What is required to teach EAP?

This guest post is by Gemma Campion – currently a colleague at Nottingham. We co-wrote a chapter on teacher education and development for the Routledge Handbook of EAP which is due to be published later this year. Gemma won the BALEAP MA dissertation award in 2012 ‘The learning never ends’ Investigating teachers’ experiences of moving from English for General Purposes to English for Academic Purposes in the UK context; What are the main challenges associated with beginning to teach EAP, and how can these challenges be overcome?’”

Since my days as an ESOL teacher, deciding to study an MA with some vague sense that it would help me get into EAP, I have always been interested in how it is that one becomes an EAP practitioner, perhaps particularly because of the apparent mystery that seems to surround it. As an outsider to the profession I had a sense that EAP was quite different to other types of ELT I had experience of, but I was never sure quite how; I’d read bits of information; EAP Essentials for example, with its comparative table of ‘General English’ and ‘EAP’ attempts to provide a comprehensive account of the differences, but the problem was often that I didn’t even recognise the ‘General English’ that was described in the EAP literature (given the plethora of contexts and forms this can take). So determined was I to try and find some answers, I even devoted my Masters dissertation to investigating the process of learning to teach EAP, but due a dearth of relevant research and literature, my understanding was limited to the small number of insights I gained from my own research with six EAP teachers. I wasn’t surprised therefore to see the recent request from the English teacher in Greece on the BALEAP mailing list (see thread ‘EAP experience question’ which began 04/12/14), asking for advice about how she could go about getting into EAP in the UK. I was more surprised however to see how a rather innocent enquiry provoked such a long and animated (at times even verging on heated) debate. What has struck me about the ensuing exchange is the apparent strength of feeling that people seem to have on this topic.

For those who may have missed, or not have access to the conversation, a whole range of views were expressed; from proponents of ‘ELT experience’, along with CELTAs and DELTAs, through to those arguing that a background in academia is more important. At its centre, the debate seems to draw on a basic dichotomy/distinction between skills and knowledge; is it more important to have a firm set of (CELTA/DELTA inspired) teaching skills in one’s repertoire, to be able to go into the classroom and deliver well-staged, neatly executed lessons, or does EAP require MA holders and ‘academics’ (those in possession of ‘paper qualifications’) who, even if lacking in teaching skills and experience, may nonetheless have a much better understanding of academic literacies and the university context, and perhaps also a more questioning, critical disposition, such as we hope to foster in our students? Although these crude distinctions are, in some cases, a reduction of the views expressed, they nonetheless get at the types of binaries which seem to underpin what are essentially quite deep philosophical differences in beliefs about teaching EAP. For me, particularly with the increasing commodification of higher education, it seems that such questions are doubly significant because they are also inescapably political in nature. If we take the former view of EAP teaching; what for me is something of a reduction of TEAP to a set of skills, which can be learned on a teacher-training course, what implications does this have for our status within the institutions for which we work? On the other hand, if ELT qualifications and background aren’t important, what does this do to our identity as specialists, who have had to undergo formal training in order to be able to do what we do?

Views expressed in the conversation also draw on distinctions between experience and disposition; with some comments pointing to the importance of EAP experience, while for others it is a teacher’s disposition, their flexibility to adapt for example, which marks them out as the ideal TEAP candidate. For me the question of experience has always been slightly perplexing; so often it is called upon in the professional TEAP literature as a sort of benchmark of quality, yet nowhere does anybody really explain why experience is of such fundamental importance, or justify why experience is necessarily equated with expertise and competency. Alongside references to the value of experience seems to be a corresponding preoccupation with the short-comings of the novice, albeit usually in the (slightly patronising) context of how the ‘novice’ can be brought up to standard. We see this for example in the British Council’s ‘Pathways in EAP’ (1) , which makes very broad assumptions about teachers based on their level of experience in EAP; those at entry level are told, for example to ‘beware’ of ‘overconfidence’. BALEAP’s TEAP Accreditation Scheme is similarly underpinned by the belief that development should be based on level of experience. What is it about experience that is so key for an EAP role?

