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Plausibility, Power & Progress in EAP

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Plausibility, Power & Progress in EAP

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Inherent power structures across departments and (mutual) ignorance are barriers to collaboration - and thus barriers to language curriculum renewal and teaching that meets learner needs. Through a narrative account of our own experience, we reflect in this talk on the highly productive inter-knowingness that has emerged and evolved between the English Language Centre and academic departments at Durham University. We relate how professional image management and the development of our own 'plausibility' among academic staff has led to a change in relationship, from 'working for' to 'working with'. Most importantly, we examine how this evolution has benefitted the student language learning experience.

Inherent power structures across departments and (mutual) ignorance are barriers to collaboration - and thus barriers to language curriculum renewal and teaching that meets learner needs. Through a narrative account of our own experience, we reflect in this talk on the highly productive inter-knowingness that has emerged and evolved between the English Language Centre and academic departments at Durham University. We relate how professional image management and the development of our own 'plausibility' among academic staff has led to a change in relationship, from 'working for' to 'working with'. Most importantly, we examine how this evolution has benefitted the student language learning experience.

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Plausibility, Power & Progress in EAP

  1. 1. PLAUSIBILITY, POWER & PROGRESS enhancing student language learning through professional collaboration Chris Macallister | Steve Kirk Durham University English Language Centre
  2. 2. OVERVIEW 1. A Crisis of Identity 2. Mistaken Identities 3. Emerging Plausibility 4. A Third Space for ‘Language Teaching’ 5. Summary Insights & Questions
  3. 3. 1| A CRISIS OF IDENTITY
  4. 4. EAP Unit Identity: what are we for? • Language teaching • Academic literacy • Education studies • Service provider • Research
  5. 5. Where does The Academy want to put us? Different homes around the country demonstrate our ‘crisis of identity’… • A Central Department (King’s College London and Bristol) • Part of the International Office (Cardiff) • Within a school of Education (Nottingham)
  6. 6. Where does The Academy want to put us? Different homes around the country demonstrate our ‘crisis of identity’… • Within the Arts and Humanities Faculty (Durham) • Integrated with a Modern Languages Centre (Glasgow and Northumbria) • Outsourced completely to a private provider (Newcastle)
  7. 7. 2| MISTAKEN IDENTITIES
  8. 8. Mistaken Identities I: from one Extreme… 1 TEFL approach: EAP only as language practice The false universalism of CLT: academic content reduced to a carrier vehicle; language largely seen as a global practice
  9. 9. Mistaken Identities I: from one Extreme… 1 TEFL approach: EAP only as language practice Problems: • Inter-knowingness and Ignorance • Power structures and barriers • A deficient student language learning experience
  10. 10. Mistaken Identities II: to another Extreme 2 Approach of teaching language only as academic content (metalinguistic lectures) Problems: • A misdirected student language learning experience – our students are not students of linguistics! • professional image management – the EAP tutor masquerading as a lecturer?
  11. 11. Mistaken Identities III: Fragmentation 3 The EAP centre as a ‘diaspora’ unit: each department is given its own in-house language teacher(s) Similar to CLIL (Coyle et al 2010), and some Critical EAP approaches (Benesch 2001)
  12. 12. Mistaken Identities III: Fragmentation 3 The EAP centre as a ‘diaspora’ unit: each department is given its own in-house language teacher(s) Problem: a lack of a central identity and pedagogical vision • A potentially inconsistent student language learning experience • Professional image management – the EAP centre as a supplier of EAP tutors: Why not outsource at this point?
  13. 13. Mistaken Identities III: Fragmentation 3 The EAP centre as a ‘diaspora’ unit: each department is given its own in-house language teacher(s) Problem: a lack of a central identity and pedagogical vision • How do you achieve language curriculum renewal & inter-knowingness?
  14. 14. Mistaken Identities IV: Activism 4 CEAP – EAP as a pedagogy of liberation (Benesch 2001) Mistaken view of ‘empowerment’… Legitimacy – do the departments or students actually want this?
  15. 15. Mistaken Identities IV: Activism 4 CEAP – EAP as a pedagogy of liberation (Benesch 2001) Problems: • A potentially inconsistent student language learning experience • professional image management – the EAP tutor as ‘political officer’ and unofficial student representative? • A head on clash with power structures?
  16. 16. Evolution of thinking and practice at Durham…
  17. 17. 3| EMERGING PLAUSIBILITY
  18. 18. Tipping Point / crystallising notion: EAP as academic work
  19. 19. EAP as Language Work EAP as Academic Work
  20. 20. EAP as Language Work EAP as Academic Work Grammatical Accuracy Vocabulary Choice Spoken Fluency Pronunciation & Intelligibility (etc)
  21. 21. EAP as Language Work EAP as Academic Work Grammatical Accuracy Understanding the Practices of the Academy Vocabulary Choice Disciplinary Differences Spoken Fluency Writing and Speaking for Content Learning Pronunciation & Intelligibility Integration and Synthesis of Reading (etc) (etc)
  22. 22. from: language academic work work
  23. 23. to: academic work language work
  24. 24. Shift in Professional Identity (i): More legitimacy at Durham Greater sense of ability to contribute Discoursal shift  Plausibility
  25. 25. Shift in Professional Identity (ii): Engagement in Scholarship Legitimate (peripheral?) Participation Research Activity & Researcher Learning
  26. 26. Shift in Professional Identity (iii): Increasingly shared set of values and principles underlying our practice
  27. 27. We’re beginning to think we know who we are (!) And this is helping us to: Forge connections Create collaborations
  28. 28. Strategy: Waving the flag: presenting at every opportunity Getting a good rep: in every Durham department Watching our language: talking for academics
  29. 29. Results: Doctoral training sessions Admissions training Geography Induction Course for UGs Committee representation
  30. 30. Results: Visibility Raising Increased Plausibility Positive Feedback Reinforcing of emerging identity
  31. 31. 4| TOWARDS A THIRD SPACE FOR LANGUAGE TEACHING
  32. 32. Curriculum Renewal: (EAP as academic literacy…)
  33. 33. Curriculum Renewal: E.g. Writing & Speaking: now always emerge out of (academic) reading Content matters. Cognitive challenge matters.
  34. 34. Curriculum Renewal: E.g. Language work as the surface reflection of academic work e.g. the passive…
  35. 35. Curriculum Renewal: Teaching the why… Genuine dialogic space between: language work & academic work student acculturation & empowerment
  36. 36. Student Learning: Better preparation for Durham: Academy-invested sense of language work More realistic management of expectations Demystification of the road ahead
  37. 37. 5| SUMMARY INSIGHTS & QUESTIONS
  38. 38. Impacts of Being in a Third Space: Students are being increasingly better prepared Teaching materials are evolving in this new space We’re sitting at the table, not (we hope) on the menu !
  39. 39. Impacts of Being in a Third Space: We’re sitting at the table: E.g. IT skills audit project Employability Skills Lecturer Training
  40. 40. Summary Insights: Theorisation of Practice. Practicalisation of Theory ‘Epistemic Artefacts’ for change Dialogue. Collaboration. ‘With’ not ‘for’.
  41. 41. Questions for MFL: What is the relationship (& dialogue) btwn lang. teachers & academics? Do lecturers teach language? Do lang. teachers engage in scholarship? How far does content matter? Does it change who you are as a teacher? Who your students are… and what they (should be) do(ing) with language? To what end?
  42. 42. Questions for MFL: How far do (e.g.) international offices draw on language teacher expertise in language and culture (do they draw only on academics?)
  43. 43. thank you
  44. 44. s.e.kirk@dur.ac.uk | c.j.macallister@dur.ac.uk (@stiiiv)
  45. 45. ABSTRACT + LINKS • Inherent power structures across departments and (mutual) ignorance are barriers to collaboration - and thus barriers to language curriculum renewal and teaching that meets learner needs. Through a narrative account of our own experience, we reflect in this talk on the highly productive inter-knowingness that has emerged and evolved between the English Language Centre and academic departments at Durham University. We relate how professional image management and the development of our own 'plausibility' among academic staff has led to a change in relationship, from 'working for' to 'working with'. Most importantly, we examine how this evolution has benefitted the student language learning experience. • Conference Link: http://www.dur.ac.uk/resources/mlac/aulc/conference2013timetable2.pdf • http://www.dur.ac.uk/mlac/aulc.2013/

