system before they study academic English.Students can study the language system at the same time as they study academic English.Students should be challenged with new and unfamiliar material and difficult tasks.Students should not be challenged with material and tasks which might be too difficult for them.
28 Secondary data analysis Which is closest to your belief about students at A2/B1 level?It is not necessary to relate tasks and activities in the classroom to a university context.The teacher should relate tasks and activities in the classroom to a university context.A lesson is successful if the students liked it and want to do the same activities again.A lesson is successful if the students struggled but progressed in their learning.Students need to build up topic based vocabulary, related to their discipline.Students need to build up functional vocabulary for comparing, defining or discussing problems.
29 Secondary data analysis Which is closest to your belief about students at A2/B1 level?Students need to learn verb tenses and sentence linking words.Students need to learn noun phrases and meaning relations between sentences.Students should practise reading, writing, listening and speaking at their level of competence.Students should be supported to read, write, listen and speak beyond their level of competence.It is the students’ responsibility to develop as independent learners.It is the teacher’s responsibility to develop students as independent learners.
30 Potential barriers and success factors Beliefs aboutlow level learnersteaching low level learnersteaching EAP to low level learnersBelief statements about low level learners, about teaching low level learners and about teaching EAP to this group are shown in opposing pairs, together with the percentage of respondents who selected each belief in the online survey.
31 Beliefs about low level learners Potential barriers to EAP%Success factors for EAPStudents learning a second language are similar to children learning their first language. 8Students learning a second language are adults with experience of learning their first language. 92Students should be divided into levels and taught at the correct level in order to make progress. 73It is not necessary to put students into classes according to their level for them to make progress. 27Students should study the language system before they study academic English. 32Students should study the language system at the same time as they study academic English. 68
32 Beliefs about low level learners Potential barriers to EAP%Success factors for EAPStudents should follow the natural order of acquisition: listening / speaking before reading / writing. 8Students should learn language skills in the order that suits their needs and abilities. 92Students should not be challenged with material and tasks which might be too difficult for them. 20Students should be challenged with new and unfamiliar material and difficult tasks. 80Students at this level are not able to study independently. 7Students at this level are able to study independently. 93
33 Beliefs about teaching low level learners Potential barriers to EAP%Success factors for EAPA teacher need not explain the aims of a lesson because reflection is not important at this level. 2A teacher should explain the aims of a lesson to help students to reflect on their learning. 98A lesson is successful if the students liked it and want to do the same activities again. 19A lesson is successful if the students struggled but progressed in their learning. 81It is important at low levels to correct all the mistakes in students’ writing or speaking. 6It is important at low levels to correct only mistakes relating to the focus of the lesson. 94
34 Beliefs about teaching low level learners Potential barriers to EAP%Success factors for EAPIt is the students’ responsibility to develop as independent learners. 25It is the teacher’s responsibility to develop students as independent learners. 75If students are working towards an exam, lessons should focus on exam tasks in past exam papers. 10If students are working towards an exam, lessons should focus on the skills and language tested. 90
35 Beliefs about teaching EAP to low level learners Potential barriers to EAP%Success factors for EAPIt is not necessary to relate tasks and activities in the classroom to a university context. 18The teacher should relate tasks and activities in the classroom to a university context. 82Students need to build up topic based vocabulary, related to their discipline. 20Students need to build up functional vocabulary for comparing, defining or discussing problems. 80Students need to learn verb tenses and sentence linking words. 32Students need to learn noun phrases and meaning relations between sentences. 68
36 Beliefs about teaching EAP to low level learners Potential barriers to EAP%Success factors for EAPNewspapers and magazines are a good source of texts for this level. 26Academic texts from textbooks can be adapted for this level. 74Students at this level cannot understand and discuss academic concepts even in their first language. 10Students at this level can understand and discuss academic concepts in their first language. 90Students should practise reading, writing, listening and speaking at their level of competence. 34Students should be supported to read, write, listen and speak beyond their level of competence. 66
37 Beliefs which create barriers to efficient learning Students should be divided into levels and taught at the correct level in order to make progress.Students should study the language system before they study academic English.A lesson is successful if the students liked it and want to do the same activities again.Students should not be challenged with material and tasks which might be too difficult for them.Students need to build up topic based vocabulary, related to their discipline.Students need to learn verb tenses and sentence linking words.Students should practise reading, writing, listening and speaking at their level of competence.It is the students’ responsibility to develop as independent learners.37
38 Challenge for CLT teachers The main challenge is the teachers themselves – their willingness to engage with new context‘An EAP teacher will recognize the importance of applying to his/her own practice the standards expected of students and other academic staff.’ (BALEAP Competency Framework)38
39 Challenge for CLT teachers & EAP managers Border crossing (Pavlenko and Lantolf, 2000)Teachers need to accept they are entering new teaching spaceidentity as a teacher reconstructed to some extentthreats to personal construct of teaching results in confusion, strangeness and conflictLoss of expertise (Golombek and Johnson, 2004)lose expert frame of referenceperceive self as noviceCLT teachers need thorough induction and on-going support to function effectively in the new context.39
40 Orientation required to teach EAP Positive restlessness (Kuh et al. 2005)restless in a positive waynever quite satisfied with performanceoriented towards continuing professional developmentGraduate attributes (Enhancement Themes, 2010)able to critically evaluate existing understandings and recognise limitations of own knowledgeintellectually curious and open to new ways of thinkingable to respond effectively to unfamiliar problems in unfamiliar contexts40
41 ReferencesCook, Vivian (2003) ‘Materials for Adult beginners from an L2 User Perspective’. In Developing Materials for Language Teaching, Tomlinson, Brian (Ed.) London: Continuum, pp275–290.Golombek, P. R. and Johnson, K. E. (2004) ‘Narrative inquiry as a mediational space: examining emotional and cognitive dissonance in second-language teachers’ development’. Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, 10/3, ppKuh, G., Kinzie, J., Schuh, J. H. and Whitt, E. J. (2005) ‘Never let it rest lessons about student success from high-performing colleges and universities’. Change, 37/4 pp 44 – 51Nicol, D. (2010) The foundation for graduate attributes: developing self-regulation through self and peer-assessment. Enhancement Themes.Pavlenko , A. and Lantolf, J. P. (2000) ‘Second language learning as participation and the reconstruction of selves’. In Lantolf (Ed) Sociocultural Theory and Second Language Learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.