What also interests me is, given that the question of what is required to be an effective EAP practitioner continues to provoke strong reactions, and varied responses, is why the profession has, collectively, always seemed so reticent about it. Aside from a couple of PIMS in the past couple of decades (2) and a handful of studies (a significant number of them unpublished MA dissertations; inter alia Alexander, 2007; Elsted, 2012; Campion, 2012; Post, 2010) historically, very little attention has been given to this issue. For me, this fact is as worthy of consideration as the question itself. I wonder if it is because of the way in which the question of what is required to become an EAP practitioner is intimately bound up with larger questions about practitioner identity, together with the sorts of political implications mentioned above. In order to know what is required, we need to know what we are, and perhaps this is the issue which seems to hold the greatest contention.

Despite some recent developments indicating perhaps a move towards a greater clarification and professionalization of the TEAP role; the inception of the BALEAP Competencies Framework for Teachers of English for Academic Purposes (CFTEAP) in 2008, the emergence of MA programmes in TEAP in recent years, alongside other short TEAP courses; and most notably perhaps, BALEAP’s recent launch of the TEAP Accreditation Scheme in 2014, there are also equally some (more depressing) signs of a greater deprofessionalisation of the role; some TEAP courses and MA programmes have closed, many EAP jobs are now offered on a short-term and / or zero hours basis, and we are increasingly seeing out-sourcing of EAP provision to external providers. The professional literature and most adverts for TEAP jobs continue to favour generic ELT qualifications over specialist TEAP ones (3), suggesting that there isn’t anything particularly specialist needed to teach EAP.

The issue of EAP practitioner identity is again one that has received very little attention, but perhaps this is where we need to start. Ambiguities surrounding our collective identity were summed up in an earlier thought-provoking, blog post on here by Julie King (see ‘Credentials, Credibility and the EAP Practitioner’ June 2012). This post raised the question of where we see ourselves in relation to others; part of the broader world of ELT; inherently language problem-fixers, serving the needs of the academy, or closer to the academic community, with aspirations to the same sorts of entitlements to carry out research and scholarly activities that characterise work within the disciplines (4). Perhaps tackling questions such as this will help us to get a little closer to understanding not only what we are, but importantly, what we want or aspire to be. Then we might finally be in a better position to give a more coherent answer to the question of what is required to become an EAP practitioner.

(1) See: http://englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/continuing-professional-development/pathways-eap

(2) BALEAP PIM on Teacher Training in 2001, and BALEAP PIM on Teacher Education in 2014.

(3) The CFTEAP for example includes ‘Cambridge ESOL of Trinity Diploma in English Language Teaching (or equivalent)’ in its list of ‘appropriate qualifications for the UK context’ as well as an ‘undergraduate degree’, ‘postgraduate degree’, with the most specific qualification being an ‘ELT/TESOL/Applied Linguistics focus’ in an undergraduate or postgraduate degree (pp.11-12).

(4) Another post on here ‘EAP in the East Midlands: Scholarly Activity and the EAP Practitioner’ Alex Ding, December 2014, provides a summary of a meeting which was held to discuss the topic of scholarly activity for EAP practitioners, and issues of personal and professional development.

References

Alexander, O. (2007) ‘Groping in the dark or turning on the light: routes into teaching English for Academic Purposes’. In Lynch, T. (ed.) Teaching Languages for Academic Purposes. Edinburgh: IALS, Edinburgh University.
BALEAP (2014) TEAP CPD Scheme, available at http://www.baleap.org.uk/projects/teap-scheme
BALEAP (2008) Competency Framework for Teachers of English for Academic Purposes, available at http://www.baleap.org.uk/media/uploads/pdfs/teap-competency-framework.pdf
British Council (n.d.) Pathways in EAP, available at http://englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/continuing-professional-development/pathways-eap

Campion, G. (2012) The Learning never ends: investigating teachers’ experiences of moving from English for General Purposes to English for Academic Purposes in the UK context; What are the main challenges associated with beginning to teach EAP, and how can these challenges be overcome? Unpublished Masters Dissertation. University of Nottingham.
Ding, A. (2014) EAP in the East Midlands: Scholarly Activity and the EAP Practitioner, available at https://teachingeap.wordpress.com/2014/12/
Elsted, F. (2012). TEAP teacher training & professional development in EAP: A Masters dissertation study. Unpublished Masters Dissertation. University of Essex.
King, J. (2012) Credentials, credibility and the EAP Practitioner, available at https://teachingeap.wordpress.com/2012/06/
Post, D. (2010) The transition from teaching General English to English for Academic Purposes: an investigation into the challenges encountered by teachers. Unpublished Masters Dissertation. University of Bath

Advertisements

37 Comments on “What is required to teach EAP?”

  1. fielsted says:

    Reblogged this on ELT curious.

