These posts directly involve ideas, discussion, lessons, etc. within an English for Academic Purposes teaching and learning context.

Recent me in ELT

It’s been a little while without a post… I’m sorry to myself most of all because writing for 4CinELT merges two important practices for me: academic writing for a wider audience and reflective writing. I need both of these to keep going for my own growth and mental health, frankly. I’m slowly working on a post about my teacher talking time, another about the impact of connecting with learners over the course of a 24-week program, and finally a third regarding professional decisions that can significantly change identity.

Having said this, worthy things have diverted my attention and I’d like to share them because they contribute to these two practices in their own ways. Perhaps one will resonate.

Read More »Recent me in ELT

ADJ clauses, student sentences …and Trudeau

One grammar point that comes up again and again in academic writing class is the misuse and overuse of dependent clauses. My students commonly include sentence fragments, forget dependent words i.e. relative pronouns, or attempt overly complex sentences with clause upon clause upon clause. While at higher levels, they know grammatical principles on how to construct them, their application of these principles dissolve in their own writing.

I find it’s valuable to rediscover types of dependent clause construction (and deconstruction) among the class, but it’s also more meaningful when not appearing as its own lesson, but when it stems out of a broader purpose and set of materials. I prefer to break these up into smaller chunks and integrate them into something else I’m doing with the students.Read More »ADJ clauses, student sentences …and Trudeau

Cross-disciplinary collaboration, pt. 3

If you haven’t read Part 1 (setting up assignments together) or Part 2 (explicit connections between disciplines), please do so now.

In this last post of the series, I will discuss the results of this collaboration of assignments with our first-year History professor. In particular, I will address the following:

  1. Issues arising from the ARC Notes side of the assignment
  2. My views on how it contributed to improved academic reading and writing
  3. Responses from students about its affordances and learnings
  4. Where tightening may occur with the History lecture notes assignment going forward

Read More »Cross-disciplinary collaboration, pt. 3

Cross-disciplinary collaboration, pt. 2

If you haven’t yet read Part 1, please do so now.

In this post, I aim to examine how the History course professor, my colleague, and now very good friend, Dr. Alexandra Guerson, and I collaborated more specifically, with regard to how our assignments connect to each other, as well as the affordances we have from working together than alone. Alexandra also discusses this here about her assignments.

Connecting explicitly to the content course

Another consideration in building my assignment was how to connect this to the History course beyond simply scaffolding how to read texts for the most meaning. We do not use the same texts as the History course anymore because we found that the types of sources used there were not wholly appropriate for language learning purposes (some are very long; others are written very long ago, etc.) and we did not want to encroach much into History content as the place to discuss historical concepts with most accuracy is inside the History course itself with its instructors.Read More »Cross-disciplinary collaboration, pt. 2

Cross-disciplinary collaboration, pt. 1

Part 1: Setting up assignments

On several occasions on this blog, I’ve been discussing the nature, execution, and impact of collaboration between people in the ELT environment. In the next three posts (Parts A, B, C), I’ll be focusing on the benefits and results of an ongoing collaboration of assignments between two courses in my program at the University of Toronto that all my EAP students take:

Description Course 1 Course 2
Course IFP100Y1Y – Themes in World History IFP020Y1Y – Critical Reading & Writing
Description a first-year credit course a non-credit EAP course
Curriculum designer Dr. Alexandra Guerson moi

In a true sense of collaboration, Alexandra and I will both be writing three linked posts on the different aspects of this collaboration: foundational, collaborative, and results. Aside from having worked together over the last seven years, this series derives from a talk we gave at BALEAP last April entitled “Interactivity between a first-year content course and EAP course assignment for skill transferability“. In today’s post, we situate the collaboration in terms of the foundational aspects of our program and how our two courses align with each other, with an example assignment in my course that scaffolds skills in hers. You can skip over to her post here if you like.Read More »Cross-disciplinary collaboration, pt. 1

Serial podcast for extensive reading

I’ve wanted to use Serial in class since I first listened to it. But first.

A little background first

Every year, one curriculum assignment is a quasi-extensive reading book club with students (I say ‘quasi’ because of a few items I’ll get to in a minute). For reading, students typically have stuck to required content only (i.e. for their credit course and those we selected for their ARCs and research projects). The purpose of this assignment originated because of this: we value reading a lot to improve vocabulary, notice grammatical patterns, highlight differences in genre AND that reading shouldn’t always be a chore.

With little time –inside– the curriculum and classroom instruction to cover more reading in detail, we collectively decided to create a book club conducted solely through Facebook groups with a 5% overall mark attached. Since each instructor has a defined group of students (one or two sections of around 15 students each; we have 300+ students in total in this course), opportunity to select a book of their choice wouldn’t  be possible if each instructor forced only one book onto just their group of students. Increasing interaction between different groups of students and instructors was a factor, while not significantly increasing instructor workload. Read More »Serial podcast for extensive reading

EAP warmer: learning about each other while previewing course content

In a new term with a new group of EAP students eager to get things going, I’ve always found it a little jarring to jump right into course content (my course is Critical Reading & Writing) even though time is of the essence. Also, I understand the value of community-building activities early on, so I could do the usual type of warmer activity–like Find Someone Who (sidenote: I feel a guttural shudder at the thought)–to have new students get to know each other, but no thanks. While rapport is important, I’m not a fan of activities that don’t connect pretty clearly to EAP reading and writing. I also bore myself to tears when going over a syllabus on the first day. Instead, this year I tried to combine a first-day warmer with a preview of skills that will be introduced and practiced throughout the course.

My main consideration was to simplify a variety of academic reading and writing tasks that students new to academia may not really have been exposed to so that without too many barriers, they could complete them, take a peak at what the course is about, all while getting to know each other. I settled on an identity task in a series of interdependent steps.

Read More »EAP warmer: learning about each other while previewing course content