Building Up Strategies to Adapt Oral Production for EAP Students
Priscila Mateini has been teaching English since 2009. Focus on Special Educational Needs and English for Academic purposes. She held Language degree, Specializations in English studies and UDL (Universal Design for Learning). Master in Inclusive Education. She teaches at Language Without Border – Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro and Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Sociais (IFCS).
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.
The aim of this article is looking at ways to develop students’ oral production in EAP classes. Speaking is one of the skills, which is required in the academic field. Every semester students are evaluated by doing seminars and posters presentations in their areas. Some majors are necessary to delivery lectures and seminars to foreigner advisors who academic students are facing difficulties to express themselves to performance the language in a proficiency way.
Even though, their researches are highly recommended and most of them have received awards in their fields. When it comes to speak in English language, they cannot delivery in a fluently way what make them feel demotivated. Most of them feel anxious, not prepared for their presentations and, they feel incapable to reproduce their researches in the target language. Some might think it is a lack of language skill, but it is a lack of opportunity to develop their oral production. Once, it is not usual offering in general English classes.
Therefore, we will look at some strategies to adapt materials from GE to EAP which it might help not only academic students but also students in general.
During 2 years teaching English for academic purposes (EAP), I have read and analyzed some course books in order to develop my students speaking. A variety of books in the market focus on EAP, they have a range of activities focus on writing, listening, reading, but just a few books have speaking for EAP. The purposes that some activities are designed by a few authors who take for granted that the learners can performance properly just by given examples and drills which are focused on general English, not in an academic skill.
Moreover, according to Hyland 2006 ‘It therefore implies that students’ difficulties with ‘academic English’ are simply a deficit of literacy skills created by poor schooling or lazy students which can be rectified in a few English classes. EAP then becomes a Band-aid measure to fix up deficiencies.’
Sometimes, it goes beyond lazy or poor education. We know that Brazil still have a gap between fluency and proficiency. In a continental country surrounded by other languages, Brazil still a monolingual country, where language policies are not developed and internationalization are difficult to apply. So that, we cannot blame our students, they have been trying their best to improve their academic language skill though.
I decide to adapt some activities to enhance their proficiency in speaking skill. These activities were worked with 03 groups of 20 students in two different levels B1 and B2 (CEFR) at the IFCS (UFRJ) with academic students in Humanities majors, from undergraduate to PhD students.
There are some strategies to adapt from General English to English for Academic Purposes:
- We have to focus on a critical awareness for effective materials development.
- Not all the book, which are on sale, can be adapted into EAP.
- Some of them have their own criteria to evaluate the students’ goals.
It was analyzed the purpose of producing activities focus on their academic background and their goals. Some students have already studied in English institutions; however, they did not have the opportunity to present their researches in an academic context, which have been to demand to them.
At Languages without Border, we tend to apply some methods and approaches to best fit our learners. Needless to say, we prepare our materials following by procedures stablished by our pedagogical coordinator who gives us materials to support our lesson plans and reading references to provide theoretical background.
Talking about our classes at LwB, we work with our groups, topics related to their academic issues, campus life and on. In one of the lessons presented to them, they were evaluated by producing an academic poster which they had researched in a 5 minutes presentation to the whole classes.
They had to follow some steps required by the activity:
- Develop the presentation in a power point format – in 5 minutes
- Write the poster in an academic style using: Introduction, methods/ process info and, conclusion.
- Questions and answers from the audience.
After their presentation, the teacher sent to them individually feedback by email, giving them some information, such as, where they can improve, modified and, congratulating them.
In conclusion, these strategies were created to motivate them to speak about their object of studies. Those students in particular, they have been involved with issue related to our academic life. When, I was invited to teach English at the Philosophy and Social Science College, I thought it would be a challenge, and I was not wrong, however, what I could have never imagined that I would be in a place full of great thinkers whom I have learned so far and helped them to put their voice into their goals.
Below one of the lesson plans which we raise awareness about Social Changes:
Social Change – Identity at academia – Humanities
1 hour classes
Texts from journals, videos from Universities and Martin Luther King Speech
In the academia, we have a plural community, full of historical and cultural references and, unique walks of life. This activity encourages students to reflect about these references by giving their own voice. In this lesson, students take their life to raise awareness about their identity. In a group from 2 to 4 students. They will talk about their academic background, their life as an academic student in one of the most important university in Brazil.
The information upon the lesson is meant to be informative and reflexive. For homework, the students find out what they have in common and differences in a 5 mins presentation for next class.
Prepare the room, with colorful A4 paper sheets and put on the wall, with some questions:
Set the video which will be talking about Identity at the academia
Separate reading and the questions they have to discuss.
Ask the students in a group of 2-4 to go in the station glued on the wall. Each student will introduce themselves with the questions proposed by the activity. Then, they have to get together and find what they have in common or not.
After they have talked about themselves. They will watch a video called “What are identity Politics?”
They will discuss what they understood about Identity, social change and Martin Luther King
They will prepare at home their presentation (5-min) about the topic “Social Change”
In this homework for next class, they have to bring examples and support their opinion to convince the audience using argumentative strategies using pictures, texts and short videos.
Altheide, D. L (1996) Ethnographic Content Analysis. London: Sage
Chazal, E (2014) English for Academic Purposes. Oxford: Oxford
Fairclough, N (1992) Critical Language Awareness. Harlow: Longman
Kullman, J.P (2004) The Social Construction of leaner Identity in the UK-Published ELT Coursebook. Unpublished Ph.D Thesis, University of Kent
Tomlinson, B and Masuhara, H. (2004a) Development language course material. Singapure: RELC Portfolio Series
Please check the Teaching Advanced Students course at Pilgrims website.
Building Up Strategies to Adapt Oral Production for EAP Students
Priscila Mateini, Brazil