    Like

  2. I will be brave and have a first ‘go’ at replying to this interesting blog entry. Firstly, one way round this apparent ‘impasse’ might be to ask the students what they think. What do they value most about an EAP teachers? Is it their teaching skills that they ‘notice’ most, or their knowledge of academic discourse, or perhaps both? There’s plenty of room for research here to find out what students value about their EAP tutors, what they would like to see more (or less) of, etc. Meanwhile I guess I belong to a school of thought that values generic qualifications such as CELTA and DELTA highly (I am aware that there are others that might place more emphasis on academic knowledge) and at the moment I am erring on the side of not seeing (or wanting to see) EAP as a more complex or sophisticated type of teaching but embodying many of the same issues that general ELT reveals: L2 acquisition, L1 interference, error analysis, communicative competence, etc. It does so in a different context of course but in many ways the issues are the same. I do agree that there are strong political issues around developing EAP practitioners. Many of these issues seem to centre around how as EAP teachers, we can ‘justify’ our sense of professionalism in the eyes of HE (and perhaps FE) institutions. Lecturers in other subjects are not required to enter into this justification. I wonder what it is that makes us want to define what makes a good EAP teacher? Does a sociology or mathematics lecturer feel compelled to enter into these ruminations? Is that a carry-over from our earlier training on CELTA and DELTA, which is often very self-analytical? Is there a danger of too many reflections and too much ‘beating ourselves up’ over not having the skills we feel we need? I would be interested in what others think!

    Like

  3. It is the mark of a healthy community to evolve and question its own purposes, practices, and reasons for being. The identification of scientists with ‘scientists’ did not happen until the 1800s (when the word ‘scientist’ appeared in print). Prior to this, they were known as ‘natural philosophers’ (as the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society testify). Many reasons explain this, but one reason is almost certainly that the (perception of) knowledge(s) they were ‘trading in’ changed: they had arguably been doing science since the 1600s (and before), but it is how they perceived the epistemology of that science that changed.

    Is the knowledge (epistemology) that EAP trades in changing/different to EFL? If it is, or is perceived to be, then I think Gemma is right to ask what it is an EAP person does, and for whom, and in what context. And this questioning justifies reflection and an investment in research. IMHO.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thanks Gemma for this post, including the summary of the discussion on the list. I want to respond to one of the points arising from that.

    Maybe I misunderstood your comments, but I think experience matters a lot in EAP. Maybe I feel this very strongly precisely because I’m still within the first two years of teaching EAP (with virtually no prior ELF teaching) and my learning curve is still steep. So why does experience matter? Because you have moments of realisations all the time – hopefully, that is, I’m not saying that experience *automatically* makes you a better TEAP, as Gemma implies: experience is not necessarily equal to expertise and competency.

    One random example: When preparing my first cohort of students for an SPSE essay (exam), I realised very late in the process, maybe a week or two before the exam, how best to structure the essay and *why*. Naturally, my next cohort could benefit from this insight because they got better instruction earlier on (in my view), whether or not the content that I taught was better / more useful than what the first cohort got, simply because I understood more.

    Of course, as in every job/career, you have to start without experience in order to get experience. Hopefully you have a structured syllabus with materials and someone to guide you, including an observation or two, to begin with, to help you get started. And then keep learning about the skills/genres/… that you need to help the students develop, learn them with the students and reflect. That’s how you get more experienced – more confident – more useful for the students – better – more skilled – more knowledgeable etc.

    I think this is why experience matters. It *can* make you a lot more competent. But I probably agree that “experience” as reduced to “worked in EAP for x length of time” is not in itself a hallmark of a good teacher. And this is where the TEAP accreditation comes in useful, although this is of course more applicable to developing when you’re already in EAP, rather than help to enter.

    This is probably the same in most jobs/professions, that you *can* get a lot better with experience. Why should this not be true for EAP?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I think the TEAP accreditation portfolio scheme could be a good way of recording experience in a more structured way. Recording it and adding to it could help to show more concrete evidence of ‘experience’ and help to get away from the vagueness of this concept and what it requires and means!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Gemma says:

      Thanks for these comments.

