I wrote most of these articles and conference reports while I was doing my M.Ed.(CI). Originally put up on the website TeachAsiaOnline.com (defunct since 2009), I have decided to archive them here as I think most of the information is still relevant and useful for others. (2012) I'm now picking up where I left off to write about more recent seminars I attended.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Three Keys to Success with your Learners in EAP (English for Academic Purposes)

Speaker: Mr. Allen Davenport
Organised by: CUP, Bangkok
Date: 27 January 2015
Location: Windsor Suites, Bangkok
Promoting: Unlock course book series

In his first lecture of the day Mr. Davenport explored three areas to help learners of EAP.

1. Critical Thinking
Mr. Davenport assumed that most of the audience was already familiar Bloom's Taxonomy, but
the 3 people next to me didn't know it. We were asked to do not just one, but two exercises applying our knowledge of the taxonomy that obviously many didn't have. He should have noticed and explained it after the first exercise!

The taxonomy represents an ascending scale from lower- to higher order thinking skills, starting from remembering, understanding and applying to analysing, evaluating and creating. His suggestion was to "vary their [the students'] thinking process by varying the level of their exercises", which means it should be built up from low to high.

2. Informed Language Development
The Academic Word Lists (AWL's) of Dr. Averil Coxhead have 570 head words. Websites like eapfoundation.com and nottingham.co.uk can identify the academic words in a pasted text and even provide a gap-fill maker using the AWL. However, Mr. Davenport said, the AWL does not provide enough support for lower level learners and does not provide any context.

Therefore, he stressed the need for using a special corpus for academic English: the Cambridge Academic English Corpus, which contains 400 million academic words and phrases. Like the Corpus of English, is contains the frequency of language, collocations, phrases ("chunks") and patterns, and authentic context.

3. Meaningful use of Technology
Technology in the class room is a student motivator (also beyond the classroom) and in line with expectations of the students. Mr. Davenport showed us a variety of activities using a video in the classroom and mentioned "blended learning" (a mix of classroom and computer-guided activities).

To make a video work in class
  • make it intentional (prepare before class)
  • active (assign a task while they are watching)
  • video can replace reading/listening in the book
  • should be referenced again later (follow up)
  • integrated
  • relevant and personalised ("adapting is better than supplementing").
Mr. Davenport kindly made his presentation available to the audience Three Keys to Success with your Learners in EAP.

My comment
The list above is relevant for all classroom activities, with or without technology.

Academic vocabulary. Smith, SCH. 2013. Web. Feb 2015.
     < http://www.eapfoundation.com/vocab/academic/ >
Bloom, B. S. et al. Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals.
     Handbook I: Cognitive domain. New York: David McKay Company, 1956. Print.
Haywood, Sandra. The AWL Highlighter. University of Nottingham. Feb 2015.
     < http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/alzsh3/acvocab/awlhighlighter.htm >
Headwords of the Academic Word List. 2010. Victoria University of Wellington. Feb 2015.
     < http://www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/resources/academicwordlist/awl-headwords >

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