Editor's Notes

  • Frame this in terms of a view into different practice that may or may not have direct application for MFL – but is itself interknowingness.Keep coming back to student learning: without a firm sense of (academy invested) identity, students probably don’t get the best deal, given the context they’re in…
  • Maybe important to hear that the ‘crisis’ comes from both sides: it would appear The Academy doesn’t quite know where to put us…and this means the Sector is, arguably, still a little unsure of itself – at least on the ground.
  • Maybe important to hear that the ‘crisis’ comes from both sides: it would appear The Academy doesn’t quite know where to put us…and this means the Sector is, arguably, still a little unsure of itself – at least on the ground.
  • In this view, there is no need for collaboration, as we (plural) have different jobs. We teach the English; departments take care of the rest. Crucially, this leaves ELCs open to privatisation, as ‘anybody’ can provide language training. Need to see this from the perspective of both the ELC and the departments, changing programme heads etc (and thus the need for collaboration, to continue the awareness raising). It also legitimizes a steady-state curriculum – which is what we tend to see in waves of EFL (and EAP) textbook editions
  • In this view, there is no need for collaboration, as we (plural) have different jobs. We teach the English; departments take care of the rest. Crucially, this leaves ELCs open to privatisation, as ‘anybody’ can provide language training. Need to see this from the perspective of both the ELC and the departments, changing programme heads etc (and thus the need for collaboration, to continue the awareness raising). It also legitimizes a steady-state curriculum – which is what we tend to see in waves of EFL (and EAP) textbook editions
  • Interesting to consider whether the label ‘lecturer’ impacts on self-perception and identity (we are ‘teaching fellows’ – that feels quite different). Key example of classroom impact: use of powerpoint in every EAP class.
  • The story of our evolution in ideas and practice, and the benefits this brought – and continues to bring…
  • Thediscoursal shift in particular is part of the ‘professional image management’ mentioned in the abstract.
  • One of the knock-on effects here is on the kind of staff we hire now for PS – and our sense of the skills and knowledge they need to have to enact our curriculum
  • + re-writing Section 1.3 of the Learning and Teaching Handbook.
  • Cuts the right line, we think, between ‘the lecture’, the ‘language lesson’ and the ‘critical dialogue’ extremes that Chris alluded to earlier.Analogy here with the relationship we forged and try to sustain: two-way dialogue between the ELC and other University units (service and academic) – Canagarajah type (e.g. effect of EdD on discourse, teacher induction, speaking to Ss, and then speaking with depts)
  • And feedback is good. E.g. Geography, Law School internal review.
  • Plus, in passing, upcoming session on Jan 30 co-run by Judith Jurowska and Philip on ‘Academic Integrity’, coming out of the Geography project
  • Interesting aside: in Northumbria MFL teachers were to be implicated in teaching EAP (mistaken identity 1)…
  • Interesting aside: in Northumbria MFL teachers were to be implicated in teaching EAP (mistaken identity 1)…
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