      I of course agree that experience can make someone better at what they do, a point well-illustrated by your example; with time and experience, trial and error, we can learn better, more effective ways of doing things. But what about when we think we’ve found these ‘better ways’ of doing things, then what happens? Isn’t it possible that with experience, there could be the risk of complacency, not questioning what we do anymore, getting stuck in certain routines and mindsets, believing we’ve found the ‘best ways’? Whilst by contrast, based on your account we could characterise the ‘novice’ EAP tutor as reflective, open to new insights, eager to learn new skills and further knowledge.. It’s of course impossible to generalise as it really comes down to the individual, and this is for me why simple equations with experience and expertise are on shaky ground. The preoccupation with the categorisations of ‘novice’ and ‘experienced’ in EAP are problematic too; a teacher might be classified as a ‘novice’ in EAP, but hold a DELTA and / or have extensive experience in another area of ELT.. On what basis are these distinctions made, and why?

      Liked by 3 people

      • Yes, as I was writing (and editing a lot), I came to that realisation- that length of experience and ‘improvement’ are not necessarily related. (Another example to support my initial point- apparently it wasn’t enough for me to be told in your post, I had to “get it” myself.)

        At the end of my CELTA, we got the advice to work in different contexts or at least vary what we do in our context, otherwise we might end up “not with 6 years experience but with 6×1 year experience”. I found that a useful thought and since then have the aim to have experience the length of my employment, rather than the length of the course I currently teach.

        Like

      • Isn’t it possible that with experience, there could be the risk of complacency, not questioning what we do anymore, getting stuck in certain routines and mindsets, believing we’ve found the ‘best ways’?

        Yes, you’re quite right, and that’s where professional development, reflective practice, scholarship, and research come into play. I am inherently suspicious of employment situations that, either de jure or de facto, do not encourage or allow time for these activities.

        Like

      • Steve says:

        I think one way to approach notions of experience or novicehood is by remembering to continually question, revisit, and reflect on what might otherwise be regarded as already understood. Isn’t it possible, however, that perhaps instinctive responses to people who may be adopting this approach, experienced or otherwise, and consciously or otherwise, might overtake the most knowledgable, experienced, best of us, again consciously or otherwise? Isn’t this, though, part of the territory that is of considerable interest in self-aware learning development?

        Like

  5. Hi Gemma! The thoughts in your post totally resonate with me! ‘Vague’, ‘Apparent mystery’, ‘Outsider to the profession’ …as a sessional EAP lecturer for the last few years, albeit currently on a more long-term temporary contract, EAP does at times feel like a closed shop, a little private club that I am desperately trying to think of ways to sneak into permanently. Exploratory practice, research, straight teaching- I’m kind of like whatever you want me to do, just get together and decide and let me know and I’ll do it!
    I’ve recently finished my Masters. I really enjoyed it and learnt a lot from it, but it does also feel like I’ve just completed something to tick off on a tick sheet of requirements. From speaking to people on a daily basis and from my own research for my dissertation on how to enter and develop within EAP on a permanent career basis, it seems that ‘experience’ is what everyone says you need. Yet, as you say Gemma this concept is very vague. What experience do you actually need? How much do you need? The busy time for EAP is the summer, so if any meaningful experience is only taking place once a year for a few months…well it’s a long time between experiences.
    It seems there’s not any clearly prescribed route into EAP-it’s all word of mouth as to how you get into it. And what was even more worrying from my research was that luck plays a big part, with many people saying they were ‘lucky’ and in the ‘right place at the right time’ to get a fulltime contract.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Alex says:

      Hi Alex,
      the work you did for your dissertation is really very interesting… the view from the periphery so to speak. It also highlights common practice – rather than ideals or wishes. It would be good if you could write this up for a post here – perhaps over the summer? it would be interesting for all to read and would be especially interesting to write it and publish it here as many summer presessional tutors will be in the UK.

      Like

      • Gerard Sharpling says:

        Hi Alexandra, I found your post most interesting and have been thinking for a while about how to respond to it – your comments about private club certainly resonated with me as this is often what I have felt too. Although the EAP community does indeed seem to welcome discussion, and that’s definitely a plus point, there are clearly also voices of authority who are ‘listened to’ more than others and who convey a greater sense of ‘gravitas’ when talking about the subject. I have never been quite clear how one becomes such an authority – not that I would necessarily want to be! – and that’s the process that fascinates me. What I find very interesting is not so much whether there is an answer to ‘What is required to teach EAP?’ as ‘How do people answer the question?’. For example, at one end, you might just say ‘well, to find the answer, see what so-and-so said at this conference or in that paper’, and at the other end one might question whether the question in itself is important. Most of us I guess situate ourselves somewhere between the two. But the idea of authority in EAP is something I’d like to research more into. For example, what is it that might make some people’s answer to this question more credible than others? What is the basis on which credibility is decided. Sorry if this does not help to provide neat answers to the question posed.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Gemma says:

