Thursday, July 05, 2012

Thoughts on Thematic teaching in English for Academic Purposes

Language Through Content

At a macro-design level, one way to organize an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) curriculum is through thematic language through content organization. In this curriculum design structure, the conditions for language acquisition are created in the context of complex meaningful content from various disciplines across the undergraduate curriculum. This promotes the teaching of language and content together to provide a framework for language, concepts, and learning strategies. Thus, an EAP course can use the content of the various disciplines at a research intensive university to improve students’ general knowledge while at the same time fostering an increase in English language proficiency. This approach makes content a vehicle for reading, writing, listening and speaking skills while at the same time integrating grammar and vocabulary development. From this, a powerful framework for learning is created to contextualize the academic objectives of the EAP courses.

The Spiked English Language Proficiency Model

As students work through a thematic unit of inquiry, their English language proficiency in relation to the content studied spikes so that they become competent users of English within the thematic area under study. While a student’s general English language proficiency might be that of a high intermediate student, within a completed thematic unit of inquiry, the same student may function as an advanced user of English. As students work through the various thematic units of inquiry, spiked thematic proficiency multiples through a variety of academic disciplines creating an ever expanding linguistic framework upon which to map new knowledge and language (see Figure 1).

Figure 1
The Spiked English Language Proficiency Model

Thursday, June 28, 2012

New BC TEAL News Article: A Short Rational for Credit Bearing English for Academic Purposes (EAP) Courses

I've just had an article published in BC TEAL News:

In the article, I'm basically looking at some of the reasons why English for Academic Purposes courses should bear credit that counts towards a degree.  Have a read of the article and let me know what you think . . . 

Monday, June 18, 2012

EAP Instructor Position at UBC's Okanagan Campus

It has just become official.  The University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus is hiring a new instructor for the new English Foundation Program. 

You can learn all about the English Foundation Program here:

You can learn all about the new position here:

I'm posting a copy of the position just below.  If you have any questions, please inquire at the email in the advertisement.  Please don't contact me. I'm just passing along the information. 

The deadline to apply is July 13, 2012. 

Term Certain Instructor Position, English Foundation Program

The English Foundation Program (EFP) is new program that will enable domestic and international students to gain the English language proficiency skills required to be accepted into a degree program at UBC’s Okanagan campus. This innovative, accredited program combines intensive English language training and credit courses while engaging students in campus life.

We invite applications from qualified individuals for a full time, term certain instructor position commencing August 15, 2012.

The position involves daily lesson planning and course delivery in accordance with the English Foundation Program’s curriculum, diagnostic evaluation and testing, ongoing formative and summative assessment, and collaboration on curriculum design and program development.

The successful candidate will demonstrate expertise in teaching English for Academic Purposes (EAP) at the post-secondary level. This expertise includes innovative learner-centered approaches. Inquiry forms the centre of the ideal candidate’s teaching.

Preference will be given to applicants who hold a master’s degree in a relevant area, including formal coursework in teaching English as an Additional Language (EAL), and are committed to working collaboratively in an interdisciplinary environment. This includes demonstrated experience in working cooperatively with diverse groups in a multicultural and multilingual environment. Intercultural competence is essential. Proficient written and verbal communication skills are also a requirement for the position.

The successful candidate will further demonstrate a commitment to the integration of new technologies into his or her teaching. Additional experience in EAL teacher education and familiarity with the K-16 spectrum of EAL teaching is preferred. Membership in a related professional association (e.g. BC TEAL, ACLA/CAAL, TESOL) is desirable.

Applicants should forward a cover letter, curriculum vitae, statement of teaching philosophy, evidence of teaching ability (e.g. course evaluations) and the names, including contact information, of three referees to:

Dr. Lynn Bosetti, Dean of Education
UBC, Okanagan Campus
Faculty of Education
EME 3141, 3333 University Way
Kelowna, BC, V1V 1V7
Electronic applications are welcomed. Electronic applications must be submitted as e-mail attachments and sent to: Lesley Frost at

Application Deadline: July 13, 2012

UBC hires on the basis of merit and is committed to employment equity. All qualified persons are encouraged to apply. We especially welcome applications from members of visible minority groups, women, Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, persons of minority sexual orientations or gender identities, and others with the skills and knowledge to engage productively with diverse communities. Government regulations require that Canadians and permanent residents of Canada will be given priority.

Only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Visiting Taiwan

It's official. I'm travelling to Taiwan at the beginning of May to take part in Oxford Day. My talk is going to be on critical thinking and vocabulary and how the two are intertwined. In addition to Oxford Day in Taipei and Taichung, I'll also be making presentations at National Cheng Kung University ( and National Kaohsiung First University of Science & Technology ( Here is some more information about my talk along with the poster:

Unlocking the Potential: Creative Thinking Skills and Lexical Proficiency

As English Language Learners ready themselves for participation in the globalized world of the 21st Century, a focus on inquiry, creative thinking, and problem solving is fast coming to the forefront of English language teaching. In order to employ critical thinking skills such as these, students require increasingly sophisticated levels of lexical proficiency. Exploration of the lexical demands of novice academic writing at the post-secondary level reveals vocabulary benchmarks and directions for language instruction that foster critical thinking skills and successful writing. In examining these aspects of vocabulary teaching and learning, seminar participants are encouraged to reflect critically on the presented ideas and plan strategies for unlocking the cognitive and academic English language potential of their students.