      I agree with you Gerard that questions about authority in EAP are interesting ones, and worthy of greater consideration. If you look at the official literature (the BALEAP TEAP Scheme https://www.baleap.org//projects/teap-schemer for example, and The British Council Pathways in EAP http://englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/continuing-professional-development/pathways-eap) it seems, as I mentioned in my original post above, that authority and credibility are automatically equated with amount of experience. Yet surely, as Olwyn Alexander’s presentation at the BALEAP PIM on Sheffield Hallam, November 2014 (mentioned in the UEFAP post below) (https://www.baleap.org/pims/list/activity/23/) argued, there can quite easily be ‘experienced non-experts’. I’m particularly drawing on the information on slide 19 of this presentation, which seeks to highlight some of the differences between ‘experienced non-expert’ and ‘expert’. My own problem with these definitions though was that it didn’t seem wholly illogical (taking them somewhat out of context) to be able to quite easily conceive of the concept of the ‘inexperienced expert’!

      I certainly think some reconsideration of the ‘experienced’ vs ‘novice’ dichotomy, which the EAP literature seems to take for granted, is needed, and as Gerard says, and to have more discussion about questions of authority and credibility.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Susie Cowley-Haselden says:

    You’ve asked some important questions Gemma. I think that there is a problem with the terms novice and expert. No one enters the EAP profession without experience of one kind or another, but they are new to it and EAP is different to experience gained from academic study or teaching EFL. We are also never expert – to believe so is quite arrogant and frankly untruthful. Complacency exists in any profession but the training for that profession is not to blame. Many other factors are. For me one key element in the debate is relevance. I jumped at the chance to be in the BALEAP TEAP accreditation pilot as it seemed relevant to me. Many other available CPD opportunities are not so. I hated the DELTA and that was when it was relevant to me as an EFL lecturer!! I don’t know anyone who sees value in it for EAP training (and the same is probably true of many TESOL MAs). I think we need to be careful of dismissing things we have not experienced. The TEAP scheme has problems with accessibility – the criteria have been written by very experienced EAP practitioners who have crossed a knowledge threshold and therefore the discourse used within the competencies denies some not so experienced/ well read practitioners access. But this criticism aside, I would highly recommend people doing the scheme. It is difficult to digest and navigate initially for the reason I have mentioned, but it is relevant. Going through the scheme increased my confidence no end. It gave me a voice and a space to ruminate on my identity as a practitioner. No other CPD scheme or qualification I have done has done that. On Saturday (at the BALEAP revised accreditation scheme launch) Julie King said that the comps were designed to be a framework to help people consider areas of further training. I think they do this well.
    We may be being de-professionalised from external forces, but I think things like the TEAP scheme can help empower us to push back. For me to say I am a senior fellow of BALEAP and the HEA (for I think we should do both schemes) shows the academy what I can do, especially as there are only 13 SFs in my institution. It gives me parity with other subject specialists. I truly believe parity is a key to us pushing back.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Gemma says:

      I’m really pleased to see this conversation continuing!

      Thanks to Susie for offering some insights into the TEAP Scheme; this is relatively new and something very few of us have experience of, so it’s good to hear thoughts from someone who’s been through it. The TEAP scheme does seem to be ostensibly a step in the right direction I think in so far as it provides us with a specialist ‘qualification’ which is underpinned by the concept of development (as opposed to mere training, which I think is more reductive), and which could also ultimately provide a greater degree of professional recognition. Certainly it seems increasingly that we (unfortunately) will have to find ways of justifying and defending what we do and the level of expertise involved..

      Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know anyone who sees value in [the DELTA] for EAP training.

      I think that’s a little unfair – I don’t know what course you were on. I did the Trinity version at an excellent language school in Bristol in 2003. We did have input sessions on EAP, on awareness-raising about different styles, genres, & registers, on chunking, collocation, and sentence frames. It also taught me a lot that I didn’t know before about how people learn, different learning styles, becoming a reflective practitioner… The whole syllabus was a lot less tickboxy than the TEAP and HEA frameworks (TEAP is an improvement over HEA I hasten to add) and geared towards practical teaching techniques. I still use many of them in my EAP classes today.

      Like

      • Susie Cowley-Haselden says:

        Hi John,
        I’m not trying to be unfair. It is a genuine observation. People I have seen do the DELTA now (to improve job prospects rather than to satisfy real desire) seem to find it a real trial and not so relevant.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Pete Lawson says:

        Was it at The Language Project with Jon Wright and Val Hennessey, by any chance? If so, I too have found the insights from their Trinity Diploma to be of enormous use in my general ESOL and EAP teaching since I took the course with them in 2004.

        Like

      • Nice to hear from you Pete. Yes you’re right about where I did my Trinity Dip. I think we did overlap – I was on the full-time route while you were on the part-time route if I’m not mistaken. I’m glad there’s someone else who thinks that a Dip or DELTA is a good preparation for becoming an EAP teacher.

        Like

  7. joannamalefaki says:

    Hi Gemma and Alex,
    Interesting post. I have only taught pre-sessional EAP courses (my fifth course will be this year) and I got into EAP out of luck. I saw a job advertisement, applied, read up on EAP before my interview, and got my first EAP tutor post. I already had a M.Ed in Tesol with an ESP specialisation and ended up doing the Delta because I wanted to have more qualifications for these teaching positions and feel that I know more about what I am doing(module 3 EAP specialisation).
    I am commenting here because I have found that what has benefited me a lot is the fact that I am not based in the UK. This means that I can apply to different universities and see how each institution approaches their EAP course. I have learnt a lot because of this!I have also found that my background in Business English has fed into my EAP approach as well (when I teach management/business students). So, I think that a background in EFL can be helpful, but experience and learning about EAP is essential.
    I find that in general there is not a lot of research about EAP out there and answering the questions of How/Why is very interesting.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Joanna

    Liked by 2 people

    • Diane Schmitt says:

      Hi Joanna

      I believe it is very unlikely that you got your first EAP job on the basis of luck. I used to say the same about myself because I was offered a full-time job at my university ahead of many people who had been there much longer than me. Over time though, I have really come to believe the old cliché that we make our own luck.

      I had an MA, no one else in my language centre did and I was obviously keen to progress even further and I believe this was recognised by the management at the time. Your description of yourself reminds me of myself and of others that I have subsequently gone on to hire. You had relevant qualifications, but you were also pro-active and put yourself in a position to be noticed and I think that is what really counts.

      Over the years, I have hired people with CELTAs and/or DELTAs and/or MAs in TESOL/Applied Linguistics and/or mainstream teaching qualifications and/or MAs/PhDs in other non-language disciplines. I have also hired teachers fresh off CELTAs with little or no teaching experience and others with years of teaching behind them.

      What tends to impress me most and to be a good bellweather of who will be a good teacher is not the certificate someone holds or the number of years in a classroom, it is evidence of being pro-active and showing willingness to continue to grow and develop as a professional.

      Gemma, you and all of the others who have responded to this post are the type of applicants I would hope to be able to choose from if I were hiring. I’ll be very surprised if Angelina, who started the thread on the BALEAP discussion list doesn’t get hired by someone this summer. As noted by others, her CV does look good and her pro-active approach to the list has gotten her noticed. Some EAP units may be constrained by BC Accreditation requirements from hiring her, but many others will not be.

      I agree with Gemma that the EAP profession needs to be give more thought to how we define ourselves and be more aware of how we are perceived. I’m pleased that the topic is out in the open and that people feel passionately enough about the topic to engage in debate.

      When people ask me what I do, I define myself firstly as an Applied Linguist, I then gloss this by explaining that I teach English as a Second Language and then if they are still listening, I tell them that I work at a university and specifically teach English for Academic Purposes. Being an EAP teacher hasn’t really distanced me from EFL more generally, because just like my colleagues in the wider field, I’m fundamentally interested in helping people develop as users of English as a Second language.

      Diane

      Liked by 5 people

      • joannamalefaki says:

        Hi Diane,
        Yes, I think out of luck does not do justice. I should have said that I was in the right place at the right time :). I was looking for a job, applied and then did my best to get it! I did and ever since I love teaching EAP in the summers.

        Like

      • Hi Diane,

        Thanks for sharing these comments. I also often say that I was in the right place at the right time but I also think that the right person was in that place.

        I just want to pick up one point. You say you describe yourself as an Applied Linguist. When I was talking to another EAP professional, one who is doing a PhD (on teacher identity?), about possibly doing a PhD in Linguistics in the future, she sounded surprised: Why linguistics?? Because that’s the field I’m interested in and also because I see myself as an applied linguist, if I want to locate myself in an academic discipline. (Probably others will now say that we need to make EAP an academic discipline as distinct from Applied Linguistics?) So I find it interesting that you have this trajectory of Applied Linguist – English teacher – EAP teacher.
        I usually say it the other way round: I teach English at the University to help international students prepare for university study in the UK. But possibly this is more geared towards my usual audience, I might start differently when talking to university people.

        Like

  8. UEfAP says:

    Some interesting comments here. Thank you, Gemma, for getting it started.

    Many people have mentioned experience and expertise. Olwyn discussed this issue – drawing on Bereiter & Scardamalia and others – at the PIM at Sheffield Hallam last November. You can access her talk here:

    https://www.baleap.org/pims/list/activity/23/

    Andy

    Liked by 2 people

    • Alex says:

      Thanks Andy for this link. I saw Olwyn give this talk and what I remember most about it was the discussion of expertise in EAP – a related and also nebulous concept. What seems key and is perhaps not quite so obvious is that along with notions of identity there is a necessary coupling of recognition (something Susie alludes to here in her comments). Susie mentions there are only 13 senior fellows in her institution – I have no idea how many there are at Nottingham (as a percentage of academic staff not many I’d imagine) – does that suggest that it isn’t very highly valued in academia? I don’t mean that’s a reason not to do it (or obtain any other form of professional/teaching recognition) just a reflection of what counts in HE?
      Teaching is talked about more and more in HE – a consequence of extortionate fees perhaps and the emergence of student as consumer. It would be such a shame – and probably detrimental to teaching – if interest in teaching and pedagogy was to be governed by notions of satisfaction …

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Alex,

        I mentioned the number of SFs to highlight that there aren’t that many yet and that an EAP practitioner can be one – conversations I’ve had with some have questioned whether as teachers/ tutors in units on the periphery we can do the HEA – the answer is yes!
        This small figure doesn’t suggest it is not highly valued in academia, I know of several institutions (mine included) that are really pushing for ALL staff to do the HEA scheme – though I’m not entirely sure of the motivation behind this. I guess it might be to force those who are not that concerned with pedagogy to become so?? Perhaps it’s a token gesture to satisfy the consumer?? Which annoys the hell out of me as international students have been ‘consumers’ for years!!! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gerard Sharpling says:

        That’s an interesting discussion – the question for me I suppose is whether HEA membership (or indeed, other schemes and protocols that are being discussed here – TEAP, DELTA, etc) really lead to better teaching. If they do, then that’s great! Go for it! However, I do sense that in some cases, there is also a bit of ‘box ticking’ going on – perhaps so that institutions can ‘demonstrate’ that they are meeting minimum requirements, or ‘cover themselves’ in case they get complaints from students who are paying high fees and not getting results. I suspect that compulsory HEA is slightly insidious, in that it could be used by institutions as a selection device which shifts the goal posts and weeds non-participating teachers out, or provides financial incentives to those who follow the scheme. I’m not suggesting by any means that this is actually the case, but it seems to be the thin end of the wedge to me.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. S443 says:

    It is so interesting to read so many comments and questions I have asked myself. I also happened to be “in the right place at the right time” and manage to get a full-time job in an academic skills development team, teaching EAP to both native and non-native HE students. At that time I was writing my MA TESOL dissertation, and the data obtained also highlighted issues such as identity, EAP vs ELT and the mysteries of becoming an EAP tutor. Reviewing the EAP literature was a difficult process as not much has been published about these issues and the ethics of EAP, the focus of my dissertation. Embedding EAP and working with academic departments appear to be the key elements literature highlights to raise the profile of EAP in the academy. Certainly, embedding is part of my current job and despite not being an easy task, I firmly believe that it will give EAP practitioners parity with subject specific colleagues at university.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Steve says:

    Thanks Gemma (and Alex) for keeping the theme going. It’s interesting too to see a take on teaching and teacher purposes from an ELT training perspective. CELTA/DELTA trainer-experts, Scrivener and Underhill, for example, seemed to have had a ‘later-life’ awakening on this, with regard to a possible ‘realisation’ that perhaps ‘the learning’ was being missed out (see https://theteapingpoint.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/demand-high-eap/). Scrivener’s (2014) article goes into some further details (https://demandhighelt.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/ejal-article-demand-high-learning-jim-scrivener.pdf). Steve Kirk’s blog brought some of these ideas into a TEAP frame a couple of years back, here: https://theteapingpoint.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/demand-high-eap/.

    Like

    • Steve says:

      I mean here: https://demandhighelt.wordpress.com/ (made a mess of that).

      Liked by 1 person

    • Gemma says:

      Hi Steve, thanks for posting these links. ‘Demand High EAP’ makes some interesting points about fundamental differences between ‘EFL’ and ‘EAP’, which take us beyond the reductive sorts of typologies that exist elsewhere. I think it’s precisely this sort of exploration that we need, and what I also think is lacking from the BALEAP TEAP Scheme which takes a more reductive, itemised approach to the description of EAP on a mainly practical/pragmatic level. The idea that EAP goes beyond language practice to also involve ‘knowledge building’ begins to provide a clear rationale for arguments about the insufficiency of the DELTA for TEAP, and I think more unpacking of these sorts of ideas will help take us forward towards a more collective and coherent understanding of what EAP is, which I think is a necessary precursor to my question about what is required to teach EAP.

      Liked by 3 people

  11. Alex says:

    Thank you gemma and everyone for the post and comments its been very interesting so far. I’d love to comment on just about everything eveyone has written so far!
    I think the fact that practitoner identity, qualifications, requisites to teach EAP, our position in the academic world etc. has solicited interest here and some heated discussions elsewhere indicates a healthy questioning (as Julia points out), a lack of certainty (or uniformity) and possibly a sense of not being quite sure where the practitioner will be – or what they will be in the future. The landscape of higher education and research is changing, the effects of government and university policies (which do have such a close affiliation with neoliberlaism) and discourse impose themselves on our students, colleagues and us. To my mind, its hardly surprising that at this particular moment questions about who we are and who we might be surface.
    Some more pragmatically minded practitioners might impatiently consider all this discussion somewhat wasteful and abstract. I think questions and critiques of current practices and beliefs (whether that’s examining the BALEAP fellowship scheme, MAs in TEAP, Deltas whatever we are committed to) is healthy for our community of practice – the community will fossilise, stiffle innovation without it. Critique within a community is key. Whilst i take Susie’s point that lack of experience of X (in her example the fellowship scheme) should make anyone cautious about offering criticism I also believe that its a mistake to argue that you need experience of something in order to critique it. If experience is used in this way insights from others can be dismissed without considering the merits of the argument (this isn’t what Susie is arguing i’d like to stress!). And status too shouldn’t preclude who can join the discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. “For me the question of experience has always been slightly perplexing; so often it is called upon in the professional TEAP literature as a sort of benchmark of quality, yet nowhere does anybody really explain why experience is of such fundamental importance, or justify why experience is necessarily equated with expertise and competency.”

    I wonder if we define ‘experience’ here as experience with the academy: its expectations, its discourses, and its rigor, and that the novice EAP teacher who comes from an EFL environment does not fully have (aside perhaps from their own experiences in an undergraduate program from X years ago), then we can understand and justify why many ‘experienced’ EAP practitioners highly value it above TESOL training. It seems the teacher training and direct involvement in higher education settings are the two halves of this ideal EAP practitioner. It’s the perspective of whom we ask that determines which is more important based on the assumption that one or the other does not exist in novice EAP teachers.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. […] EAP-What is required to teach EAP?: Very interesting post. If you teach EAP, go for […]

    Like

  14. Alex says:

    If you have a look at the British Council’s EAP CPD pathways you may notice that at the highest level (6) it appears to be largely focused on managerial and administrative attributes. I wonder what you think about this and what it says about how progression and development is perceived in EAP. Personally, I find this worrying – but I’d be interested in knowing what you think and what you think it says about EAP as a discipline and profession.
    http://englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/continuing-professional-development/pathways-eap

    Liked by 3 people

  15. […] by the Teaching EAP blog post discussing the requirements of teaching English for Academic Purposes, I realized that many […]

    Liked by 1 person

  16. […] seems tricky to get into outside the summer months. (See Gemma Campion’s very interesting post What is required to teach EAP on the blog Teaching EAP for more about getting into EAP and EAP practitioner […]

    Like


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s